Monday, October 27, 2014

Being Stephen King

"First you forget names, then you forget faces.  Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down." - George Burns.

Aren't names something?  I went through an interview recently with a here-to-be-unnamed community college, and they had--no kidding--fifteen people in the room.  Only the first row of five were allowed to ask me questions through the web-based video conference, but it was still one heckuvan experience.  They didn't introduce themselves, which is fine.  I didn't get called in to the second round, but if I had, I doubt I could've remembered that many names.

I bet they all remembered my name, though.

There used to be a web site out there named "Being Stephen King dot com."  It was pretty boring, as sites went, but it had a thousand or so of us who'd entered our personal stories about what it was like being named the same as the famously successful horror writer.  It even had one entry from Bangor, Maine, that looked conspicuously like--nah, couldn't be.

It's gone now, in any event.

I used to get tired of being asked about my name, but that was before I met so many others with a very similar problem.  At West Point, in the Theatre Arts Guild (yes, we spelled it with that British thang going), I was proud to have been taught to "fly" (i.e., raise and lower the massive pipes that held all the screen backgrounds and the above-stage lights) by a tremendous mentor and great cadet named--wait for it--Tom Sawyer.  He, in turn, told me of a year or so earlier, when the Fourth Regiment had been announced at every parade to have been commanded by "Cadet Captain Buck Rogers."  And then, soon after I left the service, I helped a Republican named Michael Meyers run for Congress.

That was why I was so delighted to be interviewed recently for a Lifestyle piece on ABC News.  Check it out here:

For anyone curious, here were the awesome questions she asked (and my--well, of course they were awesome--I hope?--replies):

Do people often reference him and his books when they meet you? If so, on a scale of 1-10, how annoying is that?

Do people reference the books? Pretty much every day, every time I hand over my ID or credit card, or every time I give a presentation to a new class. If I'm in the mood to start a conversation, it's not annoying at all, but sometimes it's up there at a 9 or a 10, especially because it's nearly always the same thing: "Did you write those books?" or "Were you named after him?"

Once a month, ish, I get "friended" on Facebook by someone I've never met who then tells me how much they love my books.

Have you read any of his work, yourself? Hate ‘em? Love ‘em?

I love The Green Mile, and I also love his book On Writing. Otherwise, I'm not much into the horror genre.

How do you differentiate your own writing from his?

I write fantasy--mythic fantasy and elf fantasy. I also use my middle initial, which it turns out a) isn't enough of a differentiation for everyone, and b) isn't unique itself, as another author in Virginia has published two airplane history books under Stephen H. King. But I've had a couple of reviews saying, basically, "it's a good book, but he's not Stephen King," and that made me cringe a little.

Is Stephen a family name and is there anything else anecdotal you’d like to share about what your experience has been?

Technically I'm Stephen H. King, Jr. I dropped the Jr. out of expedience after my father died when I was 14. So yes, it is kind of a family name.

Hope you enjoyed!  Oh, and keep watching--I'm preparing a frightening short story to be published, right here, on Halloween!


PS--Oh, don't forget to check out the new cover design for Prophecy over to the right!


  1. I guess that's one advantage to meeting you online and interacting with you for years before learning your last name. It never really came up. :)