How do you approach a career in horror when your dad is the most famous horror writer on Earth? That was the issue facing Joseph Hillstrom King, who feared that publishers would print anything he wrote just to cash in on his last name. So he chose to write under a pseudonym, Joe Hill, and was able to keep his identity secret for over a decade.
I had a powerful weapon on my side, and that weapon was failure,” says Joe Hill in this week’s episode of Wired’s Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast. “It was really easy to stay anonymous when I could barely get published.”
Much of Hill’s early work was rejected by publishers, including several novels and dozens of stories, which he sees as the pseudonym doing its job. He did eventually break through with the short story collection 20th-Century Ghosts and the novels Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, and is now widely acknowledged as a leading horror author. He’s also come to accept that people will inevitably compare him to his dad. His latest novel NOS4A2 (“Nosferatu”) is peppered with Stephen King references.
“At a certain point, working on NOS4A2, I thought, maybe I’d like to have fun with it,” says Hill. “Instead of shying away from it and avoiding it like a dangerous infection, maybe it would be fun to goof on Stephen King a bit.”
Listen to Wired’s complete interview with Joe Hill in Episode 85 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy HERE.