Whether or not you’re a horror fan, you’re likely aware of Stephen King. If you aren’t, then you’ve been living under a rock. King’s first published book was 1974’s Carrie. Since then, he has written nearly eighty books, sold more than 300 million books, and a ridiculous number of his books and stories have been adapted to film and television. But there’s one thing about Stephen King that the masses aren’t aware of: The Dollar Baby.

So, you’re asking, what the hell is a Dollar Baby? Here’s the rundown: in 1977, Stephen King established a policy in which he allowed aspiring filmmakers to option one of his short stories for adaptation for the not-so-Kingly sum (ahem) of one dollar. There are a number of stipulations that go along with this, the primary being that the films are not to be shown commercially. So, the term “Dollar Baby” has dual meanings; it can be used as the descriptor for one of these films, or for a filmmaker who has produced one of them.

Because most of the films are not easily available for public consumption (beyond The Woman in the Room and The Boogeyman, 1982, which were released on videocassette by Granite Entertainment in 1986), the general public is largely unaware of their existence. The one dollar policy and a few of the films received write-ups in King-themed books, such as Stephen J. Spignesi’s The Stephen King Encyclopedia (1990), but by and large, the Dollar Babies have remained somewhat of a mystery.

In 2013, writer Anthony Northrup began interviewing the directors of these films to learn more about them. Then, in 2020, he set about writing the full-length study Stephen King Dollar Baby: The Book. (It was ultimately published by Bear Manor Media in 2021.) Diabolique recently sat down with Northrup to ask him a few questions and learn more about the project.

DIABOLIQUE: I take it you’re a big Stephen King fan?

ANTHONY NORTHRUP: “Big” is an understatement. I have been a fan of Stephen King’s since 1980, when I was nine-years-old and saw The Shining in the movie theater opening weekend. For a few years after that, I was more into his films growing up than his books. But then I saw Stand By Me in 1986 at the age of fifteen, and that changed my life. I immediately ran out and bought his novella collection Different Seasons after seeing his name in the movie credits. Then three years later, when I saw the film Pet Sematary, I ran out and bought that book. It was the first actual full-length novel by King that I had read. It scared me so much that I threw the book across the room (literally) after I finished reading it. It scared me that much! In the years since, I have slowly but surely built my Stephen King collection, which includes books, DVDs, t-shirts, buttons, stickers, action figures, you name it. I even have fifty Stephen King tattoos based on his characters. One arm is a Stephen King villain collage sleeve and my other arm is a Creepshow collage sleeve. I also have several Dark Tower tats including a tower from my ankle to my knee.

I also run a Stephen King fan page on social media called All Things King. I have been doing that for ten years, and the fan page now has more than five thousand members. I also hosted two Stephen King Dollar Baby film festivals at Minnesota’s Crypticon in 2014 and 2015. Then in April 2021, I hosted the Stephen King Rules Dollar Baby film festival, which was seen around the world.

And then, of course, there’s the book, which was released on January 29th, 2021. So, needless to say, saying that I’m a Stephen King fan is a bit of an understatement.

DIABOLIQUE: Stephen King Dollar Baby: The Book is your first published book. Was writing a King-themed book always a goal of yours?

NORTHRUP: I began writing in 1990, just as a hobby. Short stories and seven novels. It wasn’t until 2010 that I became a contributor to our local newspaper, the Tri-County Sun here in North Dakota. Writing for the newspaper, I polished my writing skills by writing film reviews, book reviews, celebrity interviews, and promoting various events. I won two North Dakota Writers’ Awards. Then in 2013, I started interviewing Stephen King Dollar Baby filmmakers and I hosted the two Dollar Baby film festivals.

I was never really sure what type of book I wanted to write. I knew fiction wasn’t really for me and that I did better with nonfiction. It was in 2020 that a couple of my writer friends took notice of my Dollar Baby articles and suggested that I write a book. I knew for years that I wanted to write something about Stephen King, but I didn’t know what until then. The Dollar Baby interviews and reviews were really taking off with the encouragement of some close friends, to whom I am forever grateful. That’s when I knew the time had come. It just felt right so I went for it.

DIABOLIQUE: So you wrote the book.

NORTHRUP: I did! Since I first started writing the Dollar Baby interviews and reviews up until 2020, I had a lot of material already. I could have written a book with just that and been done with it. But I felt that there was more than that to tell. I wanted to do more than just interviews and reviews. I wanted to pull the curtain back and show the world that there’s more to the Dollar Baby program than just these films and the men and women behind the camera. There’s a lot more, and I wanted to be the one to share that “secret world” to the Stephen King fans who hadn’t been able to see these films or maybe hadn’t even heard of the Dollar Babies.

Once the book was written, completed, and published, I knew this was what I was meant to write. I found my purpose, so to speak.

DIABOLIQUE: What will readers learn and discover within the pages of the book?

NORTHRUP: They will find a lot inside. It’s packed full of exclusive interviews with Stephen King Dollar Baby filmmakers from around the world and my reviews of those films. But they will also find essays by a lot of talented writers, actors, and directors who have either worked on Stephen King films or have written about King. There is also a lot of fun trivia and fun facts, as well as stories, fan thoughts about King, and whole lot more. Stephen King Dollar Babies: The Book is almost six-hundred pages, so it covers a lot of information.

DIABOLIQUE: I hate to put you on the spot here, but I’m going to anyway. [Laughs.]

NORTHRUP: That’s fine. [Laughs.] Put me on the spot. I’m ready.

DIABOLIQUE: I’m sure that you have enjoyed a lot of these films, but if you had a gun to your head and were pressed to say which Dollar Baby film is your single favorite, what would that be?

NORTHRUP: That is a really hard question to answer! [Laughs.] I have seen eighty Dollar Baby films, so just picking one isn’t easy. I will say this, I have nothing but pure respect for all of these amazingly talented filmmakers. These men and women from all around the world had one thing in common: they had a dream. They took that dream, grabbed a camera, paid their dollar and signed the contract, and then ran out and made those dreams come true. I respect that.

Some of these films are only five minutes long, and some are over an hour-and-a-half long. Most Dollar Baby films average ten to twenty minutes in length. You have to take the amazing actors in these films into consideration as well. I have seen some performances that have just blown me away. It’s amazing. There is so much talent out there. I am very lucky, honored, and blessed to have been a part of this Dollar Baby world.

With that said, some of my very favorite Dollar Baby films are Survivor Type by Billy Hanson, The Doctor’s Case by James Douglas, That Feeling by Paul Inman, The Boogeyman by Mando Franco, One for the Road by Joseph Horning, and All That You Love Will Be Carried Away by Leonardo Granado. But again, all of the films are wonderful, special, and amazing in their own way. I truly love them all.

DIABOLIQUE: What has the overall reception for the book been like?

NORTHRUP: The reception has been very surreal. The book was number one on Amazon and number one at Bear Manor Media, the publisher, for two months. Most of the reviews have been positive. Some readers were extremely happy because they had never heard of Stephen King Dollar Babies before the book. Other readers have said that since they couldn’t see the films, the book gave them an idea of what they were about and how good they were. Many readers have been very kind, supportive, and thankful for the book. Believe me, the honor is all mine. I am very blessed by the wonderful emails and comments I’ve gotten about the book. I also get wonderful reactions at the in-store book signings I have attended. It’s all been just very surreal.

DIABOLIQUE: Will there be more Anthony Northrup books about Stephen King or his works?

NORTHRUP: I am currently working on a sequel to the first Dollar Baby book, and I do have some plans for other books about Stephen King’s world coming in the near future. Stay tuned.

DIABOLIQUE: Where can readers find Stephen King Dollar Babies: The Book?

NORTHRUP: The book is available from Amazon or on the Bear Manor Media website. Thank you for interviewing me.