I should backtrack for a moment. There is an important chapter in this story that I have not yet written about. In Part 6, I wrote about the Dark Night. And I don’t mean Batman. As you may recall from that section, one of the things that helped me get through those times was reading. There was something else that became an important distraction from the darkness. I am referring to TheDarkTower.org.
I feel something should be said about that forum, and the role its community of Stephen King fans and collectors played in this journey. I joined the site in April of 2014. As I look back, it was right bang in the middle of some of the darkest years of my life.
Several months before I joined, I came back to the book, and back to Stephen King. I have no memory of the search term I used that resulted in me finding the forum. At first, it was overwhelming, and I began observing as a ‘lurker’. After some time, I found the courage to register, and post my first comment. For a username, I chose my Hebrew name, Zelig. All in lowercase letters.
Over the next two years, I became very active on the forum. I discovered a thriving community of King fans and collectors all over the world, and it was in many ways a revelation for me. Up until that point, I was a collector, I was a fan, but in a very solitary way. I had never shared my interest with anyone. I collected alone, I shared nothing. There was no one to share anything with.
Then all of a sudden, here were members posting pictures of their books, and bookshelves. Discussing their passions in great detail, helping each other out, and sometimes, pissing each other off! But I could not help but get sucked into it all, and I made friends. I made good friends. It fueled my collecting like never before, and I spent way more money than I should have building my collection.
I ended up meeting some of the members in early 2015, when I somehow found the courage to get on a plane, and fly to Florida to see Stephen King for the release of Revival. I met a bunch of forum members there, and it was a great time.
The forum also proved to be fertile ground for what was to come, and I am very grateful for that. I am also grateful for the friends I have made.
Why am I spending time, using up all these words, telling you about this? The years between 2014 and 2016 were incubator years. I did one thing. One thing that shifted the set of my sail toward something entirely new. Something entirely life changing. The one thing I did was to decide, in January 2016, that I was going to rebind copies of The Eyes of the Dragon.
I forced myself to take a vacation. I drove up to Lake Arrowhead. I was sitting in the lounge off the lobby. It was raining. A confetti of raindrops were falling from the leaves of the pine and cedar trees beyond the bay windows. It was cold. There was a fire in the fireplace. A little dog was yapping, and I was looking at my computer screen. I sent an email to a bookbinder, and the rest has become history.
When I decided to share what I was doing on the forum, I was amazed by the response I received. I was very anxious around that time, and all the attention that was showered on me did not help my anxiety! But I discovered that I was loving what I was doing, rebinding these books. There was no money in doing it, but I didn’t care about that. I was just so happy that I found something that I enjoyed.
After The Eyes of the Dragon, there was Firestarter, and some time between these two rebound books, I realized something. Although I had complete creative control over the covers of these books, I had no control over the pages. All I was doing was rebinding a book that was published by another company. Although I was loving it, something was missing for me. I realized that what I really wanted was to be able to create the book block myself. To select the paper, to design the typography, and to choose the printing process.
The only way I could do that, was to become a publisher. I remember this being an instant ‘knowing’. I spent no time thinking about it. I just knew. And Suntup Editions was born.
But back to Misery.
When I said earlier that I was ‘all in’, believe me when I say, I was all in. There are certain details which are such that they should be saved for a later time. And I will save them for a later time. But having made the decision to pursue a signed edition of Misery, I dedicated my life to it. I spent every waking hour working on it, and I spent every last penny that I had. And when the pennies ran out, I spent every last dollar of credit.
That’s what all in means. No safety nets. No escape plan.
Then after several months of intense preparation, everything was set. All of the pieces were in play, and I headed out to New York.
I timed my trip to coincide with the Sleeping Beauties book tour. It was great seeing Stephen King on stage again, and this time with Owen King. I got to hang out with my forum buddies, and once again, we had a great time.
Over the next three weeks, in addition to meeting up with several of the artists from The Covers Collection, I also took care of Misery business. I was bouncing around across six different states, I was on the go all the time, and I was runnningg.
Everything was perfectly executed. I felt good about it. Really good about it. All that was left now was to wait for a decision.
On December 8, 2017 at 11:33am, I received an email that began with these words: “I’m awfully sorry to say…”
As I read through the rest of it, I felt the blood drain from my body. I don’t know where the blood went, but it went somewhere. Maybe it found it’s way into a rain cloud, waiting for the sound of thunder to release it onto a huddle of pine and cedar trees on a mountain somewhere.
I think if someone would have looked at me at that moment, they would have seen a ghost.
Photograph by Paul Suntup