A little over four years ago you granted me an interview about how it is to be Stephen King’s assistant. Is doing interviews something you do a lot?
Marsha DeFilippo: No, I don’t often do personal interviews.
Lilja: I know from mails I get and from reading Stephen King’s official message board that people are quite interested in you as a person as well. How do you feel about the fact that people take an interest in you as a person and not just as Stephen King’s assistant? Do you like it or is it something you’d rather be without?
Marsha DeFilippo: It still surprises me. I do try to interact through the Message Board as much as possible as I feel that it’s important to maintain a sense of community on the Board and I enjoy being a part of that. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting a number of fans in person over the years.
Lilja: We covered a typical (if there is such a thing) day for you at work in the earlier interview so I won’t ask you to repeat that now but I do want to ask you if your work assignments has changed during the last years?
Marsha DeFilippo: For the most part things have not changed in the daily routine but for the past year, we (the web site team of Brian Stark, Jordan Hahn, Judy Hahn, and myself) have been working on a complete redesign of Stephen’s web site. This has been a massive project, in large part due to the sheer volume of information that we are trying to incorporate into the site as well as to make it a more user-friendly site in terms of how the material is organized. The Dark Tower portion of the site has been launched and we hope to have the core site ready to launch soon although there will be other interactive components added later.
Lilja: I can imagine that since most people now have Internet access the official website and emails take up more and more of your time?
Marsha DeFilippo: Yes, there has been a noticeable shift from physical mail to messages received through Stephen’s Message Board. The latest version of the Message Board has only been active since the end of December 2007 and has already had over 78,600 posts.
Lilja: Has it [the Internet] made your day easier or has it given you more work even?
Marsha DeFilippo: It’s a bit of both. I have more work to do as Ms. Mod but the internet has made my job easier in terms of how I communicate with others when performing my personal assistant duties and more importantly, how I communicate with Steve as he is in Bangor much less than he was when I first began working for him.
Lilja: Is it frustrating that there are so many fan sites out there that are able to (and probably do) publish any news without checking first if it’s true or not? I guess it’s you that gets all the questions if someone publishes that Stephen will do this or do that, right?
Marsha DeFilippo: Yes, honestly it is frustrating even when it is news that’s true. I understand that it’s become part of the age we live in that people have come to expect to have the news as soon as it’s available and if it’s not on Stephen’s site, they wonder why not. There are often legitimate reasons for why we haven’t posted it even though it’s on a site somewhere on the internet. Because it is Stephen’s official site, we feel we have even more responsibility to only report news when it has been authorized by all the appropriate parties. There have been occasions when information has been leaked that wasn’t signed off on by everyone and that then makes my job harder because I have to do “damage control” either to ask the other site to remove it and/or explain it on Stephen’s site.
Lilja: Also since the last interview The Dark Tower has been finished. I imagine that has eliminated quite a few questions? Do you miss them?
Marsha DeFilippo: It’s eliminated some questions but has started a round of new ones, mostly to do with movie plans. The Marvel Comic series have also kept the interest alive.
Lilja: Speaking about the Internet, do you spend a lot of time acting watchdog online? I know that there have been people using Stephen King’s name on both Facebook and Myspace.
Marsha DeFilippo: I honestly don’t have the time to play watchdog-it could be a full-time job doing just that.
Lilja: How do you handle things like that? Do you actively look for these things or do you act upon tips from fans? What do you do when you find someone using Stephen’s name on in some other way violate his rights?
Marsha DeFilippo: When I get tips from fans, I do my best to follow up and if it involves a copyright issue, I turn it over to either the appropriate publisher or Stephen’s attorneys to follow up.
Lilja: How do you handle mails and letters from fans? Do you read them and then forward them to Stephen if you think it’s something he needs to see? And if not, do you answer everything?
Marsha DeFilippo: I don’t do much of the physical mail anymore as the Message Board and the other duties I perform for Steve keep me too busy. There are two others in the office who read/answer the physical mail. If it’s a question they can’t answer or a particularly nice letter, they do try to make sure he sees it.
Lilja: What are the most asked questions people ask you now that The Dark Tower has been completed? Here is your chance to get some of them down on paper (so to speak) and maybe stop one or two letters from coming in…
Marsha DeFilippo: We have people wanting to know where they can submit their version of the writing exercise given in On Writing even though we do have this covered in the FAQ that we are no longer accepting submissions. Fans still want to know when The Plant will be finished. Again, this is answered in the FAQ. Actually, most of the questions that are asked regularly are answered there.
Lilja: Here are the top five most common questions I get sent to me. Maybe you can address them all and get that out of the way?
Lilja: As you probably know better then anyone, we Stephen King fans are always hungry for news about Stephen’s work. Can you give us some insight to what we can expect to see in the future?
Marsha DeFilippo: We have listed projects in the Future Works section of the site which include the short story collection coming out in November and Steve is working on Under the Dome which will be comparable to IT and The Stand in length. No publication date has been set for that yet as it’s too early in the first draft stage. Once finished with that, Steve plans to return to his musical project with John Mellencamp, It had been scheduled to open in Atlanta, GA, in April of 2009 but has been put off so that Steve could work on Under the Dome. There are several other projects, but I’m not at liberty to say more about them yet.
Lilja: OK, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. I really appreciated it and I know my readers will as well. Thanks!
Here are some links refered to in the interview:
Previous interview with Marsha
Stephen King's official site
The official FAQ