Now free to write full time, and having produced two books set in Maine, Stephen King decided to move so he could absorb a new setting. According to one version of the story, their destination was left up to chance—a blind finger-stab at a US roadmap.
In 1974, after King finished “The Body,” the family moved to a rented house in Boulder where King planned to write The House on Value Street, a novel loosely based on Patty Hearst’s kidnapping by the SLA. He struggled with it for several weeks and abandoned it after he and his wife spent a getaway weekend at the Stanley Hotel in nearby Estes Park.
They arrived on the night before the Stanley closed for the winter, and were its only guests. The mostly empty hotel struck King as the perfect setting for a ghost story. Only one entrée was being served in the dining room. The chairs were stacked atop every table except theirs. The tuxedo-clad orchestra played for them and them alone. A person could get lost in the endless hallways he wandered after Tabitha went to bed. The hotel bartender was named Grady. The clawfoot bathtub in their room was so deep someone might drown in it. That night, he dreamed of their son, Joe, screaming as a fire hose chased him. Soon, King had the framework of the story in his head. » Read more