Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Alexandria Publishing Group

Have you been over to the Alexandria Publishing Group's web site lately?  You really ought to go.  If you like my writing, you'll love what you find over there, I promise--several authors, all personally invited to join a selective group, and all who write as well as or better than I do.

We're always looking for better, more creative, more fun ways to make others aware of all of us, too.  One of our members, Paul Kater, author of the fun Hilda the Wicked Witch series, came up with a series of questions for us all to answer.  Frankly, I can't wait to read everybody's answer, and I probably won't have to wait long or look far for them as he's promised to publish the series on the APG blog.

Here's mine, just for example:

Paul: Stephen, how does it feel to have a famous alter ego?

Stephen: Give me a few more years and you’ll be asking the other Stephen Kings out there how it feels to have two famous alter egos.

To be honest, though, it’s a much more common name than a lot of people realize.  My first day in high school I was accosted by an upper classman who demanded to see my ID—he was Stephen King, and there was no way there could be two of us.  Then, during my first summer at West Point, I received a package of goodies on my desk from “Love, Mom” in Iowa, full of my favorite cookies and popcorn variety, only they weren’t my favorite cookies, and I didn’t have a favorite popcorn variety, and my mom didn’t live in Iowa.  It turned out that the floor above me housed an upper-class Steve King, an unfortunate fact that frightened the plebe who’d mistakenly opened his “boodle box” greatly. 

Years later I discovered a web site named “BeingStephenKing.com” where all of these guys named Stephen King—and there were hundreds—posted comments about having a famous alter ego.  The site has since gone away, but I’ll never forget the sensation of reading through the entries. 

A few years ago, while living in the small town of Wasilla, Alaska, my dentist gave me the cheerful news that I needed a root canal.  “You’ve never had one…” he started, and I objected; I’d experienced two, actually.  He looked back at the chart that illustrated a nearly perfect set of teeth and said, “Oh, you’re not sixteen years old, are you?”  Turns out there was a teenage Stephen King who also lived in town. 

I think it likely that all of us have shared the same annoyance at the false recognition our name brings, too.  Nearly every day of my adult life I’ve been asked what it’s like to be asked nearly every day of my adult life what it’s like to be named the same as the guy who wrote Cujo.  “Were you named after him?” is another common question, and no—first, he didn’t get his break as an author till I had been around for several years, and second, I was named after my father.  “Was he named after him?” I’m also asked.  Gah.

Now that I’m writing, though, I’ll admit that it does give me a little bit of built-in discovery.  People grin at the moniker of “The Other Stephen King.”  It has its occasional negative side too, of course, as my books have received a few middle-quality reviews that related the opinion “good book, but the author isn’t the real Stephen King.”

To combat that, I’ve used my middle initial—any true Stephen King fan, after all, knows that his middle initial is E, while mine is H.  Thus, search for Stephen H. King, and there I am, perched all by my loneso—er, wait.  No, I’m not the first Stephen H. King who’s written a book, either; an aviation historian by that name has published a couple of books on some of the lesser-known (to me, anyway) pioneers of that industry. 

So much for originality, eh?


1 comment:

  1. The problem with my name is that no one can spell it. Most people leave out the 'h' in Esther. But you probably get "Steven" from lazy spellers, too.

    I've met several Esther Joneses, but never another Esther Spurrill, and definitely no one named Esther Spurrill Jones. I guess I'm truly an original. :)