Master of the macabre Stephen King has made no secret of his disaste for the Trump administration, but — in a recent video interview with NowThis News — the Maine author expounded on why he finds the political ascension of Donald Trump “scarier” than any of his novels.
In the clip, King reflected on writing his 1979 novel “The Dead Zone” (adapted four years later into a film of the same name), a sci-fi horror-thriller in which a “real estate con man” named Greg Stillson runs an unlikely though successful presidential campaign devoted to upending the political establishment.
“I was sort of convinced that it was possible that a politician would arise who was so outside the mainstream and so willing to say anything that he would capture the imaginations of the American people,” King said.
When he first came up with the idea for “The Dead Zone,” the author had feared the rise of a Stillson-esque figure could precipitate nuclear armageddon. “Had I known — really known — the future, I could have had Greg say, ‘Well, I have a button, and it’s bigger than your button,’” referencing Trump’s statements about his “nuclear button” made last year in response to rhetorical saber-rattling by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“He’s a huckster from the word ‘go,’ and in that sense he’s got a lot of that Trump genome in him,” the author said of the “Dead Zone” antagonist.
Despite noting similarities between Trump and Stillson, King doesn’t necessarily claim to have predicted the rise of the current commander-in-chief; his book simply offered an assessment of what kinds of characters might captivate the attention of the voting public.
“I know that American voters have always had a real attraction to outsiders with the same kind of right-wing ‘America First’ policy,” King said. “And if that reminds people of Trump, I can’t be sorry because it was a character that I wrote. It was a boogeyman of mine, and I never wanted to see him actually on the American political scene, but we do seem to have a Greg Stillson as president of the United States.”