Stephen King Really Loves His Own Character From ‘The Outsider’, Holly Gibney: ‘I’m So Crazy About Her’

Stephen King published his novel The Outsider in 2018. The author of several best-selling and critically-acclaimed horror novels recently shared his thoughts on the recent HBO adaption of The Outsider. King also took the time to rave about main character–in the book and the TV series–Holly Gibney.

King raves about ‘The Outsider’ main character Holly Gibney

The Outsider
Cynthia Erivo, who plays Holly Gibney, attends the premiere Of HBO’s The Outsider | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Stephen King joined Terry Gross on her NPR interview show Fresh Air recently. The two spent most of their time discussing the current pandemic. But, King also shared his thoughts on The Outsider, the 2020 HBO series based on his novel.

King also took the opportunity to talk about what appears to be his favorite character he’s ever written, Holly Gibney. Holly is a driving force in The Outsider, among other books King wrote. He told Gross:

I just love Holly, and I wish she were a real person and that she were my friend, because I’m so crazy about her. The first book that she was in was Mr. Mercedes, and she more or less stole the book and she stole my heart.

Holly was a bit different in the HBO version of ‘The Outsider’–but King still ‘loved’ the series

However, the version of Holly Gibney’s character in the HBO series The Outsider was fairly distinct from the Holly that appears in King’s books. He told the interviewer that “the character, the Holly that that Richard created was … very capable in one area.” King described the Holly on HBO’s adaption of his 2018 novel as the “kind of person where she can remember who did every rock song for 35 years, but she’s never listened to a record.” (Actress Cynthia Erivo plays Holly in HBO’s The Outsider.)

But the differences in Holly’s personality didn’t sour The Outsider for King.

“Well, I loved the series,” the author shared. “I loved what they did to it.” He went on to describe a wonderful professional experience with Richard Price, the person who developed The Outsider for HBO. King called Price “a fantastic novelist,” gushing: “I’m a long time fan of his work.” One of the things that worked well for Price and King was the combination of their two writing genres. King explained:

[Price] does a lot of police procedural stuff, very tough, very gritty, nuts and bolts. He knows a lot about that sort of thing. And I was stunned to learn during my relationship with him … that he’s also a huge horror fan and he’s read a lot of my stuff.

The fact that The Outsider is a scary story mixed in with a police drama is something King says he “really loved” about writing the novel. He enjoyed being able “to use the all the bells and whistles of police procedurals” and “combine them with the horror story.”

Author Stephen King on the ‘powers of perception’

The Fresh Air host a;sp took the opportunity, in discussing Holly Gibney, to ask the author about his personal beliefs about human abilities.

“Do you believe that some people have special powers of perception?” Gross asked. The Outsider author answered in the affirmative, saying he’d “seen it.” As King explained to the radio host: “There are kids who can suddenly sit. And play the piano. They just hear the music in their heads. … kids who are 7 or 8 years old, who are chess prodigies.”

King went on to say this idea–of prodigies, of almost supernatural powers–is one of the reasons he writes.

Stephen King
Author Stephen King in 2013 | KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

“It’s one of the things that fascinates me about this whole spectrum that I write in,” the writer told Gross. And that spectrum, he believes, is wide; it’s not just horror stories. King said on Fresh Air:

People can call me a horror writer if they want to. And that’s fine as long as the checks don’t bounce. I’m happy with that. But I think that I do a lot more. I’m interested in the mystery of what we are and what we’re capable of doing.