I remember back in 1991, I was a freshman student at Longwood College (now known as Longwood University). A new movie by Stephen King had come out in late November of 1990. It was titled Misery, and it starred Kathy Bates and James Caan in the primary roles, with support from Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall, and Frances Sternhagen. My good friend, Chris, who was a fellow English major and writing enthusiast, told me about the film. Chris and I both liked to write fiction, and the story was about an obsessed fan who held a novelist captive in her home, forcing him to write to her specifications. It was very compelling to us.
I’m pretty sure that we saw the movie together at some point, but I don’t remember when, or how. At one point, Chris worked at a video store in Farmville, the town where our school was. Maybe he brought the movie home one night and invited me over to watch it. Or maybe he just told me about it, and I watched it on HBO. In any case, the point is that it resonated. We used to make jokes about the movie, especially Kathy Bates’ character, frumpy Annie Wilkes, who just happened to be a very skilled nurse with a screw loose. I remember laughing about how Annie called James Caan’s character, novelist Paul Sheldon, a “dirty bird”, and referred to him as “Mister Man.” All the while, Paul tried to keep his cool and appease his captor, in the hope that on some day he might escape her clutches and reclaim his life.
As 18 year old writers who aspired to be “famous” someday– remember were 18 years old, and still had our whole lives ahead of us— Misery was a story that pointed to the potential pitfalls of fame. In the film, novelist Paul Sheldon, who had created the Victorian romance heroine Misery Chastain, and made a huge name for himself, found himself in a real bind when he was in a serious car accident during a blizzard in rural Colorado.
At first, Annie Wilkes is Paul’s savior. She’s a highly skilled nurse, capable of saving Paul’s life and providing him comfort. But she’s also deranged and angry, and she has an unhealthy obsession with Misery, and the man who created her. The movie has some comic elements to it, and is genuinely entertaining. But, as it’s a Stephen King story, it’s also horrifying! There are parts of that movie that I can barely stand to watch, even though parts of it are almost cartoonish.
Well… I was reminded of Misery yesterday, as I read tweets by Ex, who is a big fan of a certain novelist. By and large, I don’t read novels myself, so I don’t know this writer’s work at all. But Bill knew who she was, and he said that when they were married, Ex was a huge fan of the writer’s. And Ex, who spends a lot of time on Twitter, tweeting celebrities with thinly veiled requests for money, had contacted this writer with a “proposition”. Someone had asked the writer if she had published a new book yet. The author wrote that she had “barely begun writing” her newest book. And Ex, in true “Annie Wilkes” style, tweeted this:
…I have a proposition… I’ll come over, you can tell me the story in true storyteller form. We will record it, digitize it, have it auto printed out and then you can have some meat on paper to play with and edit! What do you think?? I have ‘granbairns’ in Arizona to visit!
The author, to her great credit, responded very graciously. Perhaps she’s seen Misery, too. She wrote this:
A generous offer! I’m afraid I don’t write “in true storyteller fashion”, though. I don’t write with an outline, I don’t write in a straight line, and I have only the vaguest notion of things that might happen.
Again, I don’t read many novels anymore, so I haven’t read any of this person’s books. It looks like she’s very popular, though, as others were posting on the thread. She’s probably had to deal with more than one “Annie Wilkes” in her career. Before anyone comes at me, allow me to state that I wouldn’t necessarily think this about Ex if I didn’t know her, or about the things she’s done. I do think it’s an odd offer to make to an author, especially since I’m pretty certain she was being totally serious. She does have grandchildren in Arizona, too, so if the writer had taken her up on her offer, it would be an excuse for Ex to go bug former stepson and his wife.
Anyway, Ex responded with more over-the-top ego stroking and praise, which may or may not be sincere. Ex often tries to seem like a really good and interesting person, but sometimes she goes so far that she comes off as totally fake and a little screwy. She wrote, complete with emojis and Scottish flags:
Hmm…given that, I now have hope that my stories will make it to print. The method you enjoy…works! Please, just keep doing it; you create lives, no small feat! Remember me, though; it would be a delight to collaborate. I’m a Fraser du Lovat, by the way, & that’s fun!!
Lately, Ex has been claiming to be a member of a prominent Scottish clan. I have no idea if her claims are legitimate. What I do know about her is that she was adopted, and had a genuinely horrifying childhood. She’s supposedly met her birth parents, or met one of her parents, who explained that she had been the product of an extramarital affair. If that story is the truth, I don’t know how, under those circumstances, Ex would find out about her supposed ties to famous Scottish families. But hell, maybe she’s being honest. Or maybe not. Maybe telling herself she has noble family ties makes her feel better about herself. If it means she’s kinder to the people in her life, I’m all for it. My issue with her, though, is that she’s done a lot of real damage to people, to include my husband, who was her second husband. If she was just a little batty and eccentric, I could easily and happily ignore her. But I know firsthand that she can do serious harm to people when she puts her mind to it.
Well, I doubt the author she’s tweeting is in any serious danger. Ex is nutty, but she’s not THAT nutty. Or, at least I hope not. I don’t want to read a news story about an obsessed fan from New England going all “Annie Wilkes” on a novelist out west. But, at least at this point, Ex seems most likely to harm her husbands and exes, than she is other folks. This writer is someone she clearly admires, though. It’s a little creepy to see her boldly offering her “services” in this way. I hope Ex never calls that author a “dirty birdie”. Maybe that’s an occupational hazard of being a famous writer… it’s probably safest to stick to being an unpopular blogger.
6 thoughts on “Going full on Annie Wilkes…”
I have – somewhere – the 1980s paperback edition of Misery. I haven’t read it in a long time; in my old house, most of my Stephen King paperbacks were placed on a hard-to-reach shelf in my closet. They were not IMPOSSIBLE to reach, but they weren’t exactly easy to get to, either. I read King’s novel (which I think is good) a few times before it got consigned to the Shelf in the Closet.
I also have the movie version, which was written by William Goldman, the same screenwriter who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, A Bridge Too Far, All the President’s Men, and the cult classic, The Princess Bride. (Interestingly, Rob Reiner, who directed that last-mentioned movie, also directed Misery.)
Man, Bill’s ex is a piece of work! And that writer that she’s a “Number One fan” of was certainly graceful in her reply to Ex’s weird proposal to collaborate on a story.
She’s always angling for something… money, fame, excitement, prestige.
I hope Stephen King is following because this could be the makings of another good obsessed fan novel. Also, isn’t it widely known that modern technology provides voice to text user ware to accomplish the same goal?
I’m sure the author doesn’t need help from Ex. I was very impressed by the author’s graceful declining of Ex’s services.
She could definitely star in Misery 2. Incidentally, I remember her recently referring to some artist as “Mister Man.” Yikes!
It’s beyond fathomable to me that ex would seriously believe that the assistance she offered would in any way be helpful to the author. Ex possesses gall in abundance.
Yes…. Especially since she has a “severely autistic son” who does need her help. Or so she repeatedly tells us.