I had a really enjoyable time at Joe Hill's reading/signing session at Manchester Waterstones last night. Joe kicked off by telling an amusing story about his recent visit to the mall where the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed, using a plastic severed hand to very good effect (and much laughter). Next he donned a pair of plastic horns and read the first two chapters from his novel Horns, pressing a button to make the horns flash in warning whenever he got to a sentence containing an expletive (for reasons he had explained earlier, again to much amusement).
It was in the subsequent Q&A session that Joe's personality and love for the speculative genres really came across. Naturally many of the questions were linked to his family (did your dad give you any advice, did you want to be a writer because of your dad, etc) but Joe fielded these questions with good grace (even though he must have answered these questions a million times before, and the constant reference to his family must annoy him at times).
Most interesting was his revelation that he decided early on to deliberately drop his famous surname and to forge a career on his own terms, rather than relying on his father's influence (contrary to rumours in some quarters, Gollancz had no idea who Hill really was when they bought his first novel, Heart-Shaped Box). Joe explained that this decision was largely because he felt - quite understandably - that his parentage would distort publishers' opinions of his own work; he wanted a publisher to publish his book based on its own merits, rather than because they could market it as the debut novel by the son of a famous author.
It's a decision that Joe deserves a lot of credit for, and it's good to see that it proved the right decision: Joe did get published, and is now a New York Times bestselling author. He's also a very amusing guy, full of witty retorts and entertaining stories. If you get the chance to go along to one of his readings, then I recommend you do so.
Speculative Horizons is a UK-based blog dedicated to discovering the best in speculative fiction. Here you'll find book reviews, author interviews, artwork for upcoming releases, and commentary on all aspects of the genre.
A child of the eighties, I was raised on a steady diet of Ghostbusters, Thundercats and Transformers. I eventually discovered fantasy books via the awesome Fighting Fantasy series, and my love of fantasy led me to create Speculative Horizons, a popular book review blog I ran for three years. In 2010 I joined Orbit to work as an editorial assistant.