‘The Outsider’: What Did Stephen King Think of the HBO Series Based on His Book?

Stephen King is the legendary horror writer behind¬†The Outsider, among many other best-selling books. The 2018 novel recently became one of many of King’s works made into film and television. Richard Price developed the series for HBO–with Jason Bateman costarring, directing, and executive producing. King revealed recently in an interview what he thought of the miniseries.

Famous author Stephen King ‘loved’ HBO’s TV series ‘The Outsider’

The Outsider cast
Cynthia Erivo attends the premiere Of HBO’s The Outsider | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Stephen King recently spoke with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. While Gross and King spent most of the interview discussing the coronavirus pandemic, King also spoke at length about The Outsider¬†HBO series. What did he think?

“Well, I loved the series,” King said on Fresh Air. “I loved what they did to it.” He also gushed about the show’s executive producer Richard Price:

The guy who developed it, Richard Price, is a fantastic novelist and I’m a long time fan of his work … He 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.

HBO’s take on The Outsider was a perfect blend of the iconic author’s interests.

“One of the things that I really loved about writing The Outsider was I was able to take police work in a very rational ‘whodunit’,” he said. King thrilled at the opportunity “to use the all the bells and whistles of police procedurals.” But also to “combine them with the horror story.”

King on ‘The Outsider’ character Holly Gibney

The author also gushed about one of his all time favorite characters, Holly Gibney. She appears in The Outsider novel, as well as other books of King’s.

“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,” King told Gross. “The first book that she was in Mr. Mercedes, and she more or less stole the book and she stole my heart.” Holly in HBO’s version of The Outsider was a bit different. He explained:

The character, the Holly that that Richard created was … very capable in one area. …Richard Price’s Holly of the HBO series is that kind of person where she can remember who did every rock song for 35 years, but she’s never listened to a record.

“Do you believe that some people have special powers of perception?” the interviewer asked King. He replied yes–that he’s “seen it.” He told Gross: “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.”

He says the idea of humans with almost supernatural abilities is “one of the things that fascinates me about this whole spectrum that I write in.” The Outsider writer told Gross:

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. And I’m interested in the mystery of what we are and what we’re capable of doing.

Does the horror writer feel like he’s operating in a separate reality than normal people?

Fresh Air host Gross then asked King, “Do you feel like you live in a different reality than other people?” She asked because the author often writes about the paranormal. As Gross put it,”things that are outside of our perception and that are outside of what we consider to be … the the real, visible, perceivable world.”

“I think the answer is that 20 hours a day I live in the same reality that everybody else lives in,” King told Gross. But, when he’s writing, it’s a different story. The Outsider author explained:

But for four hours a day, things change. And if you ever asked me how that happens or why it happens, I’d have to tell you it’s as much a mystery to me as it is to anybody else. All I know is that when I sit down in front of the … computer now–things change.

Stephen King
American author Stephen King | KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

King told Gross that he “discovered the talent” or writing at age seven or so.

“I still feel much the same as I did in the early days, which is I’m going to leave the ordinary world for my own world,” he said. “And it’s a wonderful, exhilarating experience. I’m very grateful to be able to have it.”