This is just a note to thank the loyal subjects who have sent in pictures of my kingdom. All the accompanying captions are witty, and some are falling-down-funny. Keep them coming! You will soon see the results, I hope, in a slide-show that illuminates many odd corners of my wonderful (if often shadowy) realm. My ego has been completely re-inflated, and I think I’m ready to face any mean reviews and nuclear blogs that may appear when Full Dark, No Stars comes out in November. Instead of feeling downhearted, I’ll just remind myself of my funkadelic kingdom full of car washes, bars, restaurants, billboards…even a bottle of royal rug cleaner!

Several of you have sent in pix of various St. Stephen’s churches, and I thought you might be amused to know I was actually named after that saint. But the name didn’t come up until my mom was actually in labor. Remember, this was back in the medical stone age, before all that ultrasound stuff. The doctors assured my mother that I was going to be female, because my fetal heartbeat was 160 (anything over 140 was supposed to be a girl). Mom decided to call me Martha. Then, late in the pregnancy, she amended that a little. Constant Readers, I was almost Marcia King. Consider the awesomeness of the concept: The Stand, by Marcia King!

But enough pointless speculation; back to my story. Mom goes into labor. Eighteen hours, maybe twenty. Screaming her head off, smoking her way through a whole pack of Kools. The doctor finally resorted to forceps. Yanked me out (and you wonder why I have gruesome ideas—you would, too, if you were rudely pulled from your nice warm cave)! But before those cruel forceps came into play, while the labor was still going on, my Aunt Molly asked Mom what she was going to call me if, against all odds, I turned out to be a boy.

Mom thought for all of two minutes, long enough for another contraction to hit. Then she groaned, “I’ll call him Stephen, after the early Christian who was pressed to death by stones. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE!”

Thus I became a Steve instead of a Marcy, and thanks to all my good friends at StephenKing.com, I have the world’s funkiest kingdom.

One last thing—did you guys see my bowling alley?

Nice, huh? Very…striking.


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