Stephen King and his compulsion to write

(CBS News) Stephen King is a gifted author with shelves full of scary books to his credit . . . and enough TV shows and movies to give anyone the jitters. This morning he talks with Anthony Mason for this Sunday Profile


Bridgton, Maine, was home for writer Stephen King in the 1970s, and it inspired the fictional town of Chester's Mill, which, in his 2009 novel, is trapped "Under the Dome."

"When you were here did you sort of envision where the dome would come down?" Mason asked.

"Yeah, I knew exactly," King replied -- and he could show Mason the spot, on the old map still posted on Main Street.

"In the book this would be Route 119, it goes up through here, and the dome would be here," he explained.

This Summer, King's novel about a glassy dome descending on an unsuspecting town is being brought to life in a CBS series.

"It sort of came to me that if I could put a dome over an American town, it would be a microcosm for what's going on in the world itself, where we have finite resources, and we really have nowhere to go," he said.

"I like the idea of a small town, too, because people have got that 'Waltons' vibe, where everybody gets along, everybody knows everybody," King continued. "And I thought, well, if you put people under pressure, what happens then?"

Deputy Linda Esquivel (Natalie Martinez) is separated from her fiance, firefighter Rusty Denton (Josh Carter), by a mysterious barrier in "Under the Dome," based on the Stephen King novel.
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Mason asked King if writing is a compulsion for the 65-year-old author: "Or do you need to have some story that just gets in your brain you can't get out?"

"It's a compulsion," King replied. "For one thing, when I was younger, my head was like a traffic jam full of ideas, and they were all jostling, and they all wanted to get out. And I wrote a lot more than I write now. I still write every day."

Web Exclusive: To read an extended transcript of Anthony Mason's interview with Stephen King and to view web-only video click here.


Executive producer Stephen King on the set of the miniseries "Under the Dome."
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King was a public school teacher when he published his first book in 1974. He'd almost thrown the manuscript away, but his wife Tabitha saw something in "Carrie," the story of the girl with kinetic powers.

The paperback rights would sell for $400,000. A relentless parade of bestsellers has followed.

Mason asked, "Where did your interest in the dark side come from?"

"I don't know, I don't know," King laughed. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. I started off as a fan of movies about giant bugs that swallowed New York and Los Angeles -- I liked the idea that there was something, that things would get out of control, and somebody would battle to put control back in their lives."

In "Under the Dome," the local radio station tries to bring order back to the confused town.

WEB EXTRA VIDEO: Stephen King and Anthony Mason on the set of "Under the Dome." Click on the player below.

Mason and King visited the set of the show, in Wilmington, N.C. King is the show's executive producer.

What does that mean? "Well, I think it means that I will be a nice guy and give them pretty much carte blanche when it come to taking my situation and expanding it," King said.

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