Stephen King admits he’s kind of a shark, though he doesn’t mean to be.
“They have to keep swimming and feeding all the time,” Maine’s master of horror said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “I have a life that’s just an ordinary life . . . but every now and then, you’ll see something — sometimes it’s two things that come together — that give you an idea.”
The idea behind King’s new book, “The Outsider,” has been taking shape for years — ever since he coached Little League for his (now adult) son. He uses that wholesome scene as the setting for the “crime-horror hybrid.”
“Nobody in a small town is more respected than someone who works with kids,” King said. “And if something happens to that person where they find out that they have a secret life that’s not nice, nobody is more reviled and hated, and I really wanted to use that.”
The story seems to take a turn for the supernatural after Terry Maitland, a teacher and Little League coach in Flint City, Okla., is arrested at a baseball game before dozens of families for mutilating and killing an 11-year-old boy.
It explores being in two places at once, the gruesome side of human nature and mob mentalities, and a murder mystery that isn’t as open-and-shut as it seems.
“The thing that came to my mind is what would a story be like if the evidence that somebody committed a horrible crime was ironclad,” King said in the interview. “But if the evidence that the person had a perfect alibi — what if that was ironclad?”
King also mentioned that one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, “William Wilson,” was in his mind as he wrote “The Outsider.” It tells of a young man at a school who meets another student with the same name who looks and dresses like him.
King called “The Outsider” one of those “magic books” that almost wrote itself.
Perhaps, King mused during the interview, it’s the ease with which he writes about such disturbing themes that leads people to ask him the same question.
“People will say that like in this sort of casual way, ‘What were you like as a child?’ ” King said, laughing. “And what they really mean is, ‘What screwed you up so badly that you want to do this?’ ”