A conversation with Stephen King

I’ve always been partial to horror and scary things. Maybe its because my mom rented “The Raven” and “Watcher in the Woods” for me and my friends for my 9th birthday party. (aka the last birthday sleepover I had). Whatever the reason, I will choose a horror movie over a romantic comedy 95% of the time. I prefer being scared over being sad or sappy.

When I was around 13, I wanted to read a “scary book” and my mother told me to go up the street to my uncle’s house and ask if I could borrow one of his Stephen King books. He handed me a paperback of Pet Semetary (which I still have) and I was hooked. Along with playing to my love of being scared, King writes in such a descriptive way that I’m always sucked in, even to his non-horror books and stories. I’ve read many of his 50+ books and collect his first editions, my King collection is one of my most prized possessions.

So weeks ago when Charlotte informed me that he was coming to the Tsongas Arena, you can bet I jumped right on it. Due to mail issues with our address, my ticket never showed up, but I called a couple of days ahead of time and had quite an easy time picking them up at the window.

Call me a nerd, but I was probably overly excited. Its not every day you get to be in the same room as one of those five famous people you would have dinner with. (Martha, you’re next).

The “conversation” part was with Andre Dubus III, author of Townie¬†and part of the English Department at UMass Lowell. Stephen King and his wife decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from Friday night to UML’s English Department for scholarships. Very cool.

Andre and King did have a conversation about writing and specific works. We heard about inspiration for Cujo and how he reacted when the rights were bought for his first book, Carrie, which his wife had fished out of the trash. (He ran out and bought his wife a hair dryer.) We also heard about his humble beginnings and how he grew up with nothing and lived in a teeny tiny apartment until that first sale. It really came through how down-to-earth and funny and sweet he is.(“I’m a sucker for a good love story. You know, I have this reputation as a horror writer, but I really have a big marshmallow for a heart”)

The second part was a reading of a short story that was debuted that night, which was very exciting. It was called Afterlife and was less scary/gory and more thought-provoking. I’m hoping this means that he has a new short story book coming out soon, because his short stories are genius.

The last part was Q&A with the audience. One of the highlights of this portion was when an 11 year old boy stood up and could barely speak… starting with “… I’m talking to Stephen King”. King was gracious and thorough in answering the 10 or so questions that he took from the floor but had to eventually stop. He signed the chairs on stage that were raffled off. I didn’t win… but I also didn’t buy a ticket. He also closed by informing us that there could be a madman in the back seat of our cars that 7% of us didn’t lock, so make sure to check the back seat. Perfect.

I sat at attention for the hour and a half with a silly grin on my face, totally in awe. It went by in a flash and I would definitely go again, although I don’t know how often he does these kinds of appearances. I’m always nervous when I get overly excited for something that its going to be a letdown, but this was even better than I thought it would be. I even bought one of his books (that I may or may not have in a moving box somewhere) on the way out. Because you can never have too many copies of The Stand.

Do you read Stephen King books? Have you ever seen an author speak? My favorite King book is Salem’s Lot… but honestly, I love them all.

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2 Responses to A conversation with Stephen King

  1. Alaina says:

    I’m a big Stephen King fan! I own Pet Semetary on paper back too. My aunt lives one block from him in Bangor and when I go visit, I run by it all the time. It’s a beautiful home. :-)

    I’ve never seen an author speak and I’ve always wanted to see Anthony Bourdain live.

  2. Katy says:

    That seems like an exciting event! I love horror novels too and I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books. I remember what got me hooked onto horror were R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books when I was a kid then as I grew up, I moved onto King.

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