Stephen King comes to Amherst Cinema via live feed

By Michelle Williams

Last Tuesday night, Amherst Cinema broadcasted the live feed of New York Times writer Janet Maslin’s interview of Stephen King to a local audience.

The event began with a 30-minute introductory video of previous interviews the New York Times Style magazine has conducted of celebrities and famous personalities. At 7 p.m., Gwen Philbrook of the Times welcomed the audience to the Times Talks LIVE, which was held at The Times Center in New York City in a sold out viewing room, and broadcast at arthouse cinemas and coffee shops around the country.

After the introduction, King and Maslin were welcomed on stage to rounds of applause from the audience. Maslin opened the interview with a joke about how much the book weighed and King responded by advising her to not “drop it on your foot.” Maslin also spoke about the difficulties of leaving her home while reading King’s novels, stating that she cannot put them down.

King’s latest book, “Into the Dome,” is a work that has been written and re-written since the 1970s. A thriller set in a small Maine town, the work features more than 100 characters that interact with a supernatural force. The town has a dome formed around it, which birds as well as military planes crashing into, while to the town people it merely seems that these incidents are happening for no reason.

Despite President Brack Obama being in office in the time period the book is set in, the plot touches on issues from the Bush-Cheney administration, as well as other issues dating back to King’s first attempt at the novel three decades ago.

Throughout the interview with Maslin, King made jokes about his books, life, his previous history with drugs and alcohol, and married life. The interview also touched on the issue of the battle between new technology and print edition books, discussing the introduction of the Kindle, Amazon’s handheld screen that allows readers to download books onto a lightweight device rather than carrying around books for traveling. Though many of his readers would like to download his new novel, they will be unable to download the Kindle version until Dec. 31, although the print version is in stores now. King said he hopes to give independent bookstores a chance during the holiday season.

While admitting to having a Kindle himself, King explained that he prefers print editions of books.

For the last 30 minutes, King took questions from audience members.

Most wondered if another graphic novel from the “Dark Tower” series would be published, which King assured them he was currently working on, though with no set publishing date. Others asked for advice for upcoming writers. He recommended that they send their works to a variety of different authors and publishers, stating that one never knows who will read and like it. The most basic advice for writers, King said, is to “write about what you know.”

The final question came from an 8-year-old boy, who asked what inspired the author to write “Eyes of the Dragon.” King responded that when his daughter was 11-years-old, she asked him, “Would you write something that isn’t too scary that I could read?” King responded, “I’ll try,” and based the novel on her favorite topics of dragons and fantasylands.

At 8:30 p.m.,  the audience left the theater with a general air of fulfillment. One woman remarked that the quality of the interview was surprisingly good. Amherst Cinema plans to screen future TimesTalks LIVE events if they continue after the pilot season.

Michelle Williams can be reached at