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THE GREEN MILE

About The Story
Filmmaker Frank Darabont was hooked on The Green Mile after reading just the first of six installments of Stephen King's novel. The bestselling author composed the story in a manner he had never tackled before, releasing it in serialized form over a period of six months between April and September, 1996.

The format thrilled readers, who took each of the six chapters to the top of the paperback bestseller list during the course of the year. When the sixth and final chapter (subtitled "Coffey on the Mile") hit bookstores on September 9, King achieved a rare triumph -- all six installments of The Green Mile appeared simultaneously on the Publisher's Weekly national bestseller list.

In looking back on the novel's success, King admits that the story "was very difficult for me to write." Two years before he actually began composing the novel in 1995, he had outlined a story involving the electric chair and a black inmate named Luke Coffey, a magician whose secret powers could possibly be used to make himself disappear before walking the Mile.

King changed his conception of the magician character and his "idea for a story became The Green Mile. I just hoped I wouldn't run out of inspiration before it was done. In a lot of ways, dealing with John Coffey was a difficult thing to do. Here is a man on Death Row who may be innocent, who is able to help some of his fellow captives. That was the basic idea of the story."

Once King began to write, he chose to release his new novel in serial form. Inspired by literary giant Charles Dickens, who published many of his works in this manner, King relates, "I always loved stories told in episodes. It is a format I first encountered in the Saturday Evening Post.

"When The Green Mile was published, nobody had attempted a serial novel in the U.S. since the ‘20s. When the first episode, ‘The Two Dead Girls,' was to go on sale, I thought to myself, ‘I've made the biggest mistake of my life.' Nobody had any idea that it would succeed to the level it did, least of all me."

But, in composing his work in such a format, King also confesses the advantage he enjoyed over his audience by publishing The Green Mile in episodic form. "In a story which is published in installments...simply put, you cannot flip ahead and see how matters turn out. That is an appeal that I suspect only the writer of suspense tales and spooky stories can fully appreciate."

Prior to the publication of the books in 1996, Darabont knew that King had embarked on this new assignment. The pair "chatted on the phone, and (Stephen) mentioned he had this idea for a new story, and gave me a 30-second description of it," the filmmaker remembers. "It sounded so fantastic to me. I told him to write it and give me first crack at it, which he did. So I heard the genesis of this from Steve before he actually sat down to write it. But I had to wait and read all six books on a monthly basis, just like everyone else."

"I read the first installment, jumped on a plane and flew to Colorado where King was doing the miniseries ‘The Shining,'" Darabont recalls. "I drove up a mountain just like Jack Torrance in ‘The Shining' to try and find Stephen and say ‘Yes, I really want to do this.'

"I'm a big fan of all his stuff," Darabont declares. "I have been since I read The Shining in high scho

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