King of the Dark Episode 11: Richard Bachman and The Dark Half

Welcome back to King of the Dark, our special summer series on the B&N Podcast exploring the strange alternate reality that is Stephen King’s fiction. In every episode Liz Braswell and Louis Peitzman join Bill Tipper to take on some of the most fascinating volumes from the King bookshelf. We’ve been working more or less chronologically, starting with Carrie and reading our way up to the present day, but this is something of an unusual episode, because today we’re talking about some books that didn’t have Stephen King’s name on them when they were published — and one that we did. Around the same time that King’s career was taking off, several potent works appeared by a writer named Richard Bachman, including the novels The Running Man, Thinner, and The Long Walk. As shrewd readers later discovered, the connections between King and Bachman were close — and it was a connection that King would explore fully in his 1989 novel The Dark Half. So, today on King of the Dark: the strange case of Richard Bachman, and the question of what happens when a writer imagines his own double.

Just joining us on King of the Dark? you can start at the beginning with our episode on Carrie, or check out last week’s episode on Dolores Claiborne here. Or Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher to follow King of the Dark and hear fascinating author interviews from the B&N Podcast every week.

A “wondrously frightening” (Publishers Weekly) tale of terror and #1 national bestseller about a writer’s pseudonym that comes alive and destroys everyone on the path that leads to the man who created him.

Thad Beaumont is a writer, and for a dozen years he has secretly published violent bestsellers under the name of George Stark. But Thad is a healthier and happier man now, the father of infant twins, and starting to write as himself again. He no longer needs George Stark and so, with nationwide publicity, the pseudonym is retired. But George Stark won’t go willingly.

And now Thad would like to say he is innocent. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. But how can Thad deny the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it—and signs its crimes with Thad’s bloody fingerprints?

The Dark Half is “a chiller” (The New York Times Book Review), so real and fascinating that you’ll find yourself squirming in Stephen King’s heart-stopping, blood-curdling grip—and loving every minute of it.

A desperate man attempts to win a reality TV game where the only objective is to stay alive in this #1 national bestseller from Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman.

“Tomorrow at noon, the hunt begins. Remember his face!”

Ben Richards is a desperate man. With no job, no money, no way out, and a young daughter in need of proper medical attention, he must turn to the only possibility of striking it rich in this near-future dystopian America: participating in the ultra-violent TV programming of the government-sanctioned Games Network. Ben soon finds himself selected as a contestant on the biggest and the best that the Games Network has to offer: “The Running Man,” a no-holds-barred thirty-day struggle to stay alive as public enemy number one, relentlessly hunted by an elite strike force bent on killing him as quickly as possible in front of an audience all-too eager to see that happen. It means a billion dollars in prize money if he can live for the next month. No one has ever survived longer than eight days. But desperation can push a person do things they never thought possible—and Ben Richards is willing to go the distance in this ultimate game of life and death….

Cross the master of horror with a fat man and a gypsy curse and you have one hell of a diet. Just watch the flesh burn away!

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