Seeing Stephen King

A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to snag tickets to see Stephen King and his son Owen King at a reading in Manhattan. The tickets were on sale for about five minutes before selling out, and I barely got my hands on a pair. The event itself was this past Tuesday, and this makes the third time I’ve seen King at a reading or book signing, twice in Manhattan and once in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. And I’m not really a big Stephen King fan! I’ve read three of his novels and liked them, but I don’t read much horror, and so don’t pick him up regularly. But, of course, Hobgoblin is a huge fan, and I’m always happy to accompany him to events.

This one was fun. Stephen and Owen both read twice, the first time reading from each other’s books, and the second time reading from their own. Stephen’s new book is Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, and Owen’s is Double Feature, neither of which I have read or am likely to read, to be honest, but Hobgoblin assures me that Owen’s book is very good, and I’m sure Stephen’s will be too. The most enjoyable part of the evening, though, was an interlude between readings when the two of them chatted informally for a while. Owen pulled out a book he said he’d found in a used bookstore, which turned out to be The Stephen King Quiz Book. Owen then asked Stephen a few questions about himself. The first question was an easy one about where he was born, which Stephen answered with no trouble. But the next three questions he missed! I don’t remember the specifics, but they were questions about places and character names from his novels, and I guess when you’ve written as much as Stephen King has, the details begin to get blurry after a while. So we all had a good, friendly laugh about that.

It was moving to see father and son together; they were clearly proud of each other and enjoyed each other’s company. One of the audience members asked Stephen, had he known back in 1970 that he would one day become Stephen King the extremely famous and popular author, whether he would have done anything differently back then. From what I know about some difficult times in his life, there are lots of ways he could have answered this. But he said, you know, I’m still happily married to the woman I married back then, and I have three great kids, and no, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. It was thoroughly charming.

Part of the price of admission was a copy of Doctor Sleep to be distributed after the reading. Some of them would be signed, but not all, and it was a matter of chance which each person would get. And look what I came home with:

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Seeing Stephen King

  1. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but my partner is a Stephen King lookalike (only younger and handsomer). I’ve often wondered if he went to one of these signings if people would assume he’s Owen King (who looks far less like his father).

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  2. What an awesome experience, and so lucky you are that you got to leave with a signed book. You know, ever since I listened to the audio book of King’s On Writing [narrated by himself] I always had the impression that he is probably a much nicer [and sort of “normaller”] person than one might assume from the mere reading of his novels. [My favorite is The Stand].

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  3. I’m so jealous that you’ve seen King not once but three times. And this sounds like a particularly fun event. I’ve not read Owen’s book, but I liked his son Joe’s most recent book a lot–and I enjoy Joe’s Twitter feed. I also happen to have one of Tabitha’s books out from the library now, as I’ve heard good things about her writing. There was a great piece on the whole family in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

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    • I didn’t read the New York Times piece, but Hobgoblin told me about it. Hobgoblin has read and liked the Joe Hill book, as well as Owen’s, as well as Owen’s wife’s book, Kelly Braffet’s Save Yourself. They are quite the literary family!

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  4. It sounds like a great evening! Hobgobblin must be so happy. I read his writing guide book a few years ago and I quite enjoyed his down to earth approach.

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  5. What a fun evening! My husband is a big fan and was at the bookstore when it opened the day Doctor Sleep came out. He’s enjoying the book quite a lot and would love to have been able to see King in person like you did. Heck, I would have even liked it and even though I haven’t read most of his books because they are way too scary for me.

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    • Hobgoblin is reading Doctor Sleep as I type this, and he’s enjoying it so far. I’m not into scary books either, but I think some of his more recent novels have been less in the horror genre. I liked the collection Full Moon, No Stars quite a lot, and it wasn’t very scary.

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  6. I’m not a fan, I have to admit, but I would still like to have been there because I just love listening to people talk about books. Our local Literary Festival starts during the coming week and next Saturday I’m going to a round table with only one author out of the four of whom I’ve heard. But last time I went to one of these I came away with two excellent novels that I would never otherwise have given a thought to. It’s always worth giving someone a chance.

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    • I hope you have a great time at the Literary Festival! That sounds great, and like an enjoyable way to learn about new books. I also like listening to people discuss books. I actually much prefer conversation about books to listening to writers read from their books. I’d rather just read the book on my own and hear what the author has to say about other things.

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  7. Glad to hear about the father/son reading. That sounds so much fun. I still remember Stephen King’s accident that left him much damaged physically. So looks like he has fully recovered from that and continued to thrive. Thanks for sharing with us this interesting event.

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