Stephen King's son on writing, psychopaths and expectations
Novelist Joe Hill tells David Clack why it is his goal to write like a psychopath.
Let’s get this out of the way nice and early – Joe Hill is the son of horror fiction powerhouse Stephen King. But there’s a lot more to the 40-year-old novelist than spooky genes – his second novel Horns is being turned into a Daniel Radcliffe-starring blockbuster as we speak and follow-up NOS-4R2 has just been released to a flurry of praise. Precisely none of which has come from teenage girls.
Do you find being compared to your dad a problem? You look at our dad and he’s a man who’s put together an astonishing body of work and I think that both my brother and I have an awareness of being judged against him. Someone may buy your first book because you have a famous daddy, but if it’s no good they won’t buy the second one.
Have you managed to get a glimpse of Doctor Sleep, your dad’s follow-up to The Shining? To be honest, I particularly avoided reading Doctor Sleep. Some of that story is set in Colorado, some of my story is set in Colorado, my book has a thematic concern with vampirism. I do read my dad’s work, but I try not to overdose, because I’m always worried about my own voice slipping away.
Does it hurt to have to throw away so much material, involving so many hours of work? I cut without any feeling whatsoever; it doesn’t bother me at all. There was a thing someone once said about Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that it wasn’t just a movie about a madman, it was a movie that felt like it had been directed by a madman. And that’s always been my highest goal, to write novels that maybe feel like they were written by a psychopath.
What scared you most as a child? I was a very nervous kid. We lived on a lake, and I’d go for swims in the summer and would shut my eyes and try to imagine the shark from Jaws coming up beneath me. But strangely that didn’t make me want to swim any less; it made me want to swim faster.
What about these days? People putting my book down 50 pages in and going to look at funny cat videos on YouTube. That’s pretty scary. NOS-4R2 is available on www.amazon.com. Horns will be released in October.