Meet & Greet with Stephen King 2013

Posted: November 24, 2013, 23:59
The day started in Sweden the morning of November 20. To get to the airport there was a 2 hour drive. Then a little more than an hour on the plane and then another hour by bus and I was in Hamburg, Germany. I was there to see and meet Stephen King. It would be my second time to meeting him face to face. The first time was in London 2006 at a publishing party. This time I was invited by King’s German publisher, Heyne, to attend a Meet & Greet followed by a reading.

The Meet & Greet attendees were supposed to be at the CCH (Congress Center Hamburg) no later than 6.30PM. If you were late there was no guarantee that you would get to meet King. I was there in good time and so were the others. No one wanted to take the risk of not getting to meet King. Upon arrival we got a wristband, the ticket to the reading and a name tag to wear to the Meet & Greet. Then we waited. At 6.30 we were escorted backstage where we were supposed to meet King in less than 30 minutes. While we waited we got snacks and drinks and some ate and some were way too nervous to even think about food.

I also got to meet a lot of people who saw my name on the nametag and recognized my last name and its connection to Lilja's Library. I had spoken to most of them but didn't recognize them until they approached me. And I’m so glad they did. It was a lot of fun put a face to an email address or a name. I didn't get all of your contact information but please don't be strangers. I'd love to talk to you more about King and the Meet & Greet. I also met some people from Heyne that I had also previously only spoken to through email and I was very happy to meet them in person and to get a chance to thank them.

And then it was time. King was about to enter and you could almost feel the tension in the room. People were looking in the direction from where we thought he would come, looking at each other with nervous smiles on our faces and then all of a sudden he was there. In the flesh.

King started with walking around shaking everybody’s hands (some girls got hugs) before he stopped at the table where he would stand (it was the kind of table you stand by) so that we could all come up to him, say hi, get our books signed and shake his hand. Because he was running a few minutes late it was decided that he wouldn't dedicate any of the books but just sign his name. And then people started to approach him.

And I must say that King really is a natural at these things. He seems so relaxed and friendly and had a few words for everyone, posing for photos, shaking hands and so on. When it was my time I decided to get the German copy of Doctor Sleep signed. I had brought the Swedish edition of The Dark Tower 7 as well but since this was in Germany and since it was because of Doctor Sleep we were here I decided that that book would be a better memory. King signed it and when I asked for a photo he said “Of course”.

I had asked my friend Anders to take the photo but at the same time the hired photographer that took photos during the entire event also took our photo which resulted in King looking at him and me at Anders. I did notice this though so I asked if he would take one more looking into the same camera and he agreed. Turned out to be a great photo. Then I shook his hand thanking him and that also got caught on photo. And my time was up.

The signings and photo taking continued until King finally said he soon had to go and that he would only sign a few more. And since I saw that people were starting to queue all over again with a second book I thought “well, I also have a second book…”. So I put my Swedish Dark Tower 7 on the table. King signed it and said “OK, that's it. Thank you all” and left. The Meet & Greet was over but we had all enjoyed it and now we had a reading to attend.

We were let in first of all and had great seats reserved (thanks again Heyne). Fifth row center aisle just in front of King. Couldn’t have been much better. The reading lasted for about an hour and forty-five minutes and again I was struck by how natural all this seems to King. He joked, talked, read and answered questions like he'd done it all his life. Most of the talk was about Doctor Sleep but King also talked about and idea he got while experiencing the traffic in Paris. The car he was riding in stopped for a traffic light and he was looking over at the people in the car next to him. So close but still they had no idea he was there. It was a totally different universe even though it was just a few feet away from him. He asked if we wanted to hear a story and the entire audience roared a ”YES” and King continued ”This is like pissing a good story out on the ground. Usually they're better if they just stay inside but I just love this concept.” and then he told us the idea.

“So here's this guy who fly into La Guardia airport and his plane is late and he goes down to get his luggage and his luggage is of course the last one off the plane and the thing is he's coming to New York because although he's married he has a mistress and he told his wife his going to be home tomorrow but he's been detained on business. So he's all ready and gearing to go when he has all these things holding him back. So the plane is late, luggage is last, he goes out to the taxi, his at the end of the queue and he finally gets a cab and he goes into New York. As the cab pulls up next to another car he looks into it and sees a woman and a man sitting there and as he looks the man takes a razor out of his jacket and cuts the woman’s throat. Well, what does this guy do now? I don't know...”

Besides King we also got to listen to the German audio book narrator David Nathan who read a bit from Doctor Sleep. I didn’t understand much of what he read but he had a great voice for narrating books. We were also told that he is Johnny Depp’s voice when he is dubbed into German.

The night was over and with two signed books and a great memory I returned to the hotel. It was a great event and Heyne arranged it very well. Thanks to you and to King off course!