It’s difficult to refrain from making “King of the Hill” gags when one knows that author Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King. Name games aside, the New York Times bestselling author will be at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma tonight, promoting his latest release, The Fireman, which explores what happens when a pandemic breaks out that marks its human hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies, you know, before causing them to burst into flames.

Born Joseph Hillstrom King but better known by his pen name, Hill is also the author of Heart-Shaped Box,Horns, and NOS4A2, as well as author of the comic book series Locke & Key. His appearance at Coppferfield’s Books is part of the local booksellers’ “Brave New Worlds Series,” which hosts emerging and established sci-fi, speculative fiction, horror, and fantasy authors in its intimate bookstore setting. That said, Hill’s appearance promises to be a well-attended event. Even with the risk of spontaneous combustion.

Fortunately, at least in the world of Hill’s novel, a band of unlikely heroes is battling to save the world from flaming out – led by the enigmatic titular figure known simply as The Fireman.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

 

“A tremendous, heart-rending epic of bravery and love set in a fully realized and terrifying apocalyptic world, where hope lies in the simplest of gestures and the fullest of hearts,” gushes Publishers Weekly.

Hill’s pitstop bodes well for the Petaluma bookstore’s series – in the very least, it will move some books, which beats selling propane and propane accessories…

Author Joe Hill will read from The Fireman at 7 p.m., Friday, May 27 at Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma.