Carolina clown sightings scare me, says horror master Stephen King

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A spate of creepy clown sightings in South Carolina has perplexed police and worried parents, but their frightening appearance was no surprise to best-selling U.S. horror author Stephen King.

SEE ALSO: Police boost patrol after more clown sightings

King, whose 1986 novel "It" tells the story of a supernatural being that appears as a clown to terrorize the residents of a small Maine town, told the Bangor Daily News that fear of clowns touches a nerve with children and adults alike.

"Kids love clowns, but they also fear them; clowns with their white faces and red lips are so different and so grotesque compared to 'normal' people," the newspaper quoted King as saying in an article posted on Friday. "The clown furor will pass, as these things do, but it will come back, because under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying."

The clown sightings started around Greenville, South Carolina, last month when police began getting reports of clowns standing silently by roadsides, lurking near laundromats and trying to lure children into the woods with bags of cash and green laser lights.

Police in North Carolina have over the past week also reported a wave of sightings, suggesting a slow migration in the direction of the fictional town of Derry, Maine, where King's Pennywise carried out his rampage.

See photos of Stephen King throughout the years:

Stephen King through the years
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Stephen King through the years
"People like to be scared," according to writer Stephen King, pictured in New York City, March 21, 1979. The good reception for his horror-suspense novels and short stories has proved that - he's a best-selling author at 32. Chillers he's written include "Carrie," which earned him enough to write full time, "Salem's Lot" and "Night Shift." He will have a new book out later this year, "Dead Zone" of which he'll only say, "It's creepy." (AP Photo/Marty Reichenthal)
Renowned horror writer Stephen King is pictured in Cambridge, Mass., March 1, 1987. He and fellow author John Irving read some of their works to raise money for short story writer Andre Dubus, 50, who was seriously injured in an automobile accident. (AP Photo)
ARCHIV---The first installment of mystery writer Stephen King's serialized novel, "The Green Mile", will be available in bookstores later in March 1996. But King, shown in this Nov. 17, 1993, file photo, has said he won't have the story finished when the first installment, "The Two Dead Girls," reaches store shelves. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File)
Horror author Stephen King sits atop the television set in his Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel room, July 26, 1986. Not content with producing one chilling hit novel after another, King has directed his first movie, "Maximum Overdrive." (AP Photo/Michael Tweed)
Author Stephen King, making his first public appearance after an accident last June nearly took his life, reads at the Bowery Ballroom during the New Yorker Festival, a Literary and Arts Celebration, Friday, May 5, 2000 in New York. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
Author Stephen King is shown in this undated handout photo. (AP Photo)
This Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 photo shows musician John Mellencamp, left, and writer Stephen King at a press preview of the musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County" at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Ind. The musical by Mellencamp, King and T Bone Burnett will debut in Bloomington on Thursday before embarking on a tour of 20 U.S. cities. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Novelist Stephen King gestures as he speaks to creative writing students at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in Lowell, Mass., Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Author Stephen King looks out to the field before the start of a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
US author Stephen King poses for the cameras, during a promotional tour for his latest novel, 'Doctor Sleep', a sequel to 'The Shining', at a library in Paris, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

But police urged residents to remain calm after an adult man saw a clown emerge from the woods and chased the clown with a machete in Greensboro, North Carolina on Tuesday. A 911 dispatcher calmed the man down and the clown escaped unharmed, police said.

King's macabre imagination has produced dozens of shiver-inducing works including "The Shining" and "Misery." In 2014 he was awarded the U.S. National Medal for the Arts in recognition of his large oeuvre.

King admitted he'd be unnerved to find a pale-faced, red-lipped prankster skulking near his Bangor home.

"If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I'd be scared, too," he told the newspaper. (Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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