Write to the Point!

A Neighborhood Studios Program at the Mark Twain House

Archive for the tag “Stephen King”

The Many Sides of Stephen King

By Molly Miller

Writing Apprentice

Twain Studios

“I’m a Belieber,” said Stephen King, the author of more than 50 novels, as he spoke to NPR host Colin McEnroe at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts during a fundraiser for The Mark Twain House Thursday night.

King was riffing off the nearby Justin Bieber concert a few blocks over at the XL Center, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a tiny bit of truth in his claim.

When he first arrived on stage, he put his hands on his face in mock embarrassment as the crowd stood up and cheered for the prolific writer, smiling as if he were a shy little kid – a contrast to the deep, brooding man one might expect from the master of the horror genre.

Stephen King, handshake Molly, Patti P

Writing Apprentice Molly Martin shakes hands with author Stephen King as Apprentices Rae Martin and June Tran look on.

It was clear before the dialogue began that King had a sense of humor similar to Twain’s. As it happens, King has known Twain almost his entire life. When King was six, his mom read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” to him and his brother.

“We laughed our asses off,” said King. He admired Tom’s craftiness in tricking other kids into giving him toys in exchange for the privilege of whitewashing his fence. He thought to himself, “I would like to be a writer, because that’s the kind of work that is.”

Often, King’s work isn’t taken as seriously as the work of other writers, and King said that this was because critics are too fussy in their definitions of “literature.”

“We make this kind of artificial distinction between popular fiction and literature,” he said, comparing that type of critic to a child who refuses to eat his mashed potatoes because they touched something else on his plate.

Some critics condemn the inclusion of brand names in his writing, King said, but he thinks brand names add a dimension of realism. “Those are the specifics poets write about, and I love it.”

Although King believes in God, he doesn’t like organized religion.

“I choose to believe in God, because what’s the downside?” he asked, laughing. “If you die and there’s nothing, you’re not gonna … know.” However, in large blocks, he thinks religious groups can do more harm than good.

King has been through a number of traumatic events. He described being hit by a van and spending four days knocked out in a hospital. He then spent about four years hooked on the painkiller Oxycontin.

He was good natured when he spoke about the horrific event.

“If you didn’t laugh at life,” King said, “you would cry.”

English teachers and philosophers might try to piece together different occurrences in King’s life and extract some deep meaning, but King would not approve.

“‘Did this happen for a reason?’ Why ask that question?” said King. “You’re never gonna know.”

In many of King’s books, kids play a central role.

“I’m interested in kids because they haven’t narrowed their perceptions yet,” said King.

Is he working out some of his own childhood and teenage demons as well? Maybe, maybe not. King thinks that high school is a universally frightening experience for everyone.

“Anyone who looks back at high school as the greatest time in their lives,” said King, “is someone who has mental problems.”

King doesn’t want his life or his writing style to be analyzed in search of a common thread, but if one theme could capture the man, author and legend, it’s the authenticity that shows in his organic plots and characters.

Bodybuilding Librarian Uses Might To Cope With Tourette’s

Strongest librarian

Bodybuilder Josh Hanagarne, who bills himself as the world’s strongest librarian, talks with writing apprentices at the Mark Twain House & Museum.

By June Tran

Writing apprentice

Twain Studios

A eager reader at an early age, Josh Hanagarne, started reading large novels such as Stephen King’s Misery during the fifth grade.

“I would always find the biggest book that I could find,” Hanagarne said during a visit at the Mark Twain Museum.

As a person with Tourette’s Syndrome, Hanagarne did not recall it as a major influence of it on his childhood.

Other than experiencing the mild onset symptoms of the disease when he was six, Hanagarne recalls his childhood as normal as any other American child.

It was during his youth Mormon missionary to Washington D.C. that the disease truly took an effect.

“It really went berserk,” Hanagarne said. “I started hitting myself in the face.”

It is hard to imagine the feeling of having Tourette’s but Hanagarne describes it as having an “intense sneeze.” One that “itches… [and] doesn’t feel good” if held in.

Hanagarne is very grateful for the people who surround him. His family is extremely supportive, even after his decision to separate from the Mormon Church.

His family members were not the only people Hanagarne mentioned in his short visit. There was also his wife, Janette, the person whom Hanagarne’s mother described as “the perfect girl [for him].”

Despite having written The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family, Hanagarne said, “It did not start out that way. This book wasn’t supposed to happen.” Rather, it started out with Hanagarne’s daily journal entries on his blog, worldsstrongestlibrarian.com.

But after author Seth Godin saw the blog and contacted Hanagarne, he begin writing his memoir.

Still the memoir today is different from the original draft that he had intended, since the story changed.

Originally, the story was intended to revolve around his success with getting rid of the Tourette’s tics. It was to include his regime as well as involvement with strongman Adam T. Glass, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant.

But the Tourette’s didn’t go away.

“I had to change the theme around because there wasn’t going to be someone riding into a sunset,” explained Hanagarne.

As a librarian in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hanagarne is an avid reader. He sleeps very little, three hours a day, and reads a book each day.

His favorite book is The Confederacy Dunces. It’s “one of the funniest books that I’ve ever read,” he said, adding, “it gets sadder every year.”

As a person who is stricken with curiosity, Hanagarne loves the fact that every time he reads the book, the “more complicated and slippery” the humor gets.

A Connecticut Journalist in Stephen King’s Company

Stephen King, Jakes.2, Patti P

Twain Studios Writing Apprentices with author Stephen King. From left: Rae Martin, Stephen King, Molly Miller, June Tran, Grant Henry, Ashaya Nelson, Jahyra White, Indira Senderovic

By Grant Henry

Writing Apprentice

Twain Studios

Just as author Stephen King finished his tour of the legendary Mark Twain House & Museum Friday morning, a waiting pack of eager young journalists was ready to pounce.

When King paused on the way to his car to say hello, the writing apprentices of Neighborhood Studio’s “Write to the Point!” program each took turns feeling the worn fingers that brought the world over 50 thrilling novels.

This certainly wasn’t the first time King has shaken the hands of fans in Hartford. Just last night he joined NPR radio host Colin McEnroe for a dialogue at the Bushnell Theater.

King discussed his life and opinions to a packed house that laughed and cheered at every remark and reference the author made. The show, as entertaining as it was, had a very human goal: all the profits went straight to the Mark Twain House & Museum.

King was set to arrive at the Twain House for a reception Thursday afternoon. An incredible excitement filled the air, and questions flew in the minds as everyone anticipated his arrival.

“What if he’s in the parking lot?” “Do you think I’ll get to talk to him?”

Josh Hanagarne, a bodybuilding librarian visiting the museum, had the honor of having lunch with King. Everyone was jealous. All the adrenaline pumping through the staff’s thinking caps could only be rivaled by the enormous standing ovations the crowd of thousands gave King at the Bushnell later that night.

A photograph produced itself on the Twain House facebook page mid-day; a picture of the King himself signing books in one of the museum offices! He’s here!

All the young journalists diligently working on independent projects could do was wait for their own shining moment with the author. It did not come until the day after his stellar performance, though.

King was on a tight schedule before he had to return to Maine, but he made sure to first tour the home where Mark Twain lived. When he emerged from the historic home, the writing apprentices greeted him.

Dressed casually in a red sweater, King gave the grinning young journalists a moment to remember before he said he had to “jet” and return to his comfortable home in Maine to continue spooking audiences everywhere.

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