When I’m asked which writers have influenced me the most, I always tick off names from a very exclusive list: Robert B. Parker, Dean Koontz, Stephen King. And of those three, I think I’ve spent the most time reading Stephen King. As a teenager, I devoured his stuff, eagerly looking forward to his next book even as I turned the pages of his current one. Whenever I began one of his stories, I knew I’d be taking a suspenseful—and extended—journey (he wrote some very long books!).
A short, fictional, homage:
They say you can’t go home again, but I thought I’d try. Although those were misery-filled days—plagued by insomnia—I did my best to keep the desperation at bay and my rage in check. Thankfully, those were different seasons back then. Would I feel the same way now that I’d returned to the town where I’d been raised?
Just after sunset, I decided on a stroll to see how things had changed. Main Street seemed like it always had: the shining glazed doughnuts under the dome in the coffee shop window, the dead zone where my cell never worked.
I continued the long walk toward the quarry—the green mile, as it were—past the skeleton crew night shift assigned to the roadwork, past the shack where Dolores Claiborne’s two daughters, Christine and Carrie still lived, to a spot across the street where the black house used to loom, with its dark tower and secret windows overlooking the stand of gnarled cypress trees. Of course, that was before the storm of the century blew through here turning the old house into a bag of bones and giving the regulators something to argue about when old Rose Madder applied for a rebuilding permit.
I sat at the edge of the quarry and stared into space, thinking about the time gone by. I must have dozed off, because later, at four past midnight, I gazed into the night sky again, and the black void was absolute: full dark, no stars. Only nightmares and dreamscapes to keep me company.
(For extra credit: How many Stephen King titles can you pick out in the above story?)
So why blog about Stephen King now? Well, I’m excited to say he’s coming to town (at least my town) to speak at the Fall for the Book festival. This terrific week-long book event is held in Fairfax, VA, every fall, and it draws a ton of great writers and fans. This year, Stephen King is one of the headliners (he’s being presented with the Mason Award), and I’ve got tickets to hear him speak on Friday, September 23 at 7:30.
But that’s only half of why I’m excited.
Here’s the other half: I get to be on a panel “opening” for Stephen King!
The Stephen King event is co-sponsored by MWA (he is a Grand Master, after all), and they’ve arranged to have a mystery writers panel (with Donna Andrews, our very own G.M. Malliet, Marcia Talley, and me) that will precede his speech, in an adjacent auditorium (our panel begins at 5:30). No tickets are required for our event, so if you’re in the area, come on by! (If you don’t have tickets for the King speech, there will be a drawing for ten tickets during our panel. So if you feel lucky…)
And there’s one other Stephen King “connection” I’d like to note. Until now, my books have fallen into the mystery/suspense genre. I’m happy to announce that I’ve epubbed a horror/thriller in the Stephen King/Dean Koontz vein. Called THE TASTE, it’s available for Kindle and Nook. If horror/thrillers are your cup of tea, check it out!