My friend, Tim Heintzman, is doing a two week seminar on Stephen King in Crowsnest Pass, Canada. Tim has a great passion for Stephen King's work. I hope you enjoy my interview with him!
TSK: Hi Tim, thank you for agreeing to share with me about your upcoming class. Tell me a little about yourself.
Tim: I am 50 years old and currently work in the construction/carpentry industry in the “Crowsnest Pass” in South-West Alberta. My wife, Dixie, and I moved here 9 years ago for an expected 2-3 year stay, and have not left. When asked if I have a hobby, my response is “yes, I am an avid reader, studier and collector of Stephen King”
TSK: When did you start reading Stephen King?
Tim: In the summer of 1982 (June or July), I found a used paperback edition of “The Shining”. You know, the one with the shiny cover. Once I met the Torance family and the Overlook Hotel, that was it… I was hooked. I started to look for other King titles and have never stopped.
TSK: Do you only read King, or do you collect? Do you have some favorite pieces? Does your family support your King habit?
TIM: I have been reading King since 1982 and have been a serious collector since 1991/92. I made the conscious decision to be a collector on a “Beer Budget” as opposed to a “Champaign Budget”. Meaning I could not, or would not be able to, afford the high end specialty items. The signed Ltd’s, and early first editions etc.. I decided to go after other rare and unusual items in the “King Universe”. Such as first appearances of short fiction, uncollected fiction, newsletters, interviews, magazine appearances and the vast selection of “reference related” materials available. My collection now numbers well over 1,000 pieces and is growing all the time.
Favourite pieces???… Whew!!! That would be tough, as there are many. Top 3… The nearly complete (short only 4 of 55) series of “Castle Rock: The Stephen King Newsletter”; The Stephen King Illustrated Companion by Bev Vincent; and, my black cover and white cover true first editions of “Firestarter” paperbacks (only the true “completists” are even aware of these). The favourite part of my collection is the vast variety of different types of items and media that are represented.
As for family support, many of my first hardcovers came from presents from family members who knew of my passion for King’s books. My wife (Dixie) had a special plaque made for my collection for our first Christmas together (2002), and it now sits out front and at the top of my collection.
TSK: For me, the Stand makes a huge personal connection. The same with The Shining. Which of King’s books connect with you most?
Tim: The Shining was my first, and the one that had me hooked, but the one with the most impact was “The Stand”. I fell for so many characters in that book and was enthralled with the whole scope of it… it felt so real. But it was my fourth or fifth King book, “Nightshift”, that really got me as well. His short stories are excellent little adventures of their own and great “short escapes” from reality.
TSK: Your class looks awesome! What made you decide to teach a class on Stephen King?
Tim: I was leafing through the spring calendar for a local association that offers night classes/courses (signed up for e-bay courses), when I noticed an ad looking for instructors. I felt that the topic of Stephen King and his work would qualify for a “general interest” subject and decided to suggest a class. They thought it might be interesting as well, and… we put it together.
As for qualifications to offer such a program; I have been reading King for nearly 30 years and a serious collector for 20 years. I have a reference library that includes some 40 books, numerous video interviews and 2 significant CD ROM’s on King and his work. But, most importantly, I am always willing and happy to share my passion and enthusiasm for my hobby with fellow King fans.
TSK: Tell me more about the class. I sure do wish I could attend!
Tim: It is my aim to focus on the unknown and obscure aspects of his mega career, those things that the average fan does not know about. I will discuss his childhood and early writing efforts. The origins of “Carrie” and its publication. The use (how and why) of “Richard Bachman”. The many movies and series based on his work and the “Dollar Babies”. The many audio editions of his books that are available. His involvement with “The Rock Bottom Remainders”, the rock and band he is a member of. His other musical collaborations, both completed and in the works. His career as a columnist for Entertainment Weekly. The large selection of reference related books and works featuring King and his work. The current list of his works being done in comics and graphic formats. The publication histories to some of his novel in terms of Limited Editions and unique editions.
There really is a lot of unique topics and subjects to be explored in the world of Stephen King that I could include.
TSK: Without a doubt, the best fan site out there is Hans Lilja’s "Lilja’s Library." You’ve had some recent communication with him, what was that like?
Tim: As a follower of his site and receiving his newsletter for many years, it was nice to get his encouragement and offer of support. I agree that his site is the best out there and e-mailing with him is awesome!!! I felt a real privilege to be included at that level of the “King community”
TSK: I know you’re from Canada. Is King pretty popular in your parts?
Tim: Oh Yeah!!! Just like in any other corner of the world, there are Stephen King fans in Canada too… I have many family members, friends and acquaintances who are all King fans and “Constant Readers”
TSK: Tell me more about Crowsnest Pass.
Tim: The Municipality of The Crowsnest Pass is made up of five separate towns/communities within a close geographic area at, and around, the base of the world famous Turtle Mountain. It was the site of a mountain slide (known as The Frank Slide) that covered a portion of the small town of Frank, Alberta in 1903. We are at the South end of the Canadian Rockies, in the very South-West corner of the province of Alberta, Canada. It is a wonderful place for any outdoor sportsman of any season. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain climbing, skiing, snowmobiling, ATV’ing, you name it… The Pass has it.
The total population of the 5 towns is just around 7,000, but in mid-July every year, that grows to over 25.000 during our annual “Rum Runner Days” weekend that celebrates the rich history of our heritage and the days of “prohibition” in the 1920’s when there were liquor smugglers in the area. The highlight of the weekend is our famous “Thunder in the Valley” fireworks show that is really spectacular.
TSK: Do you find that a lot of people misunderstand King and his work?
Tim: Yeah, I feel some do, not a lot…, but some. I feel they don’t get past the “horror” title and are not aware of the many other facets to King’s abilities and his impact on current society and popular culture. Think of a high school prom, and up come images from Carrie. Think of the name Cujo, and up come images of a rabid dog. His imaginations and works, have impacted so many different forms of media that affect every part of society – every demographic of every age group around the world…
TSK: Just to be random. . . I see the King movies are also going to be addressed in your seminar. Tell me, what do you think is the best adaptation of a King story? And the worst? (My vote on worst always goes to Sleepwalkers) What do you generally think of the King movies
Tim: As a general rule, I have enjoyed most of the many King adaptations out there (first rule of thumb is to read the book or story FIRST), but some do fall short… My top would have to be “Stand by Me” with the trio of Darabont films (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist) coming in next. Frank Darabont just has a knack for finding the story and presenting it visually… Least favourites would be “Children of the Corn”(any) and “Dreamcatcher” fell short of expectations.
TSK: Thank you so much for your time.