So, I went to Washington D.C. for three days with the express purpose of seeing Stephen King speak. I had the added pleasure of being able to meet up with Shannon at River City Reading for the event. I’m going to tell you of my trip in reverse order, because I know what the people really want (and that’s this post).
The event was a reading that was a part of a six city tour to promote his new book Revival. Before we get started with the main event I need you to know a little bit of my personal background with Stephen King. If you’ve been hanging around for any period of time, you probably already know this about me.
I picked up my first King book (Cujo) from my father’s stack of King novels when I was eleven. I remember being relegated to walking around the fences of the tennis courts during gym class because I had ‘accidentally’ forgotten my gym clothes (again).
Growing up walking home from school with The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course the ubiquitous Baby Sitter’s Club, and Fear Street novels made me quite proficient at walking and reading. So walking that rectangular fence, expertly avoiding the cracks in the asphalt I found something in Cujo that even to this day I can’t quite describe.
Before Cujo it never occurred to me that things like pubic hair could be spoken of outside a health textbook, that there could be such suspense, and as King often puts it himself ‘balls to the wall horror’ contained within a novel. That death and despair were possible and all you had to do was open the book to be completely transported somewhere terrifying. It should also be noted that in my opinion Cujo is not one of his better novels and weirdly, holds no special place in my heart.
For this reason alone I think that King and his writing are special to me and molded me as a reader, but something also struck me about him while watching a biography program. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen or so and what I remember best about the program is the idea that King conveyed that even if he wasn’t being paid a cent for his writing — he’d still be doing it, solely for the passion that he has for the craft. His love of reading and writing made a lasting impression on me and he is someone I very much admire for that passion.
Okay, let’s get to the goods, you’re thinking. So! The (sold out) event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium which has a capacity of 1,409. Shannon had to work that morning and I was just grateful she was willing to brave the D.C. traffic. So I killed the morning visiting The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress (details coming in future posts). After some slight snafu’s regarding meeting locations Shannon and I finally met up at the National Museum of American History where Shannon had just concluded saying hello to the First Ladies dresses.
Obligatory proof of
life meeting picture.
So while employees of the Lisner Auditorium told me that people had been lining up since at least one p.m., Shannon and I chose to enjoy dinner and we made it to the venue at about 6:30, it turned out very nicely, while we weren’t overly close, that was probably for the best as that way Shannon was not forced to restrain me while I attempted to throw myself on the stage like a madwoman.
I’m still rambling, aren’t I? Well, when the King made his way on to the stage Shannon did have to deal with a mild amount of squeeing and she may have handed me the smelling salts at some point but once the event got going it was everything I wanted it to be, and more. King was charming, funny, down to earth and… a terrible dresser. Pictures in a moment.
I was really impressed how he segued from the first line of a bad two line joke, (“Two jumper cables walk into a bar…”) into the craft of writing, his own writing process, and everything else in-between. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a formidable public speaker, but he’s definitely engaging. The audience was slightly insane and clapped every time he mentioned the title of one of his books (even Gerald’s Game, I mean seriously?) but he took it in stride and never came off as arrogant or irritating (or irritated, for that matter). I was also delighted to find out that he’s friends with John Irving (my top three authors, Stephen King, John Irving, Margaret Atwood).
There wasn’t supposed to be photography allowed but the girl two seats down from me had a full on DSLR camera and if she had taken one more picture with a flash in the darkened auditorium, I was going to shank her. In hindsight, I should have given her my card and asked her to email me her photos. By the time Q&A came up and the floor lights came up I decided to damn the rules and eke out two fuzzy little shots. Here’s what I got for my effort and breaking of the rules.
Oh, the end of the joke is: Two jumper cables walk into a bar and say, “Can we get a drink?” the bartender says, “Yeah, just don’t start anything.” <rimshot>.
Overall great time meeting and hanging out with Shannon at such a phenomenal event. Totally worth the price of tickets, especially considering we each got a hardback copy of Revival (though sadly, we were not among the lucky few who randomly got signed copies).
So, Reader, do you have any authors that you’d travel 1200+ miles round trip over the course of three days to see? I flew, no worries. Though the pilot on my trip back to Atlanta might have been wearing heels during the landing.