The day starts early as I’m jetlagged and wakes up at 3AM. I make the most of the time I have in New York though so after a shower and breakfast I head down to the studio where they are filming Good Morning American. Since I only found out that Stephen and Owen would be guests on the show the day before all the tickets are gone. I’m not too bummed out about that though since their segment will only be a couple of minutes and the rest of the 2 hour show isn’t that interesting to be honest. I find it more fun to stand outside with a lot of other fans and professional photographers watching the stars come and go. This particular day Harrison Ford and Kate Winslet are also guests and a lot of their fans are also present.
The evening’s event (and the reason I’m here) starts at 7PM but people are starting to line up hours in advance outside St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity Church. The church didn’t have assigned seating so it's first come first served. So, if you want front row seats you need to be there early. And normally I would have been there really early but not this time. Why? Well, I had the good fortune to be granted a visit backstage to say "Hi" to Stephen and Owen. And what is a front row seat compared to that? Right, nothing.
So I arrive around 6:15 and 6:30 I'm let in through the side door of this old church to meet Stephen King. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous but once I shake his hand that all falls away. He is such a nice man, asking me how I like New York and if I'm jetlagged. We chat a bit and then I ask if he would sign my copy of Sleeping Beauties that I brought (the ones included in the event weren’t being distributed until after the event). He didn't mind and dedicated it to me and then said "I'll get Owen to sign it as well". And Owen didn't just sign it, he actually drew a moth in the book, how cool is that?
Photo left: Marsha DeFilippo, Photo right: Stephen King
While Owen is doing this I noticed another familiar face. Peter Straub who with Stephen wrote The Talisman and Black House is sitting right beside Owen. And I can't resist introducing myself (Peter and I have spoken through emails earlier) and shake his hand. Then Stephen King takes a photo of me and Peter Straub. How cool is that? And after that he also takes a photo of me and Owen (I really put Stephen to work). After that it's time for the Kings to get ready for the reading and me to move into the church.
Photo: Stephen King
When I arrive the seats in the front half of the church are all taken but I noticed a lot of people are sitting up on the balcony so I go up there and manage to find a seat in the front row, just to the left of some electrical equipment (part of the sound system I think) but who cares. The seat is perfect and I have a great view over where Stephen and Owen sit.
The event is introduced by Emma Straub (who also introduced her father, the audience cheered) and then the Kings enter the stage a few minutes after 7. The simplicity of the stage is very promising. It's just the Kings in two chairs and two large posters of the book cover. What's about to happen is all going to have to be done by Stephen and Owen. And they deliver, man do they deliver.
Each of them read a part from the book, Owen about the fox and Stephen about a meeting the men have at a bar. And while they read it struck me how good they are at reading out loud. Not everyone pulls that of but both Stephen and Owen could have a career narrating books if they ever get tired of writing them.
They have each prepared a few questions for each other without the other one knowing the questions beforehand. This generates an interesting and spontaneous discussion between the two of them. The questions include "What was it like to collaborate on the book?", Owen tells how he used to freeze his GI Joes and how they together created a GI Joe. Stephen asked Owen to tell us what child labor he was forced to do as a kid and Owen told us how he recorded books for his father when he was young. Owen then asked Stephen how he manages to keep all his characters different from each other and not repeating them.
The event ended with pre sent in questions from the audience. Do they still doubt themselves even though they are now successful? Did they ask their wives for input on the female characters in Sleeping Beauties (King told a great story about his mother in law) and who they think would be best to play Stephen in a movie about him. Owen said Bill Hader from SNL.
With that the event was over. The Kings left the stage and the rest of us (pretty warm and sweaty since the church was hotter than a sauna) started queuing for our book. You gave the person giving out books the wristband you got when you entered the church and in return you got a book. Once outside you could hear spontaneous cheers when someone opened their book and found two signatures inside. I opened mine and was happy to see that I had gotten a signed copy of the book.
Later that night as I was in a cab on my way back to my hotel I tried to summarize the evening in my head but it was hard to grasp everything that had happened. Had I really shook Stephen, Owen and Peter's hands? And gotten my photo taken with them (most of the photos taken by Stephen himself)? Yes I had. All I had to do was pick up my phone and the photos were there. And the books, one personalized by Stephen and Owen and the other one signed by them. It was true, it had happened and it had been a truly great evening.
Photo: Stephen King
Another thing that was really great about the evening was that I got to shake Marsha DeFilippo's hand. She is Stephen's assistant that has endured me for over 20 years. She has supported me and helped me more than I can even describe in words. This evening I got the shake her hand and say thanks. That meant a lot to me! Thanks again Marsha!
I also want to thank everyone who supported the Crowdfunding that made this possible. I couldn’t have done it without your help and support! I know who you are and you know who you are! Thanks!