Joe Hill: Stories over the Storyteller

Posted on Apr 11, 2019

There are times when we don’t really choose the path that we want to take; sometimes, it chooses us instead—as if there’s some invisible force that keeps pulling us, whether we want it or not. That, it seems, is how writing was for the best-selling American author Joe Hill.

Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the son of famous and celebrated novelists Stephen King and Tabitha King, a fact that he hid from everyone the moment he started to publish his works. Living with an entire family of writers, Hill could still have chosen any other career path, but it just can’t be denied that the talent for writing runs in the family. His siblings, Naomi King and Owen King, also showed keen interest and exceptional skills in writing stories ever since they were young.

Joe Hill family

Hill started writing since when he was 12 years old, and just like his father (and pretty much everyone in the family), his imagination was always running wild. Even as a child, he wrote his stories every day, and hence, upon reaching high school, he had already written several full-length books.

At 16 years old, his training came in the form of writing a book and giving his father five pages of it every day. His training taught him that there is power in rewriting, and Hill has learned that from his father. From that point on, he and his father would talk about what he wrote and the improvements that he needed.

Upon deciding to become a full-time writer, success didn’t really come easy at first for Hill, as he also faced numerous rejections from several publishers. However, he had always seen failure as a greater motivation to succeed in the career path that he chose.

Although he came from an entire family of writers, Hill chose to start his writing career from scratch, even hiding his family background to secure his own spot in the bestseller list without anyone helping him out.

This plan was well-executed, and even though no one knew where he came from or who he really was, it didn’t take that long until Hill got recognized for his craft. His first work entitled “20th Century Ghosts” was published in 2005, and it 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.”

Speculations about Hill’s family background circulated online since 2005, but it was only in 2007 when he finally revealed his identity, after an article the previous year in Variety broke his cover. At that point, though, it didn’t matter too much whether anyone knew about his family since he had already been recognized for his writing skills and has gained a lot of fans and readers anticipating his next work.

Hill has always believed that “it’s in the story, not the storyteller.” He was glad that people were buying his books for the right reasons: because the story was good, and not because of his family background. He continued to publish novels and short stories, and his most known work perhaps is the novel Horns, which made its way to the screens in the year 2013, starring the ultimate superstar Daniel Radcliffe.


Published in 2010, Horns is a dark fantasy novel that also incorporates elements of contemporary fantasy, crime fiction, and Gothic fiction. The story revolves around the 26-year-old Ignatius “Ig” Perrish, who wakes up one morning only to find a pair of bony and sensitive horns has sprouted from his temples. What follows is a series of dark fantasy and paranormal situations as Ig tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder of his girlfriend that has long been linked to himself.

Though Horns was one of Hill’s most successful work, it was said to be written after a difficult period in Hill’s life. It was written when he was having a mental breakdown and just after his divorce to his wife.

Now, however, he lives alone in New Hampshire, seeing his three kids every weekend. As for his future works, his fans can anticipate the live-action Netflix series of “Locke and Key,” as filming will begin the fall of 2019. The novel In the Tall Grass, cowritten by his father, will also be released as a Netflix Original in 2019.

Disclaimer: Images are not ours. Credit to the owner.

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