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Author Stephen King Entertains Sold-Out Crowd at WSU

Beth Golay

Stephen King’s stop in Wichita Friday night was one of a six-city book tour to promote his newest work of fiction, Revival. Fans waited for hours outside of WSU's Hughes Metropolitan Complex, seemingly oblivious to the cold, going through tight security for a chance to see the author.

Although his clothing was non-descript--khakis, a button-up shirt, and smart brown shoes--there was no mistaking King as he made his way to the stage. His first words to the audience received rousing applause. “I’m wearing my WU Shock,” he said, pointing to the front of his shirt.

Labeled as a “horror” writer early in his career--beginning with the publication of Carrie in 1974, and reinforced later with The Shining, Pet Sematary, and Misery--King is the author of more than 50 novels and 7 works of non-fiction. He spoke about several of his titles, receiving a round of applause at each mention. “It’s weird. I say the name of a book, and you all clap,” he said, referring to his books as “greatest hits.”

“I’m not an organized writer. ... It’s really a non-ecological way to work, because a lot of material gets wasted from time to time,” he said of his writing. “I start, and I just sort of assume that the ending is going to be there.”

And when the ending of a book is sad, King often receives letters of complaint from his readers. But it was his seemingly contradictory comment that earned the loudest laughter of the evening: “I like a happy ending as much as anybody. It’s just not always possible.”

The event was co-hosted by Wichita State University and Watermark Books & Café.

Beth Golay is KMUW's Director of Marketing and Digital Content. She is the host of the KMUW podcast Marginalia and co-host with Suzanne Perez of the Books & Whatnot podcast. You can find her on Wichita Transit in conversation with other riders for En Route, a monthly segment on KMUW's weekly news program The Range.