Marsha DeFilippo

Posted: April 12, 2004
Marsha DeFilippo is Stephen King's personal assistant and I'm sure all of you have seen her name in different articles where she has commented on different issues regarding Stephen King. Well, I got the chance to talk to her and here is what she had to say.

{On the photo to the right Marsha is the one sitting and the woman standing is Julie Eugley}

Hi Marsha, first let me thank you for taking the time of (from what I understand is a rather hectic schedule) to do this interview! I really appreciate it!

Lilja: You are only the second woman I interview. Do you think that Stephen has more male fans then female fans and if so, why is that do you think?

Marsha DeFilippo: I haven't noticed a big gender difference in his fans. What I've noticed more is the diversity of his fan base and that it includes such a wide range of ages, gender, ethnicity, etc.

Lilja: Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you get (what many would consider the dream job) the job as Stephen's assistant?

Marsha DeFilippo: I first worked for Stephen in 1986 on temporary assignment to type the manuscript for Eyes of the Dragon. Although it had been published as a limited edition previously, he needed it on computer disks for the Viking publication. It was supposed to take me a month to do but I was enjoying the story so much that I finished the typing in two weeks. Not very smart for someone on temporary duty! Stephen was impressed with my typing skills, though, so kept me on to type the manuscript for Tommyknockers. Two years later when his assistant, Stephanie Leonard, decided to return to college I was contacted to see if I would be interested in a part-time position. The timing was right and the job developed into a full-time position.

Lilja: What do the assistant to Stephen King do? Is it a dream job or is it just like all other jobs? Can you describe a typical day at the office?

Marsha DeFilippo: I do a bit of everything as Stephen's personal assistant--answering phones, fan mail, administering and moderating the web site, making travel arrangements, publicist, working with the various publishers and film/television production companies when Stephen is personally involved, interview/appearance requests, etc. etc. It can become routine but overall it's the best job I've ever had. The longest I'd ever worked at another job was 3 years and I've been here over 15 (not counting the temp assignment). There's no such thing as a typical day at the office!

Lilja: What is the most asked question that you have to answer? I guess the questions about The Dark Tower are getting fewer and fewer now that they are all written and only the last two parts is unreleased?

Marsha DeFilippo: You're right, now that the Dark Tower books have been finished, the shift has gone to when will you make a movie of the Dark Tower series. The next most frequently asked question probably is "When will you finish The Plant?"

Lilja: Here is what King says about those two questions in the FAQ on his official site:

- - -

Question: Are you going to do a Dark Tower movie?

Answer: I've always resisted that idea because movies have a way of freezing characters and places in the audience's mind whereas in books everybody has their own different idea of, for instance, how Roland or Susannah looks but if you do it as a movie, immediately that kind of gets frozen in place and you say 'Oh, Billy Bob Thornton is what Roland Deschain looks like.' Or you say 'Brad Pitt, that's what Eddie Dean looks like.' You know what I'm saying, or you can say 'Calla Bryn Sturgis from Wolves of the Calla looks like maybe the Universal back lot', and I've always resisted that. The issue with The Dark Tower books is there's so much story, so many incidents, that it couldn't be done in one movie alone. It would have to be done at least as a trilogy the way The Lord of the Rings movies were done or it would have to be done as a TV series, probably on HBO because of the violence, the way The Sopranos was done. I haven't entirely ruled that idea out but for the next two or three years while the books have their initial run, I think that if you want the story of Roland, you'll have to get it at your bookstore rather than the local movie theater.

Question: Are you going to finish The Plant?

Answer: Time will tell.

- - -

Lilja: Have the things you do change over the years? I guess that Stephen has gotten more fans (or at least more fans that contact you since the Internet became every mans toy)?

Marsha DeFilippo: It does seem that the majority of fan mail is now received through the web site although we do still receive quite a bit at our office. We didn't have computers or fax machines when I first started so the biggest change, as for most people, has been on the technological side. Because of the technology we now have, there is little impact on what we do at the office even though Stephen and Tabitha do not spend as much time in Bangor since their children have grown up and live elsewhere.

Lilja: I know that there are many fans that contact Stephen by regular mail or e-mail but are there many fans that show up at the office or at his home? How do you handle these incidents?

Marsha DeFilippo: The summer months are when this happens more frequently as this is the most popular time of year for visitors. It's not a problem at their home as long as fans respect their privacy and remain on the public street or sidewalk. Unfortunately, there are the ones that ignore the Private Property, No Trespassing signs and knock on their front door. They are told politely that this is not okay and asked to leave.

Lilja: Has there ever been any "dangerous" fans showing up? What happened?

Marsha DeFilippo: For the most part, there are no disturbances that require any further intervention but if necessary, the Bangor Police Department can and has been called upon. In at least two instances, arrests have been made.

Lilja: What is the strangest thing a fan has sent to Stephen?

Marsha DeFilippo: Define strange :-)

Lilja: I guess I mean something that Stephen (or you) never expected to get in the mail or delivered, something that made you gasp and caused your chin to fall on the floor.

Marsha DeFilippo: It was before I came to work for Stephen so I didn't experience it first-hand, but some very disturbed person sent a box with dead kittens.

Lilja: Do you read all the books so you can answer questions from fans or do you ask Stephen?

Marsha DeFilippo: When I first started working for him I had not read any of them and I still have not read all of Stephen's works. For the most part, I answer the questions either by having read the book or looking in other resources we have to see if I can first find the answer myself and then depending upon his schedule and the question asked, I will sometimes ask Stephen if he can answer it.

Lilja: There has been a list on which you can get to get a signed book by King. I have heard that it doesn't exist any more, is that correct? I know that a lot of fans are wondering about it.

Marsha DeFilippo: Stephen recently decided that he will now only sign books at book signings.

Lilja: How do you feel about the fact that Stephen is (I won't use the word retiring since that seams to have been misused by quite a few people) slowing down in his publishing? Are you afraid you will loose your job?

Marsha DeFilippo: I'm not worried about losing my job because of Stephen's retiring/slow down. There will still be plenty for us to do. We haven't noticed much slowing down so far, though.

Lilja: And last. What is Stephen working on now? Is there anything you can talk about?

Marsha DeFilippo: Kingdom Hospital is occupying most of his time right now but beyond that there's nothing I can mention yet.