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Becoming a famous bestselling author is no easy feat, but you know what’s just as or perhaps even more difficult? Being the child of a famous writer and trying to establish yourself separate from your famous parent. Some writer children have actually gone by different names, some started out co-writing or continuing their parent's work, and others took more unconventional routes to success.


Joe Hill, creator of the comic book series Locke & Key (now in its second season on Netflix), NOS4A2 (ran for 2 seasons on AMC), and numerous other novels is the son of master of horror Stephen King, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that King’s wife Tabitha and other son Owen are also writers. While Owen not as well-known as his famous father and sibling, he’s finding success in print and in television.


Hill (whose actual name is Joseph Hillstrom King), decided to change his name because he wanted to succeed on his own merits and not by riding his father’s fame. Although the cat is out of the bag now, by the time Variety reported his identity around 2006, he was already making it, and now he can boast being a Bram Stoker and Eisner Award-winner, a New York Times bestselling author, and several other credits. 


Having been a Stephen King fan since I was 11, I naturally questioned Hill’s talent, but I enjoyed the novel and TV adaptation of NOS4A2, and am excitedly binging my way through the second season of Locke & Key. IDW plans to publish a prequel collection of stories about the Locke family ancestors in March 2022, and I look forward to checking it out! 


Another author who clearly inherited the writing gene from her parent is Emma Straub. She's the daughter of horror/suspense novelist Peter Straub, and author of several novels including the 2020 bestseller All Adults Here which I really enjoyed. Unlike her father however, Straub does not write horror novels, but writes domestic fiction and she’s perfectly fine with that. Her stories are funny, true to life, and highly insightful, and they appeal to a different audience than her father’s books. Interestingly, in Straub’s case, growing up with a famous writer father definitely did not give her a leg up, and the first four novels that she wrote got rejected by virtually every publisher she tried. She gets the last laugh though, and her 8th novel This Time Tomorrow is scheduled for release in May 2022. 


Carol Higgins Clark, actress and author of the Regan Reilly series, inherited her mother Mary Higgins Clark’s talent for suspense writing, and even co-authored a number of Christmas suspense stories and novels with her mom. By the time Carol entered college, she was learning the craft by assisting her mother with her books, and event\ually progressed to writing mysteries of her own. While the elder Clark was known as the “Queen of Suspense”, the younger Clark is known for taking a lighter, and more humorous tone in her work. I’ve never read any of her solo work, but if you enjoyed her mom’s books she’s worth reading. Mary Higgins Clark passed away in 2020, but her final book Where are the Children Now (a sequel to Where are the Children) co-written with Alafair Burke is scheduled for a spring 2023 release.  


When you come from a family of writers, and your mom was the famous author of one of the most popular vampire book series of all time, it seems only natural that you either become a writer or run far away. In the case of Christopher Rice, son of bestselling author Anne Rice, he chose the former. He published his first novel Destiny of Souls at age 22, won a Lambda award for his second novel The Snow Garden, and collaborated with his mother on the second and forthcoming third books in the Ramses the Damned series. His novels range from supernatural to suspense, and his newest novel Decimate is scheduled for release in May 2022.


Roy Johansen, son of Iris Johansen can seemingly do it all. He won an Edgar award and a Spielberg writing competition in college for his first screenplay Murder 101 (which incidentally was produced as a cable film with Pierce Brosnan), he collaborated with Stan Lee to create the superhero The Accuser, co-writes the Kendra Michaels series with his mother, and has his own thriller Killer View releasing in February, 2022, featuring private eye Jessie Mercado, a character from the Kendra Michaels books.


In a Q&A with Mystery & Suspense Magazine, Johansen explained that while the character has already appeared in three Kendra books, it was time to give Jessie his own story. The book is listed as a standalone, don’t be surprised if more Jesse novels follow sometime in the future.


While a Google search and Twitter inquiry turned up numerous other results of famous writing spouses, siblings, and parent/child combos, I’ll end with a brief mention of two sons carrying on popular series started by their fathers. Dirk Cussler, son of the late Clive Cussler started co-writing the Dirk Pitt Adventure novels with his father back in 2004, and also happens to be the namesake for the series.


Brian Herbert, son of the late Frank Herbert co-wrote the final two books in the

 blockbuster Dune series (partially based on his father’s notes) with author Kevin J. Anderson, and has also collaborated with the author on several prequel novels. I should mention that Herbert has written a number of other stand-alone novels as well, but I’m sure he’ll be forever remembered for his contributions to Dune.


And last but not least, Alafair Burke, a law professor at Hofstra University, followed in the footseps of  her crime novelist father James Lee Burke ,and writes crime fiction loosely based on true crime stories. She's also notable for being the first person of colour (her mother was a refugee from China) to be elected as the president of Mystery Writers of America. Her latest novel Find Me released in January 2022. 


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Happy Reading!


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