I remember afterward throwing all my dolls into boxes and making my dad put them in the attic, never to be seen again. Between POLTERGEIST and Stephen King's IT, dolls and clowns scared the shit out of me.
This fear lasted until last year. Our local amusement park turns haunted in October. During a trip there last year, my son talked a clown into chasing me around. Then, he made me go through an attraction called Psycho Circus--aptly named for the ridiculous clowns that jump out at you. Yeah. I know. RIDICULOUS!
So why do I write horror? Because nothing beats that feeling I first had when the clown dragged Carol Ann's brother under his bed. POLTERGEIST is an idea that sticks with you forever. Spirits coming through the TV because your house is built on a ancient burial ground, a clown moving, and monsters under your bed are all childhood fears.
Stephen King's IT is my favorite horror book of all time. Pennywise the clown, did me in. But if you think about the story, about the seven children whose fears haunt them in the form of an evil clown--pure creative genius.
Why horror? Because it takes your fears, makes them real and then kills them. Spirits are exorcized, mad men captured, clowns hearts are removed, and haunted houses are swallowed up by the earth--there is an end.
Horror allows us to be a little crazy and dangerous, especially in psychological horror where the human mind is complex and it's thoughts are easily hidden from others. It loosens the grip our childhood fears have on us, gives a way for the writer/reader to wipe the cobwebs away from the darkness and let a little light shine in. Scarier than Stephen King is the writer's own mind. Could there be anything better?