The One With Stephen King

If you follow or read my blog on a regular basis, you probably already know what I’m going to tell you.

But, if you don’t happen to be my friend on Facebook, I have the opportunity to freak out all over again.

Something awesome (in the truest sense on the word) happened to me today.

I’m still struggling with it. I feel like it didn’t really happen. I feel numb.

It’s going to be weird to be able to wake up tomorrow and say, “Yeah, that happened.” It’s a fact of my life now. I can actually say that I’ve done this.

Sorry. I’ll get to the point.

This morning, Austin came over to have breakfast with me. About halfway through the meal, he decided that he was too sick to go to school. So, instead of letting him take the car and go to Washtenaw, I dropped him off at home and took the car for the day. (For those of you who don’t know, we share a car. Probably should have explained that sooner.)

I would never wish sickness on anyone. But I want to publicly thank my boyfriend for being sick.

Thank you.

Because, if Austin hadn’t been sick today, none of this ever would have happened.

Why? Because, if Austin hadn’t been sick today, I wouldn’t have been in the car after dropping him off, flipping through radio stations in an attempt to find anything other than Hotline Bling.

When I hit 91.1, I heard something that captured my interest.

“I started writing when I was six or seven, because my mother would pay me a quarter per story. And I learned how to market, even back then, because I knew what my mother liked.”

I paused. I didn’t change the channel. I just started to think.

Wow. I should totally do that with my kids.

Why is there a writer on the radio, anyway?

What’s his name?

His voice is kinda high pitched. Do I know him?

Na, this is a Michigan station. Probably not.

Wait a minute, did the interviewer just say he was a horror writer?

Did he just call his corgi “The Thing of Evil”?

STEPHEN KING CALLS HIS CORGI “THE THING OF  EVIL”.

OH MY GOD, STEPHEN KING IS ON THE RADIO.

I was hooked. I listened intently the entire way home. When I pulled into the driveway, I considered turning off the car and going inside. I had chores to do before my family and I left for our annual Christmas shopping day at Bronner’s.

But I decided to stay and listen, just for a few more minutes.

And then, it happened.

The host of the show announced that they were going to take phone calls and questions. She gave the number of the station. And then she took the first call.

It crossed my mind to not bother calling. I mean, what were my chances of getting an answer? It was a national broadcast. People all over America were calling in, and they were only going to be able to take a few questions.

But Stephen King is, and has always been, my writing idol. If I hadn’t bothered trying, I would have regretted it.

Without a single question in mind, I dialed the number.

I must have called twenty times. I got nothing but a busy signal. I listened to him answer another question from another caller. I was losing hope.

I turned off the car as they went to a commercial break.

I decided to give it one more try.

I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. I’ll be the first to admit that I totally and irrationally believe that fate completely took over my morning.

The phone started to ring.

And then, fifteen rings later, someone answered.

“Thank you for calling 91.1, can I get your name?”

“C-Cassie,” I stammered.

“And where are you calling from, Kathy?”

(Yes, they got my name wrong. I didn’t bother correcting it.)

“Michigan.”

“Can I get a city?”

“Oh. Um, Howell.”

“H-O-W-E-L-L?” She spelled.

“Yes,” I breathed.

“And what is your question or comment?”

Oh god. I didn’t think I’d get this far.

“I’d like to ask Stephen King how he thinks his writing has changed over the course of his career.”

It just came out. I could think of a hundred better questions, now that I have the time. But I froze. I’m honestly just happy that his favorite manuscript (or, god forbid, his favorite color) didn’t come out of my mouth.

“Okay, Cassie. I’m going to put you on hold now.”

And then she was gone.

I was sitting in the car, my heart beating a million miles a minute, completely unsure if I was about to be on the radio with Stephen King or not.

What I did next was probably not the smartest thing. I don’t fan-girl, alright? I usually stay calm around celebrities. I was a boss about that in Manhattan. But I’m a writer. A horror writer. This was Stephen King. The reason I started writing horror in the first place.

Something in me snapped.

I took the keys out of the ignition and dropped them in the passenger seat. I left my phone, my keys, my purse, my wallet, and $200 sitting in the hot car.

I booked it into the house. I tore up the stairs and nearly fell when I reached the landing. I panted to my brother that I was going to be on the radio with Stephen King. He just stared at me for a second. Then he asked me what station.

I feel bad now. I was terrified to talk. I had to bite my lip from screaming. My heart was racing, my head was pounding. And I had no idea how I was going to ask my question.

All Jack wanted was the station, and I couldn’t give it to him. I was too frazzled.

I waited for about fifteen minutes after that, listening to the show through the phone. They took an email question. It was a very long answer. And then, finally, they got to me.

“And we’re going to Kathy from Howell, Michigan.”

Not my name, but I don’t even care. Oh my god oh my god oh my god.

“Hi, there! I’m nineteen and I’m a huge fan. My best friend and I have been reading your work since we were probably ten or eleven. I wanted to ask you how you think your writing has changed, from Carrie until your most recent work.”

I waited with baited breath. What if he thought my question was stupid?

“That’s a good question.”

I died. I literally, actually died.

And then, he started to answer my question.

Unfortunately, ten seconds into the answer, my phone hung up. Because, obviously, they assumed that I was listening on the radio in the car. Which I wasn’t. So I had to tear back down the stairs and shove my way back into the car to listen.

He said that a writer is never fully grown. That they are constantly learning and evolving. He said that the only thing he worries about is “phoning it in”, and using the same character and story types multiple times instead of growing and creating new concepts.

Of course, it took him much longer than a paragraph. But I was far too excited to memorize it all. I took it to heart. I mean, he’s the closest thing to an idol that I have. I have way too much respect for him to ignore his advice. I just wish I’d had time to write it all down.

(Update: There is a transcript of the interview available online.)

I called Dawn, screaming.

I called my mother, screaming.

I sent my sick boyfriend a text that said, “I love you I love you I love you. Thank you for existing.”

And then, somehow, I continued with my day. My world didn’t stop.

It’s amazing how many extraordinary things can happen on such a seemingly normal day.

Thanks, fate. I’m glad we can be friends.

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