Joseph Hillstrom King (born June 4, 1972), better known by the pen name Joe Hill, is an American author and comic book writer. His work includes the novels Heart-Shaped Box (2007), Gunpowder (2008), Horns (2010), NOS4A2 (2013), and The Fireman (2016); the short story collections 20th Century Ghosts (2005), Tales From The Darkside (2016) and Strange Weather (2017); and the comic book series The Cape (2011) with 2 sequels: The Cape 1969 (2012) and The Cape: Fallen (2018), Road Rage (2012), Thumbprint (2013), Wraith (2014), Tales From The Darkside (2016) and Locke & Key (2008–2013). Locke & Key won British Fantasy Awards in 2009 and 2012, and an Eisner Award in 2012.
King is the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King. He was born in Hermon, Maine and grew up in Bangor, Maine.
At age 9, Hill appeared in the 1982 film Creepshow, directed by George A. Romero, which co-starred and was written by his father.
Hill chose to use an abbreviated form of his given name (a reference to executed labor leader Joe Hill, for whom he was named) in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of Stephen King, one of the world’s best-selling and most-recognized living novelists. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007 after an article the previous year in Variety broke his cover (although online speculation about Hill’s family background had been appearing since 2005).
Hill is a recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. He has also received the William L. Crawford award for best new fantasy writer in 2006, the A. E. Coppard Long Fiction Prize in 1999 for “Better Than Home” and the 2006 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella for “Voluntary Committal”. His stories have appeared in a variety of magazines, such as “Subterranean Magazine”, “Postscripts” and “The High Plains Literary Review”, and in many anthologies, including “The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror” (ed. Stephen Jones) and “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” (ed. Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin Grant).
Hill’s first book, the limited edition collection 20th Century Ghosts (published in 2005 by PS Publishing), showcases fourteen of his short stories and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, together with the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story for “Best New Horror”. In October 2007, Hill’s mainstream US and UK publishers reprinted 20th Century Ghosts, without the extras published in the 2005 slipcased versions, but including one new story.
Hill’s first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins on February 13, 2007 and by Victor Gollancz Ltd in UK in March 2007. The novel reached number eight on the “New York Times” bestseller list on April 1, 2007.
When he began writing, Hill was well aware of the inevitable comparisons that would arise between his own work and that of his father, Stephen King, with the name “King” being synonymous with horror fiction. Stephen King had himself used a pen-name, Richard Bachman, after he had become well-established, explaining later in the short essay, “Why I Was Bachman” that he felt he had to know whether he could “re-achieve” success as an author purely through the quality of his writing, as opposed to what perceived as the “brand” that had become established through his own name. Joseph King chose to take the same approach; although many readers (and most reviewers) are now aware of the connection, his fiction has been widely praised, and many critics have stressed their own objectivity and lack of preconceptions when reviewing his works.
On September 23, 2007, at the thirty-first Fantasycon, the British Fantasy Society awarded Hill the first ever Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award. Hill’s first professional sale was in 1997.
Among unpublished works is one partly completed with his father, “But Only Darkness Loves Me”, which is held with the Stephen King papers at the Special Collections Unit of the Raymond H Fogler Library at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.
Hill is also the author of Locke & Key, a comic book series published by IDW Publishing. The first issue, released on February 20, 2008, sold out of its initial publication run in one day. A collection of the series in limited form from Subterranean Press sold out within 24 hours of being announced.
Hill’s second novel, Horns, was published on February 16, 2010. A film based on the novel was released in 2014.
NOS4A2, his third novel, was published on April 30, 2013. The novel peaked at number five on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Hill’s fourth novel called The Fireman was released on May 17, 2016. It entered the New York Times Best Seller list at number one, making it his highest ranked novel.
In 2018 a collection of 4 short novelles was released, Strange Weather.
Horns was made into a movie in 2013 by director Alexandre Aja with Daniel Radcliffe as Ig and Juno Temple as Merrin.
And in 2019 In The Tall Grass, co-written with his dad, will be released as a Netflix Original. Filming for the Locke & Key TV-series, also by Netflix, will begin in the fall of 2019. AMC is working on a TV-series of NOS4A2.
As announced by Shudder, the upcoming series reboot of Creepshow will contain an adaptation of Hill’s short story “By the Silvery Waters of Lake Champlain”. The series will air sometime in 2019.
Following DC Comics’s announcement in June 2019 that it would suspend publication of its imprint, Vertigo Comics, it was announced that Hill would oversee and share the writing for a new horror line, Hill House Comics. Hill started talking about the Hill House line in 2017 with editor Mark Doyle. The line was originally titled Vertigo Fall, and then it was Joe Hill’s Vertigo Fall. Eventually they landed on Hill House Comics.