Welcome back to King of the Dark, our special summer series on the B&N Podcast devoted to Stephen King’s monumental career. Every week this summer, Liz Braswell, Louis Peitzman and Bill Tipper pick one of King’s bestsellers for a deep dive. King famously sets much of his fiction in his home state of Maine, but that’s not true of this week’s book, 1987’s bestselling, award-winning Misery, which unfolds in a small house in a remote area in Colorado. Bestselling writer Paul Sheldon has finally shaken himself free of the long-running, saccharine character — Misery Chastain — who has powered his successful career. Paul has killed off his beloved heroine in the pages of his last novel, and written the bracing literary work he’s dreamed of. But an auto wreck in the mountains leaves him badly wounded, and he wakes up in the house of Annie Wilkes, a nurse who has pulled him from his car. She says she’s Paul’s “number one fan” — but what happens when she finds out Misery is dead will change everything. The result is a game of wits that revolves around obsession, addiction, manipulation and sheer madness as gripping as anything Stephen King has ever written — and gave Kathy Bates an Oscar-winning role as Annie in the 1990 screen adaptation. It’s a novel that many King fans rate among his very best. And as Liz Braswell remarked at the beginning of our conversation, it’s also one that makes readers wonder about the intersection between fiction and reality.
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The #1 national bestseller about a famous novelist held hostage by his “number one fan” and suffering a frightening case of writer’s block—that could prove fatal. One of “Stephen King’s best…genuinely scary” (USA TODAY).
Paul Sheldon is a bestselling novelist who has finally met his number one fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes, and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also furious that the author has killed off her favorite character in his latest book. Annie becomes his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.
Annie wants Paul to write a book that brings Misery back to life—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an axe. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty.