Stephen King and Owen King discuss “Sleeping Beauties” on the Brooklyn Occasion
You may have heard of it Stephen King. I think he sold a book or two … or 350 million. The world famous author and his son, co-author Owen King, grabbed St. Ann’s & Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, NY on Tuesday, September 26th, as part of an event by Books are magic, a bookstore in Cobble Hill. We got there for the 8:00 p.m. 4:30 p.m. event and the line was already wrapped around the block. I asked the group sitting in the front in folding chairs when they got there and they casually replied at 9:30 a.m. Presented by Emma StraubAs the owner of the bookstore and daughter of King employee Peter Straub, the Kings entered the stage with loud applause. The two were there to present their latest project, the 700-page novel Sleeping beautiesas well as take part in a self-guided Q&A.
Sleeping Beauties is King’s 57th novel, but the concept here comes from Owen, the youngest of three children to Stephen and Mrs. Tabitha, also a writer. Owen’s first full-length novel, Double Feature, premiered in 2013. Sleeping Beauties is, as the title suggests, about a plague of sleep that afflicts the female population. When the applause finally subsided, the authors took turns reading passages from the novel. A couple of brief observations I made were how really happy the audience was to sit in a non-air-conditioned church on a weekday and listen to these men read. My father had a dizzying look on his face. My dad has been a regular reader of King since the 1970s and has essentially grown with King by over 40. I am 35 years old and have known King for single digits. I ran from Pennywise in 1990 and read Eye of the Dragon and Cycle of the Werewolf when I was just leaving elementary school.
Father and son then exchanged questions for over 30 minutes and discussed the history of Sleeping Beauties, their collaboration process and Owen’s childhood. Stephen shared stories about the portrayal of the female characters in the novel about the strong and tough women he had known all his life, including some particularly funny stories about his mother-in-law, Hattie. Big cheers came when they revealed that Stephen had called the folks at GI Joe to do a certain character Owen had come up with.
In the end, they asked a few selected questions from the audience. Owen was asked if he would like to work with Brother Joe [Hill] and he said he definitely would [again], as they have already worked on several scripts. They were asked if there was any nerve in their writing and Stephen laughed and admitted he was turned down by The New Yorker for stories they wrote after 9/11, and my favorite line was King, the one with a fan discussed a run-in not so long ago:
Fan: You are Stephen King, right?
Stephen King: Yes.
Fan: You wrote The Stand, excellent guy! You wrote The Shining, I love this book, it scared the hell out of me. “… so are you writing something new?
Everyone who arrived early enough received copies of the book, several hundred were signed copies. All in all, this was a check mark on the bucket list. There are few people in the world of entertainment who have played a greater role in shaping it than Stephen King over the past 40+ years. Best of all, he felt like the most down to earth person you could meet. This year alone, a new version of It hit the silver screen and broke the box office records, and Gerald’s game just hit Netflix to garner critical acclaim. The hour flew by and you forget that you were surrounded by strangers and instead felt very direct and intimate.
Sleeping Beauties is now on sale. Books Are Magic is located at 225 Smith Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Check their website for any future events.
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