Maine Grade-Schoolers Wrote a Pandemic-Inspired Novel, and Stephen King Is Paying for Its Publication

Stephen King, benevolent benefactor.
Stephen King, benevolent benefactor. / Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

As a lifelong Mainer who sets most of his stories in his home state, Stephen King’s literary legacy in the Pine Tree State is already pretty massive. Now, he’s expanding it even further—this time by helping a group of Maine grade-schoolers publish their book.

According to Rolling Stone, the young writers are members of the Author Studies Program at Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. They didn’t exactly have to start from scratch: Author Gary Savage, the program’s mentor, let the students work off his 2016 historical fantasy novel Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole, about a 14-year-old Maine boy who unlocks a portal to another world. They’ve spent the past several years using that book’s themes and characters for their own stories and skits, and they even penned a sequel: Fletcher McKenzie and the Curse of Snow Falls.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced a school shutdown last year, the program’s participants decided to write a version of Savage’s original book in which Fletcher McKenzie must brave death and danger to find a vaccine for COVID-19. After the kids launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of publishing their 290-page manuscript, King caught wind of the project and stepped in. The requisite $6500 was officially donated by his non-profit organization, the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, which “[focuses] on community-based initiatives in the state of Maine.”

“I've been in [the Author Studies Program] for the past four years, and only the people in my school have ever gotten to read what I've written, and it's really cool to think that (now) pretty much anyone can read anything you write,” fifth-grader Hailey LaBrecque told WMTW.

The book isn’t available just yet, but the students already know where the profits will go: to the school library.

[h/t Rolling Stone]