Hello writers, this is Adair Heitmann writing about meeting Stephen King on July 18, 2013. How does it feel to meet an author worth over $400 million? Pretty damn good. How did it feel, even though I’m not a voracious King fan? Pretty damn good. Thank goodness I’ve liked some of his movies. I attempted to hold my own among his thousands of fans.
I met King at a VIP reception at the Mark Twain House and Museum, in Hartford. His devotees were then bused to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts for a sold-out author interview. The Twain House was a fundraiser, with all proceeds benefiting the continuing educational and preservation activities of The Mark Twain House. My friend, David Williamson, owner of Betts Books, LLC, got VIP tickets. He was kind to include me in his family for the night.
Oh, it’s good to know a book-rock star. Not King, Williamson. David was besieged with Stephen King groupies at the VIP reception. While King was protected by his body guard and posed for pictures, the rest of us enjoyed an open bar and ate gourmet finger foods. It was the fans, however, of David’s, who flocked and buzzed around him. For you King lovers, David is the model for the character “Father Callahan” in King’s The Dark Tower series.
King, as you know, is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books. King has published 50 novels, and five non-fiction books. He has written nearly two hundred short stories, most of which have been collected in nine collections of short fiction. He wears his fame well. King was authentic and surprisingly funny.
I’ve been to a lot of author talks, yet this was the first time I’ve witnessed an author receive a standing O just by walking on stage. The audience roared to their feet, clapping and whooping, before King even sat down. Interviewed, at the Bushnell, by WNPR radio personality Colin McEnroe. King said, “All fiction writers are liars, We lie for a living.” King went on to encourage writers to “. . . find a sweet spot in what you are doing. When you get it right, no matter what it is you are doing, you get the buzz, you know you are in the sweet spot.”
King praised Charles Dickens as one of the best published authors to provoke emotions in his readers. King commented that he, himself, was a sensitive and imaginative boy. Now when he starts writing a book, he “starts with an image.” Once he has the image, the story flows from there.
When an audience member asked King what his favorite book-adapted-into-a-movie was, he answered, “Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Misery. In that order.” Gasping, I leaned over to David, and whispered, “That’s my list too!” In an instant I added my name to the Stephen King fan club.
McEnroe and King discussed many topics. The one that tattooed itself in my brain, was hearing that 36 years after first publishing it, King is writing the sequel to The Shining. As a writer myself, I think that is worth a standing O.