Someone wrote a book about ‘Stephen King’s Maine’ and Stephen King says ‘not all of it is right’

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It must be a daunting experience for any author to have their work scrutinized, especially when it involves the iconic settings crafted by a master storyteller like Stephen King. In the case of Sharon Kitchens’ book, “Stephen King’s Maine: A History & Guide,” released on May 20, 2024, the spotlight turned on the accuracy of her portrayal of the towns that served as inspiration for King’s fictional landscapes.

Kitchens meticulously compiled historical materials and conducted interviews with locals and individuals acquainted with King to craft a guide to Western Maine, the stomping ground of the renowned author. Throughout the book, she endeavors to pinpoint the real-life locales that provided the backdrop for beloved fictional towns such as Castle Rock, Jerusalem’s Lot, and Derry, among others.

However, Stephen King himself cast a critical eye on Kitchens’ work, taking to Twitter to express his reservations. While acknowledging that “not all of it is right,” King tempered his critique by stating that “most of” the information in the book is accurate. Despite the discrepancies, he deemed “Stephen King’s Maine” to be “really interesting,” offering a somewhat complimentary assessment of Kitchens’ efforts.

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For King, the real-life inspirations behind his fictional towns have been a source of intrigue and speculation among fans and scholars alike. Although he has often remained guarded about divulging specific details, King did confirm to his biographer that Derry is based on the town of Bangor, located a couple of hours from Portland. Derry has served as a prominent setting in several of King’s works, most notably in “It.”

King’s stance on world-building reflects his preference for evoking a sense of ambiguity and universality in his settings. In a previous commentary, he expressed disdain for the term “world-building,” considering it to be cliché and indicative of lazy storytelling. Instead, King favors a more organic approach to crafting his fictional landscapes, allowing readers to fill in the gaps with their imaginations.

While Kitchens’ book may not have captured every detail of King’s fictional towns with precision, it serves as a testament to the enduring fascination with the author’s richly imagined worlds. And as King’s cautionary note suggests, venturing too deeply into the shadows of Bangor—or any other real-life counterpart of his fictional settings—might yield unexpected and chilling discoveries.