King first tapped the Dartmouth-trained practitioner to help him fact-check the terrifying supervirus he'd conceived for The Stand. King knows better than anyone the golden rule for horror and sci-fi: Make it as real as possible.
Bloody Business, by Will Grunewald for Down East magazine.
Next, 11/22/63, a work of historical fiction about a time-traveling English teacher from Maine who tries to stop the Kennedy assassination, required exhaustive archival research, plus site visits from Maine to Texas. “When I was done,” Dorr says, “I had a thick three-ring binder Steve could flip through, from 1958 to 1963, and within each year he could see things like sports scores, newspaper headlines, what was on TV Friday night, and how much a root beer cost.”
Here’s a great Q&A Errol Morris did with Stephen King on 11/22/63. Good stuff on process.
Q: I also wanted to ask you about the difficulty of actually writing something that is connected with real history.
A: Well, I never tried anything like that before, and I’m not sure that I would ever want to try again, because, man, it was too much like work. I mean, I’ve done stuff that’s used reality as a base before. In this case, that’s why I stopped the first time I tried it. I was teaching school, and it was 1971 and I was in the teachers’ room and people were talking about the Kennedy assassination. The 22nd would roll around and people would talk and write about the assassination and stuff. I guess somebody must have said, “What would it have been like if Kennedy had lived?” And I thought to myself, “I’d love to write a story about that.”