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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Conversation with Stephen King & Owen King - My Experience

 A Conversation with Stephen King & Owen King

October 3, 2017 @ the Newmark Theatre in Portland, OR

Growing-up, my mother and eldest sister were huge fans of Stephen King. I remember the first of his books that I read back when I was in 5th grade. It was "Cycle of the Werewolf" and the biggest thing that drew my attention to it were the illustrations that were done by Bernie Wrightson. 

Reading this book at this time in my life definitely made an incredible impact of my development into the man I am today. It was from that single book that not only developed my fascination for King's writing, but also sparked my imagination while I was also coming into my own as a roleplayer. I can honestly say that the work of Stephen King has made the single largest impact on how I try to play RPG's.

King's impact on the young me would carry-on through my high school years where, in my sophomore English class, I decided to study-up on the man behind the writing for a project we were given. I was very excited, and put a great deal of time and research into it. When it was all said and done, I turned it in to my teach for grading. When my report was returned to me, the teacher was very critical not about my writing, but about my subject matter. He called King "full of himself" and overrated. My response to him was a simple one that did not help my grade one bit: "How many novels have you ever published?"

Fast forward to my junior year in high school when they decided to add a Creative Writing class into the curriculum. I was excited to join, until I found out that the same teacher who had scoffed at my project just a year before was the instructor for this class as well. *sigh* I persevered and this was the time in my life where I had firmly decided that I wanted to become a writer.

That was a long time ago, and I still occasionally feel the urge to write, my mind always races and I have never been able to complete a single writing project that I have started. When I was in high school, I kept a notebook full of story ideas. I never got around to writing any of them, but I remember that I have tried to develop several of them. I wish I still had that notebook today.

Now that the backstory has been set, let me bring you to the current day.

When I had learned that King and his youngest son, Owen, were doing a book tour and would be coming to Portland, I knew that I had to be there. For months I kept my eye on King's website to find out when the tickets were going to be available. The date had already been set, but there was no confirmation of the actual location. My hopes were that it would be similar to the event I went to several years ago for Neil Gaiman. I was giddy as a school girl with the thought of actually meeting my life-long hero in writing. The source of so many of my dreams and nightmares. The man I wanted to aspire to for so long.

When the ticket information was released, my heart sank when I learned that it would not be a personal signing and rather a talking event featuring the King's. I was not deterred. I knew that I had to go, and when the day arrived that the tickets became available, I was online about 30 minutes after and place my order for the "best available" tickets. What came-up was 2nd balcony. Although I was saddened by the fact that I would be so far away from seeing King, I did not allow this to upset me.

October 3, 2017 came. I drove to Portland, which I despise driving in, and found a decent and inexpensive place to park that was only about 2 blocks away from the venue. I had never been to the Newmark Theatre before so I wasn't sure what I was in for. My excitement was difficult to contain... until I got to my seat, that is.

I knew that I would be very close to the stage, but I wasn't prepared for the actual distance I experienced.

My bigger disappointment was about the actual seats more so that the location of them. As those readers who have seen photographs of me or have met me in person know, I am not a small man. As Gabriel Iglesias would say (and I prefer the term), I am a "fluffy" man. the seats were narrow and the arms dug-in to my sides. There was also absolutely no legroom and I was constantly concerned that one of both of my calves would cramp during the event. Happily, this did not happen.

Without any editing, this was my view of the ceiling from a seated position at my seat.

About 10 minutes later that the event was scheduled to begin, Miriam Sontz, CEO of Powell's Books took the stage. When she entered the stage, she had a single red balloon with her, and the audience cheered. It was at that point that 2 things were made apparent to me that I was unsure about before the event: 1) There was to be no photography during the event. 2) Only 400 copies of the book we were there for were going to be signed and randomly distributed. After the event, I went to the website, and wouldn't you know it... the disclosure of only 400 signed copies was right there where I didn't even notice it before.


Fortunately, Stephen and Owen King made the rest of the evening worth the wait and discomfort. They began by reading part of their new book, "Sleeping Beauties". Owen started and the Stephen completed the reading. I have never read any of Owen King's previous work, but as they read I could not begin to sense that it was actually written by 2 different men. The words were so fluid and the writing seemed of a single person. I have shared the storyteller duties in games several times in the past, and the storyline has always been woven well... but I couldn't imagine working with someone else to actually write a complete story or novel together; blending each others words and thoughts together to become a single entity. From what was read, I became interested in reading more from Owen.

I learned more about the man I had idolized since I was a kid. I found out that to earn money as a child, Owen would make his father customized books on tape, beginning with Dean Koontz's "Watchers". Later, as an adult, Owen gifted his father with a complete audio edition of Tolstoy's "War and Peace", which actually spanned from cassette tapes to CD's because of the advance in technology that had occurred while making it.

The Q&A portion of the evening was enjoyable. I could tell that the Kings were enjoying themselves up on stage as they passed the cards of questions from the audience to each other. While there were the occasional witty comments about Donald Trump, the evening never got political. The audience and I enjoyed the snarky comments and allowed the men to continue on their thoughts.

At the end of the event, each person received their hardback copy of "Sleeping Beauties" wrapped in a Powell's paper bag. I still have not opened mine to find out if it was one of the 400 or not. When I returned to my car, there was great rejoicing from a young lady in another vehicle in the garage as she found that she was once of the lucky 400. I don't intend on posting if mine was signed or not. Sorry to disappoint.

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