The tale of an ancient child-killing creature who lives in the sewers under the haunted town of Derry, It (1,138 pages) is King’s kitchen-sink book. Evil clowns, giant spiders, walking eyeballs — the works.
King: I remember reading a lot of reviews at that time, and a lot of stuff about my work, [talking] about how I was a horror novelist and a horror writer. I would be asked, “What happened in your childhood that makes you want to write those terrible things?” I couldn’t think of any real answer to that. And I thought to myself, “Why don’t you write a final exam on horror, and put in all the monsters that everyone was afraid of as a kid? Put in Frankenstein, the werewolf, the vampire, the mummy, the giant creatures that ate up New York in the old B movies. Put ‘em all in there. And I thought, “How are you going to do that?” And I said, “Well, I’m going to do it like a fairy tale. I’m going to make up a town where these things happen and everybody ignores them.”
There came a time when I said to [my wife] Tabby, “I want to write this book, but we live in the country, and I want to write about a city, a whole haunted city, so we ought to move to either Portland or Bangor.” And we looked at both, and I knew right away that Bangor, if Tabby agreed, would be the right place to go, because it was this hard town that had a real history. So I went around town for one whole fall, and I asked people what they knew about various places that I wanted to incorporate into the book. And I would listen to the stories.
I didn’t care what the truth was, you see. I cared about what people believed. I cared about the stories that they handed down from generation to generation. And what I remember most clearly about that fall was walking through the two cemeteries in Bangor that are very picturesque, but you walk down the hill and you see all the rotten flowers that have swept down into the ditches. And they’re like three, four, five feet deep. The stink is awful. And I thought, “Yeah, I want to put this into the book too.”
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