Author Stephen King is like the Sherlock Holmes of horror, detecting and exposing our deepest fears. And he has his Watson. Russ Dorr, a mild-mannered physician’s assistant living in Merrimack, has been King’s researcher, adviser and a close friend for more than 30 years, ever since a doctor’s visit where King asked Dorr if he’d dig up a few facts for a book he was working on. King had just published his first novel “Carrie” but was far from a household name.Russ Dorr’s name has since appeared regularly in the acknowledgement pages of King’s books, but he’s remained happily under the radar until recently, when Wired magazine published a short piece on his peculiar role. King’s book “Under the Dome” is just out and he recently made an appearance at the Music Hall in Portsmouth for their Writers on a New England Stage series.How many of King’s books have you read? All of his books, and most of the short stories; I may have missed a few.You must not scare easily. I do scare easily! As a rule, I do not watch horror, and if I do I have to have the remote in my hands.What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever had to research for him? Good grief. There have been so many. The top two have to be how to make crystal meth, and he once asked me how much of himself a person could eat and still stay alive. That was pretty outrageous, if I say so.Does he ever crack you up? All the time! With “Under the Dome” we laughed and laughed — it was such great fun. My close friend who knows of my work with Steve would say that we are having way too much fun to be working.So of all the PA’s in all the medical offices in the world, King had to run into you. You must have done something that made an impression on him. Well, we treated each other like human beings, we were young and smart, had a sense of humor, had kids of about the same age. In those days we both drank Budweiser and smoked Marlboros. I guess we just thought each other were cool.What turned that chance encounter into such a long and productive relationship? Well, I don’t write the books — he does the heavy lifting. I give him the input and the thread of reality mixed into the fiction to complete his idea. After so many years I can attempt to anticipate his thought process, and have a ready answer for where he is going. Many times it is three or four different avenues depending on where his story takes him. He is the first to say that when he starts, he doesn’t know where the story will take him.
This article appears in the November 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine