01/29/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
It's curtains for Stephen King's career as a writer, he's insisting. The prolific horror master, 54, whose "Rose Red" mini-series was a Sunday night success for ABC, told the Los Angeles Times that he is retiring from writing -- just as soon as he finishes five more books, two of which already are scheduled for 2002, as well as work on another limited series for ABC. "Then that's it," he told the Times. "I'm done. Done writing books." As for why, he said, "You get to a point where you get to the edges of a room, and you can go back and go where you've been and basically recycle stuff." With regard to this fall's publication of his novel "From a Buick Eight," he said, "I've seen it in my own work. People when they read 'Buick Eight' are going to think 'Christine.' It's about a car that's not normal, okay? You can either continue to go on, or say I left when I was still on top of my game. I left when I was still holding the ball, instead of it holding me." As an example, the Maine-based King cited another author of popular fiction. "I don't want to finish up like Harold Robbins," he said, referring to the pulp novelist who started with well-reviewed works such as "A Stone for Danny Fisher" before he churned out "The Carpetbaggers," "The Betsy" and other works that the critics labeled outright trash. Said King, "That's my nightmare."