My father kept his porno magazines underneath the bathroom sink when I was a teenager. Not the most creative hiding spot from a hormonal-crazed son and an angry wife. The June 1983 issue of Playboy caught my attention with the Stephen King interview. (I do read Playboy for the articles.) Besides being a horror writer, I didn’t know who he was at the time. Or, as my mother once said after seeing the American Express commercial, “Who the f*** is Stephen King?!”
I practically devoured the interview from beginning to end to divine the secrets of being a successful writer. That’s something I desperately wanted back then. But I had two major stumbling blocks as a teenage writer: my English skills as a high school drop out was inadequate despite a college-level reading comprehension, and I lacked the necessary life experiences to fuel my writing. I didn’t become serious about writing until a quarter-century later, after I earned two associate degrees—general education in 1994, computer programming in 2007—from San Jose City College and learned much about suffering as a Christian for 13 years.
The first Stephen King novel I read was “IT” in 1986. A story of middle-aged adults returning home to do battle with a creature they thought they killed as children, but haven’t remembered anything specific about their childhood until then. I didn’t realize it while reading the book that I gaps from my childhood memory that didn’t come to light until after my mother died from breast cancer in 2004. When I read “IT” as an adult, I related more strongly with the adults as I was in a similar situation of not remembering who I was.
After I became a Christian and decided to move into a five-bedroom Victorian in downtown San Jose with 12 campus brothers, several brothers helped me move my stuff out of my parents’ place. I opened the closet door in my bedroom to clean it out. A three-foot tall stack of Playboy magazines fell down on the hardwood floor in a slow sliding motion before our feet. Needless to say, my sin was quite obvious. We tossed those magazines away, including the one with the Stephen King interview.
The Stephen King interview has never appeared in the hardbound collections of the Playboy interviews over the years or even online after the Internet became popular. Familiar passages were often quoted directly or indirectly in the various Stephen King biographies. As a fiction writer, I always wanted a copy for my reference and collection.
Six months ago I bought the June 1983 issue of Playboy for five bucks on eBay. Reading through the magazine again brought back memories from my tormented teenage years when I struggled and failed with writing. A few weeks ago, while browsing for new releases for the Amazon Kindle, I discovered that the Stephen King Playboy interview was available as a $0.99 USD ebook. A more convenient, readable format than a 30-year-old paper magazine with a slight “under the bathroom sink” smell.