In my last post, I mentioned that I had abandoned Stephen King’s latest novel, Lisey’s Story, for a debut novel, The Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill.
I received this comment from Robin in Texas:
“Patrick, did you know that Joe Hill is Stephen Kings son? I saw him on [Good Morning America] last week. How funny that you set aside a book by the father and chose, perhaps unknowingly, to read one written by his son.”
I did miss the interview: I’m a Today man, myself. But I do think it’s ironic, and I immediately began wondering why I didn’t know that Hill is King’s son. I immediately looked at Joe Hill’s website. I couldn’t find any mention of the famous father there. Then I looked in the next-most obvious place: the book jacket from the novel:
“A multiple award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrill and acid terror.”Joe Hill is the author of the acclaimed story collection 20th Century Ghosts. He lives in New England.”
Even John Scalzi’s recent author interview with Hill makes no mention of Stephen King.
So now maybe the question is no longer, “Why didn’t I know,” but now, “How could I have known?”
That leads me to another question: if you’re a debut novelist and your father happens to be one of the most popular novelists in the world, would you hide that fact? Would you assume from the start that everyone already knew? Do you think it would come up in conversation, at least in the first interviews you did? Wouldn’t you make mention of it on your website? And wouldn’t you think your publisher would be sure to mention it as a selling point in terms of one writer’s work being influenced by such a prolific one?
Not that it wouldn’t cause pressure for the debut novelist. But I would think that pressure would always be there, anyway, even if the world didn’t know who the father happened to be.
I just find it odd that it seems the fact is being either ignored or hidden.
By the way, I am enjoying Heart-Shaped Box so far. I don’t think I’ll be setting it aside because of a lot of inside, meaningless lingo.