IT is one of the longest of Stephen King’s novel and one of the strangest. We watched the 2017 movie version when our daughter, Megan, was home over the holidays. During the movie, we frequently referenced The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, a Christmas gift Megan gave me, and discovered that the seed for this story was planted when King was working on The Stand.
He and his family were living in Boulder, Colorado then and their car, an AMC Matador, needed to be picked up at the garage where it was being repaired. Rather than calling a cab, King decided to walk the three miles to the dealership. He eventually ended up on a narrow, unlit road at twilight.
“I was aware of how alone I was. About a quarter of a mile along this road was a wooden bridge, humped and oddly quaint, spanning a stream,” he wrote in a Book-of-the-Month Clun News in 1986. I walked across it. I was wearing cowboy boots with rundown heels, and I was very aware of the sound they made on the boards; they sounded like a hollow click.”
Instead of thinking about the character from The Stand in whose life he was wrapped up at the time, he thought of the story of Billy Goats Gruff, the troll who says, “Whose that trip-trapping on my bridge?” From that point, the entire story “just bounced into my mind on a pogo-stick.” And it wasn’t just the characters that he got, but the “split time frame, the accelerated bounces that would end in a complete breakdown, which might result in a feeling of ‘no time,’ all the monsters that were one monster…the troll under the bridge, of course.”
In an interview with Douglas E Winter in The Art of Darkness, (NAL, 1984), King said, “The book is the summation of everything I have done and learned in my whole life to this point. Every monster that ever lived is in this book.”
King was 37 years old.
In the story, the number 27 appears frequently. So here are some synchros: This film was released 27 years after the original 1990 television mini-series. In the book, it is mentioned that “It” returns to Derry approximately every 27 years. Jonathan Brandis, who played young Bill in the original IT film, died at the age of 27. The movie was released a month after the 27th birthday of Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise the clown. The official US release date was 9/8/2017. 9+8+2+0+1+7 = 27.
As a writer, I’m intrigued by King’s use of multiple viewpoints in the novel – 7 altogether, and we see these viewpoints when the characters are kids, and when they’re adults. But in this version of IT the movie, everything is told from the kids’ point of view. In the planned sequel, the story will be told by their adult selves 27 years later.