After a classy introduction by Canadian broadcaster George Stroumboulopoulos, King took the stage to a standing ovation. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. This immediately confirmed how down to earth the man is. Sure, the pre-appearance slide show of his book covers that inspired applause for a good five minutes may have irked some, (I'm not convinced it was King himself who was behind that, but Simon & Schuster as the King novels not on their roster were absent from the slide show) and clearly King loved the hoots & hollers that went up every time one of his books came up in conversation, but I'd be proud too if my works were so ingrained in the public consciousness. And that's not to say he couldn't be self-effacing. He was quick to point out how nervous he was speaking to this many people, and even added the famous quote, “by the time I'd realized I was no good at this, I was too rich to quit.”
King then read from his new book, Under The Dome, in that distinctive accent and tone of his. He was nervous about that as well because just before taking the stage, he'd dropped his pages and wasn't sure if they were still in order. Under The Dome has a brilliant setup and is, as King put it, a microcosm of the current state of affairs in the U.S. I'm expecting good things, as these types of stories – like The Mist, the Boulder/Vegas sections of The Stand & The Langoliers – have always been among his best I think. After the reading from Dome, David Cronenberg came on out.
It was quite surreal to see these two engage in conversation, as they are really quite different. Cronenberg is an staunch intellectual and King is a totally laid back meat & potatoes kind of guy. It was a joy to watch. They spoke about many things, including his writing process, how screenplays are different from straight fiction, the subconscious, philosophy and even politics. It's quite clear that King is terrified that Sarah Palin might one day make it to the White House, to which Cronenberg said,
“Well, you should be, you after all did invent George W. Bush, with Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone. That's all your fault, he wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for you.”
Probably the big news of the night was that King has been toying with the idea of writing a sequel to The Shining, which would involve a now-fourty-year-old Danny Torrance working as an orderly in a hospice. He's obviously traumatized by his experience at The Overlook and lives day-to-day, supplementing his income by 'winning' on the horses. Danny also sits with elderly patients that are about to die - much like a certain cat that King read about - so the staff begin refering to him as Doctor Sleep.
“That's all I've got so far,” King said. “I figure if I keep talking about it, I'll eventually just have to do it.” Cronenberg quickly replied, “Well, it'll be on the Internet now, so yes that's true.”
Other little tidbits were Cronenberg asking about why he'd never sat in the director's chair after Maximum Overdrive. King said,
“well, because the first time was so Goddamn awful.”
King also talked about the first time he spoke with Stanley Kubrick. He was in the bathroom shaving, when his wife came in and told him that the legendary director was on the telephone. He then promptly cut himself. King answered the phone and said 'hello', to which he was greeted with,
“I think the idea of an afterlife is a little optimistic, don't you?”
King's Kubrick impersonation was bang-on! These are just some of the great stories that were bandied about and was precisely the reason the seventy-or-so minutes flew by like a shot. I can tell you that everyone in attendance would have been captive for many an hour. It was a fascinating night and I was just glad I was able to be a part of it. My only regret is I wasn't quick enough to snap off any pictures of the occasion.