For a guy who says he doesn’t want people to know that Stephen King is his Dad, Joe Hill is making sure everybody knows it. From Publisher’s Weekly to yesterdays Los Angeles Times, he seems to be coming out everywhere as King’s s0n to promote his new book "Heart-Shaped Box." Publisher’s Weekly wrote:
Joe Hill, whose debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box, will be published by William Morrow in February 2007, is so intent on not trading on his father’s fame that he years ago stopped using his given name, Joseph Hillstrom King. And before setting up an interview with the author, Morrow publicist Seale Ballenger warned, "Joe really doesn’t want to talk about his relationship with Stephen King."
Fair enough. But in the battle to win attention for an emerging writer, it’s pretty hard to resist using such a potent weapon. So when Ballenger sent PW an e-mail stressing the importance of reviewing Hill’s book, he wrote, "This is a huge book for us (two-book deal and he is Stephen King’s son)."
Now he’s talking about it in interview after interview. The LA Times wrote:
Hill, 34, took on his secret identity to test his writing skills and marketability without having to trade on the family name.
"I really wanted to allow myself to rise and fall on my own merits," he said.
Apparently, that’s changed. But I don’t blame him or his publisher. Finding a promoteable angle for an author and his book is tough…so why shouldn’t he use the fact that he’s following in his Dad’s famous footsteps to get some attention? More power to him. What I find disingenuous, however, is that he keeps trying to maintain the notion that he’s not doing it…even while he’s doing it, over and over.