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December 28, 2012 8:23 AM   Subscribe

A Conversation With Stephen King (NSFW language, MLYT)

Highlights Of King's Visit To UMass Lowell

The conversation
"Afterlife" premier
Q&A - On A Possible Theme Park, The Boston Red Sox & More

Stephen King On Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, Lovecraft & More

Phone interviews
On How 'Carrie' Might Be Different If He Wrote It Today
On Writing A Musical & Working With John Mellencamp
On How Fear Is Used In The Media & More
On Why He Is Coming To UMass Lowell
On His Career, The Walking Dead & More
Thoughts On The Horror Genre
1 on 1 Interview
posted by fearfulsymmetry (23 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. Goldmine.
posted by Artw at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Usonian and I were there. It was, in fact, awesome.
posted by Lou Stuells at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2012


Man, what a lot of King! Gonna have to watch this as I eat dinner.

I still read On Writing now and then. I like it. I don't agree that I should cut all adverbs from my writing, but advice usually has to overstate its case to stick.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:53 AM on December 28, 2012


I'd read somewhere that the accident had really affected him for a while, that at first it seemed as if he'd probably be in pain and have to walk with a cane for the rest of his life, but that he'd come back from that in a big way, and he sure looks and sounds good here for someone age 65 that's been in a major accident.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:23 AM on December 28, 2012


Ooh! Ooh! This is so wonderful! *settles in for a pleasant afternoon* I can't help it, I love his stuff. Read Duma Key not long ago, and while it wasn't his best, it was still a compelling read. Like most of his books! Even the ones I don't love! How does he do that?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:52 AM on December 28, 2012


I tried to listen to it but the host/interviewer is too annoying to listen to. Shouting and summoning applause for every little thing. Shut up and get on with it man.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:57 AM on December 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seconding Liquidwolf. Jesus, what an annoying ass.
posted by New England Cultist at 11:04 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the 50 Shades of Grey link, why is Andres Dubus hovering around the goddamn stage like a grinning monkey?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:07 AM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awesome post though - the S King stuff is great great great. I haven't read him in over 20 years, but Stephen King is definitely a post-Christmas memory for me.

As a teen I would usually get a massive Stephen King hardcover book for Christmas, and on Boxing Day I would start reading it in the living room.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 AM on December 28, 2012


> I still read On Writing now and then.

I still refer back to it on occasion too. It's a remarkable book, especially given that King can be such a dull-eared hack with his prose.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:13 AM on December 28, 2012


My favorite Stephen King book is 'The Long Walk'. I'm amazed it has not been made into a film yet.
posted by Therapist in NYC at 11:14 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Without being overly/reflexively cynical, I can tell you that the closest we'll ever get to a movie of The Long Walk is The Hunger Games. Seriously, look at the original book of The Running Man (which The Hunger Games also drew from) and compare it to the movie.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:20 AM on December 28, 2012


Obviously King loves to write and loves to talk, but listening to him here interact warmly with his audience, it's really obvious he's a Class A mensch.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:32 AM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's interesting to hear him reminisce: he's so visual, always picking up on these visual things from his memories that aren't even necessary to the tale except to add color. Very writerly.

I'm a complete nobody so it's not as if I have ever been asked this question personally but I don't get why folks ask "how do you get your ideas". I mean, really!? Are there really people out there who don't have like a billion ideas constantly running through their heads all the fucking time? Isn't that how our brains are supposed to work, constantly posing "what if" scenarios? That's how my brain works.

It would never even occur to me to ask a writer where her ideas come from because I guess I just always assumed that being alive is a constant flood of ideas and the real trick is holding on to one long enough to make it into something.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's really weird how well King has aged. If anything, he looks less goofy now than he did at age 30.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:03 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doleful Creature
Some people don't have that though. I found that out while talking to my mom. It's not that she doesn't think or come up with ideas, but she doesn't get story ideas.
posted by stoneegg21 at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doleful Creature, your mind may overflow with ideas. Mine, to take another sample, receives a trickle. When I was in journalism school, I had trouble thinking of topics to cover. When I found something good, it turned out to be too broad to cover in 700 words. I found most of my subjects on their stories' due dates. I don't write good journalism.

Meanwhile, lines from potential poems come without any partners. Nothing follows the first sentences and false epigraphs that force their way in.

For all that, it's still a silly question. You can't go anywhere specific for ideas. They come from unexpected and unconscious combinations of sense and memory. To consciously go somewhere or do something to generate ideas is to find only the expected ones, which are the weakest.

Someone once asked Vonnegut where he got his ideas. He said he got them from Cincinnati. I like the spirit of that one.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Neil (blessed be his name) Gaiman on the topic of where ideas come from and why writers dislike that question.
posted by Ber at 12:43 PM on December 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


I tried to listen to it but the host/interviewer is too annoying to listen to. Shouting and summoning applause for every little thing.

He's pretty annoying, but more importantly, people wearing a microphone should not be constantly clapping right next to it.

it's really obvious he’s a Class A mensch.

I've only seen King a few times in passing but it seems that way to me. I once wrote a short letter to his foundation explaining why our Youth Hostel in Bar Harbor needed money, and he/they sent $10,000. (Obviously none of the money went to me, but it was definitely the most $/word I ever earned by writing.)

"how do you get your ideas"

Years ago, King famously said that his writing was helped because he had “the heart of a small boy.” He added, “It sits in a jar on top of my desk.”
posted by LeLiLo at 2:13 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just listened/watched him read Afterlife. Lots of fun. I've heard him read before and I do enjoy him reading, something that I just cannot do, that reading aloud in public thing; even if I wrote it, my tongue gets all twisted around. But King is good at it, patient with himself and with the audience, too, that one guy who kept on laughing, on and on, breaking up King's rhythm; that guy needs to get married so's his wife can poke him sharp in the ribs with her elbow when he's being a dick, which he sure was that night.

I like King's take on writing also but I only have a soft-copy of it, and not him reading it, either. I'm not much on reading off a puter or phone or tablet, probably I need to give the tablet more of a try, bought a nook and it just did not blow my skirt up at all, didn't/doesn't feel right in my hand, and I don't like reading off of it. Probably I need to work at it some. I just love books though.

~~

I'm re-reading The Shining, just for the heck of it; it's dated, more than I thought it would be. I'm sure The Stand would have the marks of time on it too. Anyways, I'm reading The Shining and I was hoping that there was some reading out of the sequel in this post -- no such luck. Dang it. I am quite interested in where King takes Danny Torrence, or where Danny Torrence takes King more-like, unless I miss my guess.

~~

I've wondered some, what it must be to write fiction, to walk through the pages with your characters as they unfold or unroll or whatever they do -- I know that when I'm writing I mostly don't have a clue what's coming next or why or where I'm headed with it, and that's writing just my day-in-the-life -- Woke up / fell out of bed / dragged a comb across my head -- which is about as close to home as a person can get; I have to wonder what it is to parade around with these other people as they show on the page. It makes me smile, I'm intrigued, and interested.

I like to talk to them -- writers -- and ask them about it.

I did have a go with a writer once, and she was a big mess, same as anyone else, but she was different in that writerly way -- eyes held back some, worn brown shoes, interesting clothing, interesting jewelry. A woman that could wear a hat. I felt then and feel yet that I was lucky to spend that time with her. I just loved to talk with her, and listen, too, close as I could. Who knows, maybe she's gotten some words from our time together, maybe she put a galoot careening through the pages of some story or another, scratching himself. She's given me words of course but they're all in here still, mostly, inside me.

~~

You can tell that King read considerable, peoples reports upon coming back from a death experience, before writing Afterlife I mean. I wonder if it's personal interest or just a character in a story that he wanted to get right. One of the things that has always given me pause on this site is the total-complete-absolute closed-mind nunh-unh no-way never-gonna-happen it's-all-bullshit-Come!-On!-grow-the-fuck-up stance on what may happen at our death. The same reports, over recorded history, from all sorts of different cultures -- I have to say that ~for me~ the jury is still way, way out. I do love the peoples no-nonsense take on everything here, the dead-set science-only prove-it-or-buzz-off sort of thing -- I cannot tell you how much I've changed since encountering the people who live on this site, and write here. Razor-sharp minds here, blazing fast, too, and really well-trained, how to think, how not to. But on this particular question -- well, I have questions.

I've read about it all of my life, the whole NDE thing. And then *I* went on and died, and I'm sure all kinds of neat-o stuff happened, but I was dead so long without oxygen I don't remember a goddamn thing of the day it happened and nothing for a week or two after coming out of the coma, too, a few shadow memories of those first days but nothing much, really.

So I can't tell you anything, really, about being dead.

I *hope* that I got to see my ex-wife, and chatted her up, maybe got into her shorts again -- now *there's* a heaven I could get behind, I think I'll start praying hard as soon as I post this comment. I kinda hope that we had this great date, like this double-date, Kath and I and JFK with Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln with Joan of Arc and maybe Jesus H. Christ with Mary Magdalene, we'd go to this double-bill, SRV and Janis Joplin, each playing their own show and then about six or eight songs together -- wouldn't that just be the best? I sure think so. Heaven. Right here in Austin, too, plus no one outside Austin knows about it, so it wouldn't be some big horror show like SXSW, just a normal Austin-type thing.

~~

My dad -- about as sober a reporter as ever you'd find, a sincere, working-class Baptist-type Baptist guy -- got hit by a car in front of his house. BOOM!! and he's outta here, got hit by the side mirror and it spun him 'round and 'round, and he sees this orderly procession of souls leaving this plane, and there isn't a drop of fear anywhere to it, peaceful, and he's met by this being (he called him a guide, definitely not Jesus) and they were together and my father was eventually to a cross-road -- go this way and hey, game over, onto whatever is Next, or this way and back into Your Life (these are my caps of course) and my father was concerned for my sister, who was troubled and in trouble, and he voiced that and instantly ZAM opened his eyes, he's looking into the eyes of the EMT, heard my mother going on and on, told the EMT "Hey, look -- I'm fine, go over and comfort her." and that is the truth, too -- my dad was a trip.

He didn't say anything to me about that until years after, it just came out one night, playing dice games at his dining room table. I didn't press or show major interest -- though you can bet your sweet ass I was definitely interested -- because I didn't want to shut him up about it, what with him all being A Sincere Baptist and stuff. So I kept it sortof light, the story came out as the dice went around the table, my parents and my sister and myself playing Yahtzee and/or Western Round-Up ... Those were good years. I'm lucky to have had them, a peace with my family later in our lives, dice games around their table, some laughs.

~~

I *do* go on. I've got a big mouth. I liked King's story and the reading of it, found it interesting, and fun. Thanx for the post!
posted by dancestoblue at 1:32 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bit late too this post, been away from my computer for awhile. Great post, thanks for assembling this. I just got to say, I watched about 5 minutes and I don't know if I can make it. Like other folks said, that interviewer is an annoying ass.
posted by marxchivist at 7:17 AM on January 2, 2013


I have not come across all the miles and all the years to listen to your childish prating! Do you understand? Now you will listen to ME!"

--Stephen King via Roland, the last gunslinger, The Waste Lands

Thanks for the post. Roland tested, wordslinger approved.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:29 PM on January 7, 2013


Oh, and anyone know how one could figure out where King is speaking next?

Not that I'm in his neck of the woods necessarily but if he happened to be in mine and I missed him I doubt I would be able to forgive myself.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:12 PM on January 7, 2013


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