NEW YORK — How big a rock star is Stephen King in the publishing world?
Comedian Whitney Cummings, who has her own book coming out this fall, put it into perspective when she followed the best-selling author on stage Thursday at the Book and Author Breakfast at BookExpo America.
“I’m sorry Stephen King isn’t here,” she lamented to a crowd of booksellers after King exited the room. “It’s a bummer. Let’s all mourn the loss. He’s so awesome. I flirted with him backstage. (Beat.) It didn’t go so great.”
King opened the breakfast (after jokingly complaining he’d risen at 5:30 a.m. to make the event) by joining his son, Owen King, to promote a novel they’ve co-written, Sleeping Beauties (Scribner, September).
Owen King spoke first, explaining that an idea popped into his head: “How about a story where all the women fell asleep?”
A world without women would be “awful” and “could only be one thing, a Stephen King novel,” he said. Owen, an author in his own right (Double Feature), told his horror-maestro Dad that he should write the novel. Eventually, they came to an agreement — to write Sleeping Beauties together. Their collaboration was “special,” Owen King said. “We certainly had a lot of fun.”
Stephen King followed his son at the podium, saying he thought Owen's idea imagined the “perfect situation.”
“The first thing that came into my mind was something my mother used to say. She raised my brother and me alone. We were latchkey kids before there were latchkey kids, back in the ‘50s. She used to say that if you go into a house and you use the bathroom and there is no ring around the toilet, there’s a woman around somewhere because men don’t do that.”
Sleeping Beauties takes place in a small town in West Virginia where the primary employer is a women’s prison. Local women become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze; if the gauze is disturbed, the women become feral and violent.
King called the experience of writing with his son a “blessing” and a “thrill.” The “book turned out to be a really good book, and I can say that because I only wrote 50% of it,” he said.
Cummings’ “funny” self-help memoir I’m Fine … And Other Lies will be released by Putnam in October. Between jokes (“Stephen King thinks I’m Chelsea Handler”), the star talked about her issues with self-esteem, choosing the wrong men and “almost ending up in a Guatemala prison.” To hear the nitty-gritty on the latter episode, fans will have to read her book.