Author and executive producer Stephen King as well as cast and filmmakers discuss the new series ‘Mr. Mercedes.’
AT&T Audience Network

Even Stephen King is allowed a crisis of confidence once in a while.

The iconic author is currently stuck on one aspect of a new novel he’s started — “If I could think of a title, I’d be really happy” — and years ago, when tackling the detective genre with 2014’s Mr. Mercedes, King worried about not being the “scary guy” people expect from his long literary career.

“I had this discussion with myself: ‘Wait a minute, you’re in your 60s now. You’re doing OK financially — it isn’t like you need to write a certain kind of story in order to feed your family. Are you going to do this, or punk out and be gutless?’ ” King recalls.

The best-selling Mercedes kicked off a modern-noir trilogy and now comes to TV with an AT&T Audience Network series (premiering Wednesday) starring Brendan Gleeson as retired cop Bill Hodges and Harry Treadaway as the serial killer he has to catch.

It’s one aspect of a busy time for King: The film adaptation of The Dark Tower is in theaters now, a new It movie debuts on the big screen Sept. 8, he starts a book tour next month with son Owen for Sleeping Beauties (out Sept. 26), and the elder King has another tome, The Outsider, coming soon. 

“Don’t forget my record album!” the writer says, laughing. “Man, I’m kidding you.”

USA TODAY checks in with the master of horror about his work on page and screen:

What did you love about exploring the private-eye genre with Mr. Mercedes?

I’ve read detective novels my whole life and I say that without a shred of guilt, starting with Agatha Christie when I was 12 years old. The way I handled it was to go back to Hitchcock, where you really know everything and the characters don’t know anything. It’s not a whodunit, it’s this game of wits with life and death stakes we get to see from both sides.

You’ve been outspoken on Twitter about Trump and politics. Is that starting to creep into your work more?

The story should always carry some kind of personal, societal or political (subtext) but they shouldn’t be in the forefront. I…