Sleeping Beauties, a first-time collaboration between the iconic master of horror Stephen King and his son Owen hit bookshelves yesterday. The father and son team are currently on a 10 city promotional tour of what will surely be another bestseller for Mr. King. I was fortunate to obtain a pair of the highly sought after tickets for their second stop at the Saint Ann and Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, NY. Eager fans lined up hours before doors opened so that they might obtain the perfect pew position to see their literary hero speak in person. While all fans were excited about the newest release Sleeping Beauties, the topic of the day was definitely It. Pennywise t-shirts were seen in abundance and everyone seemed to agree that the blockbuster hit exceeded their expectations!
Stephen King lovingly refers to his fans as his ‘constant readers’ and we, as fans, take the term to heart. While awaiting entry into the church, many animated conversations took place. “What is your favorite Stephen King Book? What is your favorite Stephen King movie? Which book would you like to see turned into a movie?” All these questions were a great way to pass the time with fellow fans. And, there were no wrong answers.
It was fun finding myself amongst people that have as much passion for the highly acclaimed Mr. King as I do. While I thoroughly enjoyed some delightful conversations, excitement grew when it came time to finally open the doors. After receiving a bracelet to be later exchanged for a free copy of Sleeping Beauties, fans then stepped into the stunning cathedral. After stopping to take some photos, I quickly secured my seat in one of the pews. It did not take long before the church was filled to capacity. As I looked around, I still could not understand why this leg of the tour was being held in a church; then I got my answer. The event was hosted by bookstore owner Emma Straub, daughter of famed novelist Peter Staub who has collaborated with Stephen King in the past (The Talisman, Black House). Both families have been friends for years and Emma has known the King’s her entire life; she graduated in the very church that held the event. As an added bonus, Peter Straub himself was also in attendance in support of Stephen and Owen.
After the introduction, the two authors made their entrance to a lively standing ovation. Stephen and Owen exchanged a few words about working out the kinks of their tour but indicated they were having a great time figuring it out. It was then that each took turns reading excerpts from Sleeping Beauties. I found myself mesmerized as I listened to them vocalize the tale. The passages were well received by all in attendance which leads to a belief that this book is due for great success.
Knowing there was a limited amount of time, Stephen and Owen had already prepared questions to ask one another. Oddly enough, the first question Owen had for his dad was the same as Stephen had for his son… “How did the collaboration for Sleeping Beauties begin?” Turns out, it was Owen’s idea… What if all the woman fell asleep? Owen actually said it was the first time he ever submitted an idea to his dad. Stephen loved it immediately and encouraged his son to do the writing because he did not want to take it from him. Owen, in turn, thought it was something suited for his dad so he pressed Stephen to write it. The compromise was a collaboration. They took turns writing with the goal of having no readers being able to determine what parts were written by which author. I have not yet read the book, but I look forward to testing my abilities in deciphering writing differences.
As the evening progressed, Stephen and Owen exchanged amusing tales of growing up in the King household. We learned that Owen’s main chore as a child was not a typical task but still one he thoroughly enjoyed… recording books on tape for his father. Owen was quick to say that he did also take out the trash. The two then spoke about a shared love of G.I. Joe figures and the fact that Stephen did not read Owen horror tales or the obituaries at night. The King family is simply passionate about reading in general. Stephen said his own mom let him read anything she felt was age appropriate. And it was after she read him a creepy passage from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that young Stephen knew he had found his vocation.
Another interesting tidbit was Owen indicating that he has not read all of his dad’s works and that his favorite writer is his wife. I found his honesty quite endearing. Rest assured though, Owen has much respect for Stephen’s works and even praised him for having the ability to develop so many unique characters. It really is impressive how Mr. King keeps his seemingly endless number of characters so vastly different from one another. Stephen seemed genuinely honored by his son’s admiration; he clearly loves his family, his life, and his fans.
It was an absolute pleasure to see father and son display humbleness and gratitude for all their success. Even Stephen King faces self-doubt and rejection. I am just happy that he continues to write and hopefully will continue many years to come. For now, go grab your copy of Sleeping Beauties!