A few weeks back, our editors here at the Bangor Daily News challenged staffers with a pretty cool question that was designed, I imagine, to inject a little bit more excitement into the newsroom.
“If you could write any story from any beat, what would it be?” they asked.
Well, bosses, I’m glad you asked. And since you told me that I needn’t worry that a story didn’t revolve around hunting, fishing, mystery beasts, beavers stealing rifles from hunters, or anything else that happens outdoors, I’ve got a great idea.
I want to interview our hometown author, Stephen King. Not for an hour. Not for a day. This assignment might take a few days … in fact, if Mr. King will allow the access that the story deserves (and if it’s snowy up here and sunny down in Florida), you might not see me for awhile.
My boss heard my pitch and thought it was interesting. She said if I could line up the gig, she’d give it her blessing (or, at least, that’s what I heard her saying). And she told me to write a column that might catch King’s attention, intrigue him a bit, and get him to grant me the access I’m asking for.
My colleague, Emily Burnham, also put Stephen King on her wish-list. She wants to make a Spotify mix tape with King, in video form. She figures that King owns WKIT and is a noted music lover (and musician), it would make perfect sense to film a video of King listening to some of his favorite movie and talking about it. That mix would then be loaded onto Spotify for folks to enjoy.
Wow. Good idea. Wish I’d come up with that.
But since I didn’t, here’s my pitch:
Dear Mr. King,
How’d you like a visitor for a few days? A fellow writer? A constant reader. Your No. 1 fan! (OK. I take that back. That was a little bit too Annie Wilkes of me, wasn’t it?)
Or, if you prefer, you could just think of me as your never-before met next-door neighbor. (Yes, I live just down the street from your Bangor home. Even saw you walking a dog and reading a book once … not that I was going all Annie Wilkes on you or anything).
So, I’m a writer here at the Bangor Daily News. You might have seen a few things I’ve written in the past. Like the story about the beaver that stole the hunter’s gun? What? You didn’t believe that story was true? C’mon. Where you been living? Under a dome somewhere?
If I can line up an in-depth interview with you, that would be a great thing for a not-so-young fellow writer. My bosses are betting you won’t be available. But here’s the thing: I’m very available. I can fit my plans into virtually any schedule (at least, I can until my boss realizes that I’ve made this guarantee).
I know, I know. You’ve got reporters after you all the time. Everybody wants to write about you. And you rarely have time to spend time with a writer from Podunk who wants to tell your story, even though he’s sure he can tell it in a way that nobody’s ever heard.
But here’s the deal: This Podunk? It’s your Podunk … or Derry … or whatever you want to call it.
And me? I’m just a guy who started reading your books back when you were still teaching part-time as your writing career took off.
I owe that to my fifth-grade teacher, who read “Salem’s Lot” aloud to the whole class nearly 40 years ago. Mr. Gilbert would pause every once in awhile and say stuff like, “Hmm … think I ought to skip that part,” but still included enough of the good stuff that I asked for the book for Christmas that year, just so I could see what he’d left out.
I read the book, mesmerized. Then my mom took the book, read a few pages, and said something like this: “I bought this book for you? What was I thinking?”
When we got “The Shining” a few months later, mom let me read it first … then she read it from cover to cover. We were hooked. And we’ve been reading virtually everything you’ve written since.
Which (I figure) means that I’m just the person to write a long BDN feature on you. Not convinced?
Well, consider this: When I walk through downtown Bangor, I never look in storm drains. (That whole Pennywise thing is still tormenting me, so many years after the release of “It.)
When I drive by a particular house in Orrington, I’m sure that if I walk into the woods a piece, I’ll find the real Pet Sematary. A high school buddy told me about it … and I imagine it’s still there. You found it, didn’t you?
What I’m getting at is this: I understand. I read. I write.
I have discovered that cool place where writers escape, the characters start acting on their own, and the person at the keyboard stops dictating what’s going to come next. Then the real ride begins.
So, here’s what I’m looking for. Some time. In person. At the venue of your choosing. I want to ask you about books and Bangor, life in general, and the characters that still haunt you … like they haunt the rest of us. A day would work fine … a few days better.
And if it’s snowy here and sunny where you are, I’m sure I could stay as long as needed … just to make sure I get the story that deserves to be told, mind you.
Thanks for your consideration. My assistant will be standing by to take your call and arrange the particulars. (OK. Who am I kidding? Nobody would apply for the position of “assistant to the guy who can’t ever seem to find a deer, even though he writes about deer and deer hunting all fall).
Constant Reader (but not, for obvious reasons, Your No. 1 Fan).
Follow John Holyoke on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org