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Stephen King ready to close book as writer?

Stephen King
Stephen King, shown holding "a friend" in a 1994 photo, has a new miniseries, "Rose Red," doing well in the ratings for ABC.  

(CNN) -- Is Stephen King hanging it up?

The prolific King of Horror said as much in an interview in Sunday's Los Angeles Times.

After he publishes five more books, two of which already are scheduled for 2002 -- including a collection of short stories -- as well as work on a limited series for ABC, he's ending his career in publishing, he said.

"Then that's it. I'm done. Done writing books," he told the Times' Kim Murphy.

Why? he was asked.

"You get to a point where you get to the edges of a room, and you can go back and go where you've been and basically recycle stuff," he said.

Referring to the novel "From a Buick Eight," scheduled for release in the fall, he noted, "I've seen it in my own work. People when they read 'Buick Eight' are going to think 'Christine.' It's about a car that's not normal, OK?"

He added, "You can either continue to go on, or say I left when I was still on top of my game. I left when I was still holding the ball, instead of it holding me."

Indeed, King remains as popular -- if not more so -- as he's ever been. His most recent novel, "Dreamcatcher," topped best-seller lists last year, and his current project, the ABC miniseries "Rose Red," dominated ratings Sunday night when it premiered.

In 2000, he began an experiment in e-books, writing a story called "The Plant" available for a fee through his Web site only. Though he eventually pulled the plug, the project could be judged a qualified success, given that it earned the author a tidy sum -- and lots of publicity for the attempt.

These successes came after some of the most difficult times in King's life. In June 1999, the writer was struck by a van near his home in Maine, leading to months of painful convalescence. In his 2000 book "On Writing," he recalled having to overcome doubts that he'd ever write again as well as being brutally honest about his battles with alcoholism and drugs in the 1980s.

He began writing "Rose Red" as therapy after completing "On Writing."

"I was using the work as dope basically because it worked better than anything they were giving me to kill the pain," he told the Times. "It was very difficult to push the pen 45 minutes a day, but it was vital to get back to work because you have to break the ice somehow."

But now that he's proven he can write, it's time to leave, he said.

"I don't want to finish up like Harold Robbins," he said, referring to the pulp novelist who started with well-reviewed works such as "A Stone for Danny Fisher," later suffered a damaging stroke and ended his career in steep decline. "That's my nightmare."


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