The Travelin' Librarian Books Owen King and Joe Hill on Their New Novels, Sibling Rivalry, and Stephen King’s Shadow

Owen King and Joe Hill on Their New Novels, Sibling Rivalry, and Stephen King’s Shadow

Owen & JoeThis week, Joe Hill (born Joseph Hillstrom King) released his fourth book, a 700-page horror story called NOS4A2. In March, his brother, Owen King, published his first novel, Double Feature, about a young filmmaker grappling with disappointment after his first movie falls apart. The two books couldn’t be more different, but what their authors have in common, of course, is that their parents are Stephen and Tabitha King. Vulture spoke with the guys about their writing approaches, how they’ve learned to evade (and live with) their parents’ shadows, and who beat up whom as a kid.

Was there a lot of emphasis in your home on the value of stories?
 We’ve always been a family that cares very passionately about books. Our dinner conversation was literary conversation, about this writer or this publication. And after dinners, often we would have a family book we’d go and read together, we would pass the book around. Our framework for thought was built around writers and stories and literary content and scene-creation — so in that sense the trade, not so much the art, but the trade, was constant conversation.

Did you ever rebel by rejecting that family culture?
No, but I had a lot of stuff about changing my name.
OK: There was, like, three years in high school when everybody had to call you Ellis, right? Ellis Moriarty?
JH: Yeah. I remember that both my folks were a little bit concerned about that. I was thinking about not just using a pen name but legally changing my name. I was one of these kids who was really close to his dad, loved my dad, very emotionally tight, and yet at the same time I was very conscious that he was this huge, looming presence in the work of pop culture, and it’s very difficult to carve out a space. And I did have this idea about going into film or writing. I know Owen’s wrestled with this, and I know one of the ways Owen has dealt with it is by kind of taking a left-hand turn off the expressway and writing almost a completely different type of fiction.
OK: I mean, you want to be Stephen King’s son in your regular life, so where does your regular life meet your public life? It gets to be quite a knot.

Read the full interview @

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