By John King Tarpinian: Joe Hill is doing a book signing tour to promote his new book, The Fireman. (In the book he admits he stole the title from Ray Bradbury) This is my third encounter with Stephen’s boy, who has made quite a name for himself on his own. Joe’s pen name was chosen by him to distance himself from his dad so people would not think he was just “writing” on his father’s coattails, so to speak. Hill is a shortening of him mother’s maiden name, Hillcrest. Wednesday’s signing was in Pasadena, CA with Thursday’s being in San Diego.
My first encounter with him is at ComicCon 2009. I was part of Ray Bradbury’s entourage and another in our group noticed Joe across the hall. I went over to ask Joe if he wanted to say hello to Ray, not knowing he had never met Ray. My second encounter was when Joe talked at the ComicCon tribute to Ray after his passing. What I took from that as a child his dad would read The Halloween Tree to him and his siblings on Halloween.
The man is very personable, a delightful speaker that kept the audience fully entertained. He started his talk by giving a brief history of his literary works…as if the audience did not know. He then took a panorama picture of the audience that he posted on something called Twitter. (If you go to look I am the fat man wearing the suit.) Joe then read from his new book.
Among the things we learned is that he is working on a spec. script of Locke & Key for television. Just before the event he received a text telling him that The Fireman is entering the New York Times Bestseller list at #1. At that news the audience gave him another of many rounds of applause.
One of his guests for the evening was Canadian comic book illustrator, Kate Leth. She was constricted to participate with the kazoo band. Among her works is Adventure Time.
Joe selected three people in attendance, at semi-random; to receive custom made Fireman Kazoos and then lead the audience in renditions of “Hey Jude” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” After that, he held a Q&A until our hosts decided it was time to start the signing. The rules of the house were you could bring three things from home for each copy of The Fireman you purchased, more than fair.