“Why does anyone want to read a story about being relentlessly hunted by an uncaring predator?” asks Joe Hill—who has a new collection of stories featuring characters being relentlessly hunted by uncaring predators. His answer? “We’ve evolved to imagine ourselves into these terrible scenarios and to even take pleasure in that—it’s a form of play for us. What would I do if I was on a motorcycle and a madman in a truck was trying to run me off the road?” 

The first story in Full Throttle (William Morrow, Oct. 1) explores how one group of bikers react when a relentless semi picks them off one by one. The collection also features the creatures of a hellish carousel chasing a group of teenagers. There’s a businessman on a British train who suddenly notices that he is surrounded by massive, bloodthirsty wolves and a ruthless hunter who goes on a trip that makes The Most Dangerous Game look tame by comparison. 

But the hunting isn’t always literal. Hill focuses more on a sense of peril, which he says is the only thing he really trusts. Several of the stories have no supernatural element whatsoever, but the sense that something is coming keeps the pages turning. “I always imagine you’re walking along the street, and you look up, and you see a man on a ledge 10 stories up, crawling on all fours to rescue a kitten,” says Hill. “That’s a scene no one looks away from. When I’m writing, I feel like my job is to get a guy out on a ledge. And when he gets to the kitten, it scratches him in the face.”

And yet, despite all that terror, supernatural and otherwise, Hill’s writing is never bleak. Hill says he owes readers “some ray of sunlight after all the darkness.” His writing is often humorous, and the collection includes an introduction and story notes at the end—bookending the terror with anecdotes of how he got into writing horror, how he got his ideas, and what it was like to collaborate with his father on two of the stories in Full Throttle

Hill’s father also happens to be a horror writer: Stephen King. Hill maintained his secret identity for several years after he started writing professionally, selling his debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box (2007), andthe stories that would eventually form his first collection, 20th Century Ghosts (2007), using the name Joe Hill instead of Joseph King. Hill describes what it’s like to write with King: “Ever see one of those Road Runner cartoons? I always feel like Wile E. Coyote strapped to the rocket, and my dad is the missile.” Hill shares many of his dad’s best storytelling traits—like that sense of humor—so their writing blends beautifully. One of the stories they wrote together for Full Throttle, “In the Tall Grass,” has been adapted into a movie that will stream on Netflix in early October. 

Though he isn’t immune to the immense pressure of his parentage, Hill cites his loving family dynamic and the support he’s found in the horror community as the reasons he’s been able to forge his own path in the genre. And, of course, the game of imagining all those terrible scenarios makes the writing itself enjoyable. It seems like a strange recommendation to call a horror collection “fun to read,” but Hill makes his work a pleasure. “Even when it’s hard it’s still play,” he says. “I like to dream up someone interesting and get them into trouble.” 

Chelsea Ennen is a writer living in Brooklyn.