Getting the chance to meet Stephen King on Tuesday was truly a once in a life time chance and I will never forget it. I learned a lot from the experience and though I wish I could, I don’t know if I’ll be able to document it completely. I was so entranced most of the time, that unfortunately recording it was an after thought. However I will to the best of my ability share with you all what stuck with me.
Here is what I learned about Stephen King:
First off it was exceedingly clear to me that Stephen was and is an excellent father. For him to be so busy, famous, and successful, and yet maintain a decent, let alone good relationship with his children is beyond amiable. He has written books with both of his sons, and I believe the ability to work with one’s parents on such an intimate level is evidence that the relationship is well formed.
I was able to hear from Owen King, and hearing him talk about his childhood was moving. Sure he grew up with wealth and privilege, but that has never (in and of itself) determined how a child would be raised. Owen however talked of a father that aside from his time working, was present and involved in his children’s lives. A father who participated in the local community and even taught little league. To watch Stephen well up when his son praised the time they spent together on this book project, was again, insight into the heart of the relationship. More than anything else, learning how invested and loving Stephen King was as a father (though, as with anyone, he had his flaws) impressed me the most.
Stephen showed an amazing sense of humor; he was constantly making little jokes and even making fun of himself. He certainly loves life, and yet he sees the value in not taking it too seriously, this is a beautiful balance.
On the flip side, he also showed a vulnerability and deep side, that I had not expected. You can tell that he loves to connect; whether with family, or fans, or with Molly aka the Thing of Evil. He finds curious, strange, and equally remarkable ways of doing this. One of the greatest stories I heard was about how he would have his Children dictate books on tape. Audio books were the big new thing and he loved it, but you couldn’t find very much variety back then. So this was a great way to not only expose his children to literature, but also get to listen to books, what a phenomenal combination and what a gift! It all started because Owen was 8 and wanted to start earning money. He asked his dad if he could mow the lawn to earn some, but Stephen said “No, I’ve got a better idea.”
Stephen has clearly influenced his children in an extremely valuable way. They produce writing and have an abundant knowledge of literature, and of course a love for books. These characteristics are priceless. He was greatly influenced by his mother as well. The moment he knew he wanted to be a writer was when his mother was reading aloud The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and when Stevenson was very descriptively describing the crunching of bones, King knew in a flash “that’s what I want to do!” Referring to writing of course…
His mother was clearly someone that the apple did not fall far from. She read to them all matter of mystery etc. she loved a good thrill. King described the first time he was ever really truly scared: His mother would wait until they were asleep to listen to a late night radio station, I believe called Mystery Theater.
The children were not allowed to listen, because it was too scary. Stephen of course would wait till is brother was asleep, crawl out of bed, and then listen to the station through the crack at the bottom of his door. Such tenacity towards a blooming passion! I wish I could accurately describe for you the way I got to hear his recollection of this particular show, but it was a wonder to hear.
I believe from the way he talked, that his mother was also someone that contributed to his understanding and respect for women. When Stephen talked about this new books “Sleeping Beauties” you could tell he has an admiration for women, that is an uncommon thing to find in many men. I believe being raised by an intelligent and loving single mother was something that greatly impacted his views. He has also been married to his wife for 45 years now, and he talks of her with love and respect, it was lovely. His son Owen follows in his father’s foot steps with this quality.
The fact that these two men could take on the humbling and daunting task of writing a book about the ramifications and chaos, of a world without women, is brave and insightful.
Getting to know the wit, depth, and humor of the Master Stephen King, in such an intimate way, was extraordinary. His dialogue was so untainted and real; no frills, no bs, he was just genuine. And it revealed only that however genius and successful he may be, ultimately he is completely ordinary, human, and sane. Sure he had his daughter dictate The Bundy Murders and she didn’t sleep for a month, and sure the family sat around on holiday watching Christine…
He’s Stephen King for goodness sake, there’s got to be a little weirdness allowed! Simply put, he is a man who has lived with passion and character, is refreshingly down to earth and funny, who just happens to write brilliantly, and loves the hell out of books.
Fun Facts: Fun little tidbits I learned
#1: He also mentioned Bambi being the very first time he was ever afraid. “Man is in the forest” he said, “scared the hell out of me.” I live in the N.W. and this summer I sadly witnessed the horror that really is, man in the forest, so I heard him say that line with new awareness and deeper meaning.
#2 is Stephen Kings favorite book: The Lord of The Flies, The Catcher in The Rye being a close second.
#3 When asked what his favorite work was, of his own, he struggled to answer for awhile. He said it was like picking a favorite child. However he eventually did mentioned On Writing and one other that my brain misplaced, but then he finally settled quite resolutely on The Dead Zone.
Know any fun tidbits about Stephen King? Feel free to share 🙂