Joe Hill talks Locke & Key

Joe Hill
Joe Hill

On a particularly rainy afternoon in central London, GeekChocolate sat down for a chat with author Joe Hill.  The son of world-famous author Stephen King, Joe also wrote the best-selling short story collection 20th Century Ghosts and the wildly successful Heart Shaped Box.  He is known in the comics world as the author of Locke And Key, a property which was optioned for a television adaptation by Fox but turned down for the new season.  Despite being at the end of a long morning of interviews, Hill was keen to talk to us about the show, and it’s (apparently strong) chances of airing in the future.

GC – You’re still working on Locke and Key?

JH – Yeah, Locke And Key is an ongoing comic that I’ve been writing now for three years.  No, it’s been a little longer than that; it’s been going on four, four-and-a-half years.  It’s been a while.  I have 10 issues left to write and then that series is done.

GC – Completely finished?

JH – Completely finished.  Although the world of Locke And Key is very big, and I have a great friend in my collaborator Gabriel Rodriguez, who draws the pictures, and I joke that Gabriel and I are like Unibrain.  He’s my brother, my long-lost brother.  He’s incredibly… he’s so funny and he just completes my ideas, we feed off each other.  It’s been the perfect collaboration; we have so much fun working with each other.  So we’re going to finish Locke And Key and we’re going to do some other comic projects together as well.

GC – And there was a TV adaptation…

JH – Yeah, the TV show, we have a pilot episode.  It’s scary, emotionally engaging, and Fox passed on it.  Essentially, Fox has slots for two or three slots for dramas and they have eight pilot episodes, so weren’t one of the ones they picked.  But you know, I think we still have a chance to get on the air.  Working on the comic, the comic is episodic fiction.  I read a lot of comics and I’m inspired by a lot of comic book writers, but I’ve also watched a few shows, you know?  Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, I read the comic of The Walking Dead as well, Dexter…these are all very scary, dark, bloody cable shows.  And I think that Locke And Key also has the chance to surface on cable.

GC – An AMC, HBO kind of thing?

JH – A few channels have expressed interest; one channel has expressed a lot more than interest.  Nothing is for certain, but I think that we have a fighting chance.  You know, I’ve said this to everyone who’s asked about the show, it’s a shame that we’re doing interviews today, because I’m somewhere between four and ten days away from knowing for sure.

GC – Oh really?

JH – Yeah, we’ll have things figured out for sure one way or the other in the next two weeks.

GC – Will you have to reshoot the pilot?

JH – No, a lot of cable channels work by taking shows that have come from, or were produced for ABC, NBC or Fox, or whatever.  These channels find their product that way, sometimes they produce their own stuff, but sometimes things are independently produced.

GC – And your idea for that, would it be sticking quite true to the ideas of the comics, or would it diverge?

Locke and Key
Locke and Key

JH – The pilot was very true to what’s in the comics.  I think that the plan has always been in a given 12 episodes, one out of every three or four would be a mythology episode.  And the mythology episode would be tightly based on one of the comics.


The other three episodes would be standalone stories, in the story, it’s about a family that moves to a house in Massachusetts, called Key House, and Key House is filled with wonderful keys.  Wonderful and unlikely keys, and each key has a separate power.  And I think the idea of the show is that on the non-mythology episodes, we’d explore a key.

The keys would work a little like the monsters in The X-Files.  I think that could be terrifically entertaining, we’ll see what happens.  I think that even if there isn’t a show then we have a fighting shot that the pilot will surface in some form.  We’ll see what happens.

GC – It was pitched as a film originally, wasn’t it?

JH – It was pitched as a film, but early in the conversations about it, everyone started to say that maybe this is a TV series instead.  And I advocated it for being a TV series, because my feeling was that in any movie you wouldn’t really have the chance to explore the keys, the way that you do in a TV show.  I just thought that something more episodic makes sense for Locke And Key.

GC – And there’s an option on Heart Shaped Box as well?

JH – There’s an option on Heart Shaped Box, and Horns, and also recently a short story of mine called Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead has been optioned.  I’m sure there are a few things out there.

Joe Hill’s second novel, Horns, is released through Gollancz in paperback on 2 June 2011
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