Author Event: Stephen King!

The Kansas City bookish crowd turned out en masse to hear Stephen King speak last week in Kansas City. He was brought in by local independent bookstore Rainy Day Books and the format of the event was a conversation with the owner Vivien Jennings. This event was quite a big deal –  before Stephen came out, Vivien said that she was even more nervous to speak with him than when she was in conversation with Hilary Clinton!

Not to bore you with the details but I want you to get a sense of how different this event was from the other author events Rainy Day books holds. Usually, a person buys a ticket which is the price of the whatever book is being promoted.  For that price you get your ticket, a guest ticket and a copy of the book. After the author is finished speaking, everyone lines up to get their books signed. Sometimes the author lets you take a picture with him or her, sometimes not. At Stephen King, your $30 ticket got you a copy of his new book Revival – no guest ticket and there was a limit of four tickets per customer. Vivian let us know that after Stephen came on stage, he would stand up for approximately 30 seconds and we could take pictures of him at that time – with no flash. After he sat down, there would be no more photos or videos. Finally, there was no signing at the end. King randomly signed some copies of his book and if you were lucky, the book you got was signed. Unfortunately, my copy was not. Oh, and there was not one, not two, but THREE security guards in the lobby. Stephen King is truly a rock star in the literary world!

Okay, now on to his actual conversation with Vivien. King said his new book, Revival, is about the power of religion and the scars that it leaves. It allowed him to express all his reservations about religion. He said that the title, Revival, has more than one meaning. There is the church revival and there is also revival as in bringing someone back from the dead.

He said that he chose the Methodist church as the religion in Revival because he grew up Methodist.  He mentioned that one of the main characters participates in MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) as a child, like he did. I thought that was funny because I also grew up Methodist and was in MYF. Stephen King and I have so much in common.

Vivien asked him was he thought about fiction being divided into different genres (e.g. horror, literary, women’s fiction). He said there is an arbitrary divide between literature and fiction. [Which I agree with – who decides what is what?] He said he when he was awarded the 2003 National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters it felt like the equivalent of winning Miss Congeniality in a beauty pageant. He pointed out that the same thing happens in the movie world. He felt that Dee Wallace Stone deserved an Oscar for her performance in the movie Cujo but of course was never considered since Cujo is labeled as a horror movie.

He told a really funny story: He was grocery shopping and a lady came up and asked him if he was Stephen King. He said yes and she proceeded to tell him that she didn’t like his books because they were too dark and disturbing. She said she preferred uplifting books like Shawshank Redemption. When he said he wrote that too, she protested and said, “No, you did not!” She really didn’t believe him.

When Vivien asked him about critics, he said that he believes that if every critic says the same thing, then it’s probably true but every critique is different, then the critics are full of crap. He also said that if someone takes away a book from you, buy it and find out what they don’t want you to know. [Good advice!]

Stephen talked about his love of music and that he plays guitar. Vivien’s husband Roger brought out a $2,000 guitar (sorry, I know nothing about guitars so I can’t tell you what kind it was or anything)  that a music store lent them for the occasion and asked Stephen to play.  He played The Shadows of Knight’s Gloria and the 1,200 person sold-out audience sang alone and gave him a standing ovation. Then he mysteriously vanished…. (or exited the stage, I’m not sure which.)

***I want to thank my friend Average Jane profusely for letting me use the photos she took at the event in this post. I do not take pictures well under pressure and all of mine turned out really crappy.***

  • Average Jane

    That was such a great presentation! I’m glad you were able to recap some of it because I was kicking myself for not bringing a notebook to take notes.

    • ChaosIsAFriend

      Thanks. Even with a notebook, it was hard to capture all the great things he said. I was writing fast and furious!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    Oh, I bet that was great fun! I bet the security guards were there in part because some of his fans must be rather creepy.