''Just After Sunset,'' the author's first story collection in six years, was inspired by editing the ''Best American Short Stories'' book series

By Gregory Kirschling
November 07, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

A couple of years ago, Stephen King agreed to edit an edition of the annual Best American Short Stories book series. He hadn’t written short fiction in a while, and he specifically wanted to see if reading hundreds of other people’s stories would inspire him. Boy, did it. He got in the groove (”It was like catching a beat,” he says), and now he’s ready with Just After Sunset, his first story collection in six years. ”The difference between writing stories and novels is like the difference between a Ramones punk song and one of those Dire Straits records with four songs on it, two on each side,” he says. ”It was about finding that compression thing again.” And Sunset is also available in a collector’s edition that includes a DVD of N., the 25-episode video series (based on a story in Sunset) that King debuted this summer for small-screen platforms. ”I’m riding the crest of the technological wave,” he jokes. ”I don’t know if it’s a big deal, but it’s a fun deal.”