Life Is Imitating Stephen King’s Art, and That Scares Him

“They had happy endings. They had optimistic viewpoints about humanity, both individual people and groups of people, even when there were jerks in the mix,” Vincent says. “Is he mellowing with his viewpoint of the world, or in the earlier books might that have always been there? Ultimately maybe there’s a positive outlook on humanity underlying it all.”

[ “The Institute” is one of our most anticipated September titles. Read more about it and the other 16. ]

These days King is less enamored of his bleakest stories, like “Pet Sematary.” When the directors of last spring’s remake were devising a closing shot for the film, he proposed an idea that spared the young character he killed off in the original novel. (They didn’t go for it.)

While he usually keeps a distance on adaptations of his work, he’s making an exception with 2006’s “Lisey’s Story” — an otherworldly love story about a woman putting together the pieces after her husband’s death — and writing every episode of the J.J. Abrams-produced Apple TV series that will star Julianne Moore. For the upcoming CBS All Access adaptation of his end-of-the-world saga “The Stand,” he has penned a new ending that sounds like a happily-ever-after for two survivors of Armageddon. “Had it for years,” he says wistfully. “I always wanted to find out what happened to Stu and Frannie when they went back.”

Chizmar sees a lot of his friend and collaborator in the children of “The Institute.” “I think Steve’s a big kid,” he says. “You have adults with power, and kids who represent good and innocence, and they band together to take that power back. He’s a grandfather now, and he dedicated the book to his three grandsons, and I think he has a little bit of cynicism for the old guys, but hope for the youth.”

For a while, King considered making the villains of “The Institute” the same group that hunted the pyrokinetic Charlie McGee in 1980’s “Firestarter.”

“I thought at first, ‘Well, O.K., I’ll make this The Shop. The Shop is locking these kids up,’” he says. “But then I thought, ‘No, I don’t really want it to be a government deal.’” Instead, he decided the antagonists should be privately funded zealots.

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