Posted: February 26, 2004
Hi Richard, thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Lilja: Tell me a bit about you. I'm afraid that many of my readers don't know who you are and what you have done before your involvement with Kingdom Hospital.
Richard Dooling: I am primarily a novelist. You can read about me and my work at www.dooling.com that will save me repeating it here.
Lilja: How did you get involved with Kingdom Hospital? I heard that Stephen King contacted you after reading one of your books, is that correct? What do you say when your answering your phone and it's Stephen King in the other end?
Richard Dooling: Stephen King quoted from one of my novels (Brain Storm) in his book On Writing. He sent me a signed copy of On Writing with a nice note, and also said that he had read Critical Care and White Mna's Grave. After that, we began emailing, and he said that he might be doing a TV series about a haunted hospital and would I like to help. I said yes.
Lilja: I understand you are listed as a creative consultant and your main thing was to help with the Medical aspects in the series but I also know that you wrote some of the episodes. How would you describe your part in the making of Kingdom Hospital?
Richard Dooling: Originally I was hired to help with the medical jazz in the scripts, because I used to work in hospital intensive care units as a Respiratory Therapist. But even after the scripts have been written and are being shot, there are frequent changes and modifications that must be made to reflect the changing needs of the actors and film makers. That's a lot of what I do during the filming process. After awhile, I was upgraded to a producer, which means you must do whatever needs to be done at any given time.
Lilja: How did the writing process work? Did Stephen decide what would happen and in which direction the plot would go or did you work that out together?
Richard Dooling: We made an outline early on. Then Steve wrote the first four episodes and sent them to me for medical details. Then we kind of proceeded from there.
Lilja: How much of the series have you written and how much is written by King?
Richard Dooling: In terms of hours worth of scripts (of which there are 15), Stephen King wrote more than two-thirds of the series because he wrote episodes 1 and 13 which are both two hours long and most of the hourly episodes, too. I wrote four episodes (one hour ones), mostly in the middle.
Lilja: Stephen has said somewhere that if Kingdom Hospital gets renewed for a second season he would turn over the writing to you entirely. Is that true and if so, how do you feel about that?
Richard Dooling: At the moment, we are focussed on getting the episodes ready to air and making sure they are the best they can be. We don't have time to speculate about next season, if there is one. Stephen King likes Kingdom Hospital A LOT, and it's very personal for him. If it kept going, my guess would be that he would still write it, because it's fun.
Lilja: How much did you look at the original, The Kingdom, when you created the plot and the characters? Some of the characters are really close to the original one, like Dr. Jesse James and Dr. Stegman for example and some of the scenes are quite similar to the original. Did you aim for a remake?
Richard Dooling: We really liked the characters and some of the scenes from Lars Von Trier's Riget. We did not aim for a remake, we wanted to add a lot and to Americanize it, and as the series progresses you will see that we have added many characters and situations that are not in the Danish original.
Lilja: How much did you participate in the actual shooting of the series and if you where present at the shooting, what was your role then?
Richard Dooling: I don't shoot. I don't know anything about it. Writers don't belong on the set. They should be in their rooms writing.
Lilja: What do you think of Stephen King as a writer?
Richard Dooling: Stephen King is the grand master. That's why you built your website, yes? I differ from some of your visitors in one respect: I don't really get all that scared by a Stephen King book. Mainly he makes me laugh, which is the highest compliment I can pay to another author.
Lilja: You have written books like Brain Storm, White Man's Grave and Critical Care. How would you describe yourself as a writer to someone that hasn't read any of your books?
Richard Dooling: I write satire and horror.
Lilja: What is next for you?
Richard Dooling: More satire and horror.
Again, thanks for taking the time of to do this interview it was fun.