Within the enormous number of books that Stephen King has written (and still does not stop writing), there are not many that have the iconic power of ‘IT’. Especially, its impact on popular culture exploded when Pennywise the clown was performed by Tim Curry in the television mini-series 1990. This new figure of the bogeyman has frequented the nightmares of children and adults until the premiere of the latest version of the myth.
The book was first published in 1986 and its more than 1,500 pages are a compendium of its author’s obsessions. But where does the germ that began the creation of such a pharaonic text come from? It is not an answer that can be answered in two lines. To find the elements that made up the main idea, you have to make a quadrant of factors that came together and they bounced on a matrix of ideas and passions, experiences and desires to put them on paper.
The inspiration, the beginning of everything, appeared in a bridge. The idea of the book had already been in my head for almost ten years before it was published, in 1978. In those days King and his family lived in Boulder, Colorado. According to King himself on his official website stephenking.com:
“One day returning from lunch at a pizzeria emporium, our brand new AMC Matador dropped its transmission, literally. The damn thing fell off on Pearl Street with the resulting embarrassment, as we were left standing in the middle of a downtown street all the way up. , smiling idiotically while people looked at what was happening to the car stuck with that big puddle of something black and greasy under it.”
“Two days later, the dealer called around five in the afternoon. I could pick up the car at any time. The shop was three miles away. I thought about calling a taxi but decided the ride would be good for me. The The AMC dealership was in an industrial park on an otherwise deserted patch of land that was about a mile from the row of fast food joints and gas stations that mark the eastern edge of Boulder. lights led to that area.” “When I reached the road it was dusk, in the mountains on the horizon the end of the day was hurrying and I was aware of how alone I was. About a quarter of a mile from the road there was a wooden bridge, humped and strangely picturesque, spanning a stream. I walked through it. I was wearing cowboy boots with worn-out heels, and I was very aware of the sound they usually made on the boards. It was a sound like a hollow clock. I thought immediately of the fairy tale called ‘Three Billy-Goats Gruff’.
The tale of the three male goats
The story he refers to is a famous fairy tale Norwegian with three sister goats trying to cross a bridge. The area where they live has been left without pastures so they must cross a river to reach a farm in the hills but the only way to cross is over a bridge that is guarded by a creepy troll that eats everyone who passes by. The youngest goat, unaware that a troll exists, crosses the bridge and is threatened by the monster.
But the little girl gets a reprieve when she tells the troll that her brothers are bigger and meatier. The middle goat sees that the young girl has crossed and she comes to the conclusion that the bridge must be safe but when she crosses, her hungry being stops her, she also tells her that her older brother is tastier. . When the oldest tries to cross, the troll jumps to capture it but he is gored and thrown into the river. From that moment on, the bridge is no longer in danger and the goats can move to graze without fear.
“As I passed by, I wondered what I would do if a troll shouted from beneath me, ‘Who’s passing over my bridge?’ and suddenly I wanted to write a novel about a real troll under a real bridge. I stopped, thinking of a line from Marianne Moore, something about “real toads in imaginary gardens”, only it came out “real trolls in imaginary gardens”. A good idea is like a yo-yo, it can reach the end of its cord, but it never dies there, it just sleeps “It always rolls up and ends up in the palm of your hand. I forgot about the bridge and the troll while I was picking up the car and signing the papers, but the idea would come back to me from time to time over the next two years.”
The Bridge to adulthood
When enough time had passed, King managed to rescue that hidden idea. He thought of the bridge as a metaphor and continued to pull the thread, twisting it again over the frame of a horror novel that also served as a container for memories.
“I decided that the bridge could be some kind of symbol, a crossing point. I started thinking about Bangor, where I had lived, with its strange canal dividing the city, and I thought the bridge could be the city itself. If there was something underneath, What’s under a city? Tunnels. Sewers Ah! What a good place for a troll! Trolls must live in sewers! A year passed. The yo-yo stayed at the end of his rope, sleeping , and then it went up again. I began to remember Stratford, Connecticut, where I had lived for a time as a child.” “In Stratford there was a library where the adult section and the children’s section were connected by a short corridor. The corridor was also a bridge, one across which each little goat had to risk being caught on the journey to become a adult. About six months later, I thought about what such a story might be like, how it might be possible to create a rebound effect, weaving together the stories of the children and the adults they become. Sometime in the summer of 1981 I “I realized I had to write about the troll under the bridge or leave ‘IT’ forever.”
This “official” idea that the writer explains almost like a passage from one of his novels clashes or is complemented by later statements of the author. In a November 2013 video, shot for a fan club by Nicole Schröder in Hamburg, King acknowledges that:
“It occurred to me when I was in Colorado that I wanted to write a really long book that had all the monsters in it. I thought that if people thought I was a horror writer, which I’ve never considered myself, I’d get all the monsters together as possible. I’m going to catch a vampire, the werewolf, and even the mummy. The mummy has never really scared me because if the mummy comes you run away for a walk. It’s not a terribly scary monster, but “It had to be there because it’s one of the classics.”
“At that moment I thought it must be something that brings everything together, something horrible, unpleasant, rude, a creature that you don’t want to see and that makes you scream just by seeing it. Then I asked myself, What scares children the most? What to anything in the world? And the answer was clowns. That’s how I created Pennywise the clown, then ABC said they wanted to do the miniseries with Tim Curry. I thought it was strange, but they made an entire generation afraid of clowns Although I always thought they were terrifying.” “At that moment I thought it must be something that brings everything together, something horrible, unpleasant, rude, a creature that you don’t want to see and that makes you scream just by seeing it. Then I asked myself, What scares children more than anything in the world? And the answer was clowns. That’s how I created Pennywise the clown, then ABC said they wanted to do the miniseries with Tim Curry. I thought it was strange, but they made an entire generation afraid of clowns. “Although I always thought they were terrifying.”
The birth of the clown
When he was interviewed on the late night show Conan O’Brienin 2005, the host asked him if he had any traumatic experiences with clowns, and the writer explained the reasons why he chose them to shape Pennywise and why thinks clowns are scary to the kids.
“As a child, when I went to the circus, I would see 12 adults crowding around a small car, with dead white faces and red mouths, as if they were full of blood. All screaming at the same time, with those huge eyes “What can go wrong?”
King He points out that he did not realize to see what children really thought until he grew up and realized that:
“Kids are terrified of them, and meanwhile all the parents keep asking, ‘Don’t you think clowns are funny, Johnny?!’ and Johnny is thinking, ‘Get me out of here, those people are crazy!’ Because it looks monstrous and children are terrified of it.”
We imagine that the idea of the killer clown It didn’t come to him through infused science, of course. Taking into account, for example, that a decade earlier a serial killer named John Wayne Gacy, who was known as ‘The Killer Clown’ due to his alter ego. He acted under the nickname Pogowith which he participated in community events and children’s parties near his home.
Gacy confessed that he raped and killed 33 minors, between 1972 and 1978. He buried them in the yard of his house and spent 14 years sentenced to death in prison, creating some quite disturbing works of art.
Derry, Bangor and literature
Of course, to understand the making of ‘IT’ we cannot ignore the influence of the place where King has lived since then. The parallels of Bangor and Derry They do not end in its geography, but in the history of the city there are real cases that are narrated almost in detail in the novel.
For example, the interlude of the bradley gang or the most significant, Adrian Mellon’s homophobic assault in the first chapters, inspired by the death of Charlie Howarda real hate murder that took place on the Bangor Bridge, in a very similar way.
If to all this we add the literary influences of the writer, the foundation with which he challenged himself to create an epic and majestic horror novel is laid. Digging into his own storyThe body‘or his’The Mystery of Salem’s Lot‘, developed an initiation story with ‘Lord of the Flies‘ and ‘Kill a Mockingbird‘in one hand and the cosmic mythologies of HP Lovecraft and the novel’Ghosts‘ of Peter Straub in the other.
The result, the great American horror novel, a miniseries that marked a generation and a two-part film adaptation that has become one of the greatest horror film phenomena in history.