When Owen King, a writer of light comedy, had a ‘horrible’ idea for a novel, he knew who to ask for help. But Sleeping Beauties is not a horror, he insists – there are no ghosts or scary clowns
Two years ago, a novelist called Owen King had “the littlest germ” of an idea for a book: “What if, one day, all the women in the world don’t wake up?” He loved it, but it wasn’t the kind of thing he usually wrote. His novels, while well-reviewed, never exactly set the charts alight. Fortunately, his father – one Stephen King – was something of an expert in post-apocalyptic horror. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, it would be just fucking horrible.’ I can tell my dad, it sounds like something he’d be really interested in.”
Discussing story ideas with his father wasn’t something he’d done before. “My dad is always getting pitched stupid ideas,” says Owen, sitting in his publisher’s London office. “If he goes to the corner store, there’ll be somebody who walks up and says, ‘Boy, have I got a horror story for you, Steve. I’ve got your next horror novel right here.’ But he loved it. And I was like, ‘Do it!’” Stephen initially declined this offer, but Owen did not feel capable of writing the story himself. So they did it together.