ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Just over 50 years after Stephen King first set foot on the UMaine Orono campus, the famous author held an event to launch his latest book Tuesday night.
"Louie, Lenny and I entered the University of Maine in the year of the lava lamp and Sargeant Barry Sadler,” King read aloud to a packed house at the Collins Center for the Arts.
Unlike most of his famous horror novels, “Hearts in Suspension” is non-fiction—based on his experiences and the individuals who influenced him.
"I gave him a C+ on his first freshman comp paper,” editor of the book and King’s first English professor, Jim Bishop said.
King has been very open about how challenging it was for him to write the book centered on his years and UMO.
"There was a lot of heartache. There was a lot of pain. I wasn't sure I really wanted to revisit all that,” King said.
King referring to the tumultuous times, the start of a revolution and coming of age in the heat of war.
"Student activists were deemed rebel rousers and worse and some of them paid for their anti-war activism with their lives as we recall Kent State,” UMaine President Susan Hunter said at Tuesday night’s event.
King did not shy away from political commentary, comparing the current climate to that of the 1960s.
"In '16 we have Donald Trump and you'd like to think there was some sort of progress there,” King said. "I can't imagine anybody in 1968 possibly imagining that an African American man might become president of the United States or that he might be succeeded by a woman."
The book also features essays and anecdotes from Kings from 12 of King’s friends and mentors. Some of those friends joined him on stage to discuss the piece.
"Being in a movement like that transformed us,” Frank Kadi said.
All of them reflected on their anti-war efforts and the connections they made with one another.
"Stephen told the truth. and the truth is very hard to find in 1966. It was very difficult to find. We found it in one another."
All of the proceeds from book sales will go directly to University of Maine Press to pay for future publications.