Just about everyone that knows me knows how obsessed with Stephen King I am. It’s not just that I enjoy his work but I obsess over it. It probably came from the 4th Dark Tower book where we find out that everything he’s ever written is connected some how.
My mom was a big King fan back in the day. She had a bookcase full of King books. I’d pull them out and look at the covers. I knew I’d always be too scared to read them, but they sat there and I’d stare at them.
It finally happened when I was 10. The IT miniseries was on TV and even though it looked scary I still watched it. I’m sure my parents regret that. I couldn’t sleep without nightmares for awhile. Then suddenly the urge came over me. I had to read IT. I needed to know more about this evil clown. How I convinced anyone to let me buy a copy of IT I’ll never know but they let me.
I read it within 6 months. I know but it’s over a thousand pages and I was 11. Give me some slack. From that point on I pretty much devoured every King book I could get my hands on. My mom seemed encouraged by my interest and even let me borrow books from her collection. Now the very books I used to get scared just looking at just the covers I was reading one after the other.
I give King credit for a lot of things with me. I feel there is a point in every person’s life where they make the decision “do I keep reading for fun or do I just read because I have to for school and I move on to other things for fun?” He kept me reading. I would keep up to date on his current books. Getting them for Christmas and Birthday presents from family members. I read other authors as well but nothing could bring me to a screaming halt like King.
Then I discovered within this collection of books The Dark Tower. I had avoided it because I’m not really into fantasy novels. But decided to give the first one a shot. I enjoyed it enough I wanted to see where it would go so I got the second book. Then the third. After that the 4th book would change everything.
I was used to seeing references to other King works in his books. Castle Rock of course was a big nexus point but things like The Stand and some of his other short stories like The Mist (yes more a novella), The Jaunt, The Long Walk, etc. took place in worlds that there was no way could be in the same reality as Castle Rock.
In the 4th Dark Tower book a character whom I thought was a stand alone character told another character that he was trying to win over to his side “I once had a man that would pledge ‘My Life For You!'” Everything changed. Suddenly this quest for the Dark Tower now had resonance across every word King had every put to paper. It all mattered.
I continued on the journey to the tower and was sad to say goodbye to the friends I had made in that world but never stopped making friends with his new characters. Some books are better than others as that is with any story. I never quit. King has kept me reading and dreaming. Most importantly King has kept me writing.
I had dreams of being a big novelist. I also had dreams of being a big filmmakers. Age has let me look at the realities of this world and I let myself be content to just write and make movies because I want to with no goal of hitting it big. I’d actually like to avoid that if possible. I just want to enjoy doing it.
This Friday I finally close a circle as I’ll be heading up to the Chicago area to see King and his son Owen talk about their new book Sleeping Beauties. I’ve been holding out going to one of these because I always hoped there would be a chance to meet him at a signing so I could extend my hand and say “Thank you for everything you’ve given me.” It doesn’t look like he does many straight up signings anymore so this may be the only chance I’ll have to at least be in an event with him. I’m going to take it and enjoy every minute I can of him and his son sitting on stage telling stories and talking about weaving stories together. There are worse ways to spend a Friday.