The book, Joyland, is the story of college student Devin Jones, who goes to work as a carny in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973. There, he “confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.”
In a press release, King said, “I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”
King’s previous Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, became a national bestseller and inspired the television series “Haven,” now going into its third season on SyFy.
“Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book,” Hard Case Crime editor Ardai said in the release. “It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ ”
Ardai answered a few questions from Grift about the news:
Grift: What did King’s first book for Hard Case Crime do for the imprint in terms of exposure and perhaps demonstrating to the marketplace that there was legitimacy in this line?
CA: It’s impossible for me to overstate the impact and importance of The Colorado Kid on Hard Case Crime. Even though we’d done a dozen titles before that and earned good reviews, even won some awards, Steve’s generosity in letting us publish his book put Hard Case Crime on the map in a way we never were before. Millions of people heard about us who might otherwise never have because we published a book by Stephen King. We were the subject of a feature on CBS Sunday Morning because of that book. We were able to introduce readers to the work of forgotten writers from the pulp era and up-and-coming writers of the present day because of Steve’s book. It is no exaggeration to say that if it weren’t for that book, Hard Case Crime probably wouldn’t still be here today.
Has this been in the works long?
Depends on what you mean by ‘this.’ Steve and I have talked on and off for years about the idea of doing another book together, but this particular book came together pretty quickly. I first heard about JOYLAND in March or April, and here we are at the end of May.
How are things going for HCC these days, given that you have a new home, a new schedule, etc.?
Things are going very well. Titan Books, our new publisher, is a pleasure to work with, and they put out a wide range of gorgeous, exciting books that are a great complement to our line. The new, larger trade paperback format makes our cover art pop even more than it used to. We’ve got some really big books coming up, including the breathtaking 180,000-word first novel The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter and the lost James M. Cain novel, The Cocktail Waitress. And now Joyland. I pinch myself periodically, but haven’t woken up yet.