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Where There’s Smoke: Stephen King Revisits ‘Firestarter’

Do you think that experience of growing up is different for girls than it is for boys?

I really do not think that it is. There was a time when girls were kind of punished for expressing their emotions. They were supposed to be more ladylike and more demure and more… biddable, I guess would be the word. That is not so true anymore. And I think that’s a very good thing.

Was Firestarter a difficult book to write? Do you remember much about the process?

No — it was fun! It was tremendously liberating because basically it was a chase novel, and I had no idea what was going to happen. I knew they were going to be caught, but I did not know what would happen beyond that, so it was all kind of a revelation to me. At that time in my career, I thought less about any potential audience and thought more about pleasing myself. I was at a stage where I was self-supporting. I felt confident that I could do this for a living. I’d made some money and I just felt like, you know, let it rip.

Were you ever concerned, so early in your career, that a novel about a little girl creating fires would be compared to Carrieabout a teenage girl who had similar powers?

Yeah. I mean, the two things vein related. But to me they relate in a logical way, not in a self-plagiarizing way. Charlie McGee is a superhero. In a way, Carrie is an anti-hero; she’s just this sad creature. The big difference is that Carrie has no father and her mother is crazy. The parents in Firestarter, Andy and Vicky, are pretty loving, and they raise her in the best way that they can. So I think the stories are pretty different.

It shows nature vs. nurture.

You know, one of the things that’s genius in this new movie is there is a scene with the little girl and the family. One of the things that I love is how family oriented it is; they seem like a real family to me. And the camera kind of hinges to the left and you see a fire extinguisher on the wall…

I remember that.

It tells you just about everything you need to know.

It’s in an unusual place. On the shelf in their dining room, instead of beside the stove or somewhere expected.

In the book they had ’em all over the house. And how about that little girl in Firestarter? Is not she good?

Yeah, Ryan Kiera Armstrong. I was wondering where I’d seen her before. She was in Black Widow spirit The Tomorrow Warbut also she was in It: Chapter Two.

Really? Oh my God. I did not know that!

She’s the little girl that Pennywise lures into the shadows beneath the bleachers, and then…

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