Stephen & Owen King visit Milwaukee

At first blush, it might seem like horror writers never get out–that we spend our lives hunched over a manual typewriter, tapping out nightmares barricaded in our homes like Dr. Muñoz from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air”, but we were out in force last night. Stephen King and his son, Owen, visited the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee as part of their tour to promote their collaborative novel, SLEEPING BEAUTIES. To the horror community, what better excuse is there to come out for a few hours and associate with the living?

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It was our Woodstock.

I attended the event with Rondo Award-winner Justin Hamelin, author of THICKER THAN BLOOD, and Stephen King enthusiast Will Reckling, who helped us navigate from the Illinois border to downtown Milwaukee, got our beers and nachos for us at Mo’s Irish Pub, and was the best darn Event Dad a kid could ask for. Also in attendance were fellow writers Dawn Napier (STAR PACK), C.A. Verstraete (LIZZY BORDEN, ZOMBIE HUNTER), W.D. Gagliani (WOLF’S BLIND), and David Benton, author of the upcoming novel, FAUNA (watch out for that one because it’s really good).

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Me, some guy in the background, and Justin Hamelin at Mo’s Irish Pub.

The stage was bare except for a couple of chairs and a small table between them when the Kings walked out and sat down to talk to each other and to us, “just folks”. After both Stephen and Owen made some brief and informal introductory remarks, they each read a short passage from their new book together, and then asked each other questions. New questions every night, they said. Owen joked that by the end of the book tour, he might ask his dad when he last cut his toenails.

Now I’m wondering what Stephen King’s toenails are like. Horror.

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Photo courtesy of Event Dad.

We weren’t supposed to record the event, and I wasn’t taking notes, so right now in the cold light of dawn I’m having trouble remembering everything they talked about, but at some point (and it might have been during the audience Q&A session), Stephen talked about what inspired him to write IT. He said he was living in Boulder at the time, and he was crossing a bridge wearing cowboy boots that knocked on the wooden planks. That reminded him of “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. Instead of a troll under a bridge, what if the monster lived in the sewers? He also apologized to clowns everywhere.

The evening ended with everyone getting a hardcopy of SLEEPING BEAUTIES, and 400 people even got copies flat signed by both authors. I didn’t get a signed one, but at least two people mentioned above did. Overall, not a bad way to end September.

Now bring on Halloween!

Christian A. Larsen is the author of the novels LOSING TOUCH and THE BLACKENING OF FLESHnow available from Post Mortem Press.
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