For author Joe Hill, horror is in his blood

Lawrie Photography

Joe Hill dropped his last name when he began his writing career to see if he could succeed based on his own talent, not because his father is Stephen King. He could and did. The bestselling author’s newest is “Full Throttle,” a collection of 13 sinister tales, two of which he wrote with his dad. Hill lives in New Hampshire with his wife.

BOOKS: What is your favorite kind of book?

HILL: The ones my wife and I read to each other, no matter the genre. I read to her while she does puzzles, and she reads to me while I drive. Sometimes when I’m reading I will begin to make stuff up and see how long before she catches me. I was reading her Anthony Horowitz’s mystery “Moriarty,” and there’s a sudden twist near the end. When I read it she threw down her puzzle pieces and said, “That’s a damned lie.” I had to show it to her.


BOOKS: What are you reading together now?

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HILL:The Institute,” by a guy who is really good. I’m going to go to the bookstore and see if he’s written anything else.

BOOKS: Speaking of your father, what are your favorites by him?

HILL: In high school and college I fell in love with “The Dead Zone.” I’ve read that more than any other book, maybe ten times, but I also think some of his stuff in the last decade has been explosively great, like “Under the Dome” or “11/22/63.”

BOOKS: What have you been reading on your own?


HILL: I loved Susan Orlean’s “The Library Book,” which is eccentric. It is also true crime, and I’m a true crime junky. Also “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo. It imagines Yale as a place like Hogwarts.

BOOKS: Who are your go-to authors for horror or thrillers other than your dad?

HILL: In the last two decades Neil Gaiman has done the most interesting work in dark fantasy and horror. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is 200 pages of black-hearted perfection.

BOOKS: Have you ever had to quit reading a book because it scared you?

HILL: In “The Hot Zone,” Richard Preston’s book about ebola, there was one section that gave me uneasy sleep for a good week. Sarah Waters’s novel “The Little Stranger,” which is about a haunted house, gave me dreams about being lost in dusty, abandoned mansions.


BOOKS: Have you changed as a reader?

HILL: Over the last two years I’ve gotten in touch with how much I enjoy historical fiction, like Patrick O’Brian’s sea-faring novels and Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and its brick-heavy sequels. We live in a distressing moment when we can’t seem to even agree on what is a fact. It helps me to know that there have often been moments in the past like this. But sometimes I just want to read about cowboys gunning down bad guys. I grew up reading Larry McMurtry.

BOOKS: What was it like to grow up with writers for parents?

HILL: It was books all the time. The dinner conversation was always what we were reading. We would sit in the living room, pass a book around and read aloud to each other. That sounds awfully Victorian, but there wasn’t much else to do. Nobody had a phone in their pockets. There were no streaming channels.

BOOKS: What other kind of books do you read?

HILL: I read a lot of comic books. This is a great time for the art form. You have people like Brian K. Vaughan who wrote “We Stand on Guard” and “Saga,” two of the best things done in science fiction in this century. Kelly SueDeConnick, who writes “Pretty Deadly” and “Bitch Planet,” is doing wild feminist science fiction and dark fantasy.

BOOKS: Have you kept your comic books over the years?

HILL: I’ve got four or five long boxes of comic books and several shelves of graphic novels. My brother and I have 14 long boxes of comics we collected in high school and college but we can’t agree on who bought what. Each time we try to divide the collection, Owen will say to me, “I get Sandman and you can have Godzilla.” I’m like, “WHAT? That’s not right.”

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @GlobeBiblio. Amy Sutherland is the author, most recently, of “Rescuing Penny Jane’’ and she can be reached at