The father-son pair discussed collaborating to write their new fiction, ‘Sleeping Beauties.’
What if all the women in the world fell asleep and couldn’t wake up?
That’s the question that came to Owen King, son of author Stephen King, and inspired the book the two wrote together.
“Sleeping Beauties” is about an epidemic in which women fall into a deep sleep and end up cocooned in a mysterious fiber. When anyone tries to release them, the women’s behavior turns homicidal.
The father and son pair ended their 10-city book tour Oct. 6 at Selby Public Library. The sold-out crowd of 400 gathered to hear the elder King, who owns a home in Sarasota County, speak with his son about their writing process. It was followed by the chance to ask questions.
In true Stephen King fashion, the famous sci-fi writer, known for his horror stories, began by telling guests he was glad he wasn’t sitting in the crowd beneath one of the huge sculptures hanging from the ceiling.
“We’re all having a real great time right now, but then we go home and we’re alone,” King joked about how soon enough, they’d all be lying in the dark.
Apparently the Kings think alike, because Owen King said he thought of his dad when the idea for the book came to him.
His dad said when he heard the idea, he felt like he couldn’t take it away from his son. Instead, after several arguments about who would write it, they decided to collaborate.
Originally, the story was meant to be a limited-series television show. But after they made an episode and a half, it was evident that TV wasn’t the right format.
When they decided to make it a book, they split the writing 50-50, each writing 25 or so pages at a time. They left white space in sections that were causing them trouble and had the other fill in. And they rewrote each other “heavily.”
To make the book flow, they created a third voice in which they both wrote. That way it wouldn’t be clear who wrote what section because it wouldn’t be reflective of their personal writing style. It was effective, Stephen King said, because sometimes when he reads excerpts he can’t remember if he wrote it or not.
They wrote on spec and had no contract, but Owen King said the uncertainty was worth it for the bonding experience it afforded them.
“I basically got to have a year-long conversation with my dad,” he said, noting that’s uncommon for a 40-year-old man with his own family.
Stephen King has published 57 books, directed a movie and written several comic books throughout his career. But his collaboratory career with his son started when Owen King was 8 years old and obsessed with GI Joe. The two designed their own action figure, sent it into Hasbro and the company picked it up.
Just another accomplishment to add to Stephen King’s resume.
Before the Q&A, Owen King asked his father four trivia questions about his 57 books. He got three out of the four correct — there’s a lot to keep track of when you’ve been a published author for 44 years.
In the Q&A, guests asked King everything: Should they stop reading another one of his books to read “Sleeping Beauties?”; Would he consider writing another Dark Tower Story? (The answer is yes, by the way.) Among the last questions was the most relevant to the new book.
Asked why he wrote a book with feminist undertones, Stephen King responded by saying it wasn’t intentional. That’s just the way he thinks.
“I was raised by a single mom before single moms were a thing,” he said. “Then I married a strong woman.”