It’s been quite some time since Stephen King last published a horror novel. In fact, the usually prolific horror author hasn’t published a novel at all since the finale to his Bill Hodges Trilogy, End of Watch, was published in June of last year. The long wait for a new Stephen King Horror book is nearly over, though, with the forthcoming release of Gwendy’s Button Box, which can be pre-ordered now, but goes on sale on May 30th.
Stephen King has made no secret about his dislike of Donald Trump, and there had been some speculation that Stephen King’s next book would reflect that. However, Gwendy’s Button Box is not about politics or a President of the United States, it’s about a little girl who lives in Castle Rock, a town that Stephen King fans will be very familiar with from books such as Needful Things and Cujo.
It would appear that King did get some inspiration for Gwendy’s Button Box from the new president, though. The author has said that he first had the idea for the new novella in July of 2016, when he became intrigued with the idea of putting the fate of the world in the hands of a child, “like Trump”.
Wendy’s Button Box is co-written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, who is the editor of Cemetery Dance magazine. King said that he had part of the story already written, but it he just couldn’t find an ending for it and Richard Chizmar “showed him the way home”.
Wendy’s Button Box appears to have been a true collaboration and not simply a case of one writer making a few edits to the other writers largely finished piece of work. According to Richard Chizmar the unfinished novella went back and forth between the two writers, many times, and both writers freely made changes to each other’s words and added new characters when they felt it was appropriate as well.
Stephen King said that the collaborative approach that he and Richard Chizmar took on the writing of Wendy’s Button Box was important to ensure that the reader is not jarred by a sudden change of voice at any point in the story.
So, what is Gwendy’s Button Box about? Well, we know it is set in Castle Rock in the summer of 1974 and we know the central character is a little girl called Gwendy. We know that Gwendy takes a daily walk up a set of steps, known locally as Suicide Stairs, which run up the side of a cliff face to a place called Castle View. Once there, she listens to the sounds of the children playing in the playground below and to the far away sound of ball hitting an aluminium baseball bat.
We also know that Gwendy meets a man up there on Castle View one day. It’s a man who is wearing a white shirt, black jeans, a dark suit jacket, and a small black hat. It’s a man who says “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me." We’ll just all have to wait until May 30th to find out the rest when Gwendy’s Button Box