Stephen King Updated New Novel to Consider Pandemic

While some creators chose to incorporate the pandemic into their projects, Stephen King chose to completely ignore it in his new novel, Billy Summers.

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With the pandemic now spanning over a year and a half with no end in sight, authors have been forced to choose whether to consider the pandemic in their future works. Some have decided to write novels as if the pandemic never happened, but for Stephen King, that couldn’t be the case for his new novel, Billy Summers.


On Monday, King joined Stephen Colbert on the Late, Late Show to discuss the new novel that just dropped on August 3. King began writing the novel in 2019, so a global pandemic was far from his mind when he chose to set part of the book on a cruise ship. Unfortunately, 2020’s events completely shattered the cruise industry left and right. With the book set in 2020, King decided that this was not a feasible plot. Even though King’s novels are known for their fantasy elements, they do also consider current events of their time periods. He would have to change something for the book to make sense.

I said, ‘No, this is probably not going to work.’ So what I did was I took the whole book, which was set in 2020 and shoved it back to 2019.


In the end, King chose to completely avoid 2020 and set the book back a year prior, in 2019. He did also say, however, that this will not be the case forever. We already see media like HBO Max’s Locked Down approaching the pandemic head-on by creating a scenario of a couple stuck in quarantine. King comments that “[s]ooner or later, someone is going to have to deal with this thing head-on.” Understandably, authors may want to currently avoid addressing the pandemic because they would rather take people away from their realities, not just reiterate it back to them. For many, the pandemic has cost them loved ones, jobs, money, and time. Writing a book about the Covid-19 pandemic while still living it may appear tasteless and inconsiderate to some readers. However, that is not to say that once we see ourselves past this mess, we may see an influx of pandemic content. Until then, creators will have no choice but consider the pandemic during each project.