Stephen King in Munich #2

Photos © Heike Huslage-Koch –

As it was the end of the season the last guests were clearing out. But the receptionist told them they could stay if they paid cash as he’d already had sent back the credit card reading device to Denver. So Stephen and his wife stayed at the hotel as the only guests and had dinner alone in the huge dining room where part of the chairs were turned up on the tables with leise music coming from somewhere and the wind howling around the house. Stephen said that then he’d thought what if transferred the grand hotel into the mountains far off a town and brought a small family to it with one of them slowly going mad. Then he’d have a hit novel!

Dennis also asked Stephen about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining saying that they’d both only talked once. Stephen replied that he’d actually talked to Stanley twice. On one morning at 7 am he was in shaving himself slightly hung-over when his wife came bustling into the bathroom and told him „it’s Stanley Kubrick on the phone!“ Stephen says he cut himself in that moment and stopping the bleeding with some toilet paper ran to the phone. The conversation which followed he described like this:
Kubrick: This is Stanley Kubrick. Ghost stories are rather optimistic, aren’t they?
-Stephen here told us that there he was standing in his underwear, bleeding in his face slightly hung-over at 7 am in the morning wondering why Stanley Kubrick would call and ask whether ghost stories were optimistic. So he’d asked Kubrick a question back.-
King: (after a pause) Why do you say that?
Kubrick: Because they know they’re not gone and life goes on.
King: But you’re forgetting hell.
Kubrick: (after long pause) I don’t believe in hell.
King: But they might not be happy ghosts because there might be other things that annoy them.
Kubrick: (after another long pause) Ok. – then he hung up.


The next time time Stephen King spoke to Stanley Kubrick was when Kubrick showed him around the film set of The Shining which was in England. Stephen King said that it was quite an experience to see something as huge as this set where they’d built the Overlook-Hotel. Kubrick showed him around and when he saw some cigarettes in Stephen’s chest pocket he asked if he might have one. Stephen gave him one which Kubrick smoked all the way down to the filter which then proceeded to roll between his finger and thumb until it had become a little ball. He then drew out a small box, one of those in which you might keep pills, and Stephen could see that there already were a dozen other little balls inside. Kubrick added the ball and put the box away again while Stephen thought „now that’s what a Freudian would call anal retentive!“

Stephen King added that he’d never said he hated Kubrick’s movie only that he didn’t like it as much as he liked Kubrick’s other films.
Dennis Scheck said that Stephen had complained that no one ever asked him about his language so Dennis asked. Stephen replied that it had developed and that his voice even was recognised when he had published three novels under the name of Richard Bachmann. Which he did because he wanted to see them published but his publisher only published one book a year.
He continued to say that he’d been moved by David Nathan’s reading even though he didn’t speak German. Yet the rhythm of the words moved him and though he didn’t understand what David was reading he recognized the part he was reading from. Stephen said that this voice was what people looked for and which they liked to find again. Which was the same with musicians and he named Bob Dylan as an example.

Three question were asked by audience members, of which this was the best one…
What would Stephen find in the needful things store?
Answer: H. P. Lovecraft’s pillow and he’d hope some dreams might still be hidden inside which he can use for stories.

The evening ended with standing ovations for a clearly moved Stephen King and the announcement of who qualified to purchase one of hundred signed copies of Doctor Sleep.
Stephen King had signed 100 books in the afternoon whilst listening to AC/DC very loudly as someone at the book stall had told my friend earlier on. On all tickets given out for the event animals had been stamped. At the end of the event Dennis Scheck told the audience that every person with a lion on their ticket can purchase one of the signed books. Mine had a seal.