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
Stephen King through the years
FILE PHOTO CIRCA 1970 - Best-selling horror author Stephen King was in serious condition in a Maine hospital late June 19 after being hit by a van near his summer home, west of Portland, Maine, a hospital spokesman said. The author of "Carrie," "Children of the Corn," and other major novels made into films was taken to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston after being struck from behind.
Author Stephen King (L) and cast member Donnie Wahlberg arrive for the
U.S. premiere of the film "Dreamcatcher" March 19, 2003 in Los Angeles.
Wahlberg stars as Douglas "Duddits" Cavell in the film based on the
book by King. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Author Stephen King signs copies of his books, as part of The New Yorker Festival, in New York, September 24, 2005. Picture taken September 24, 2005. REUTERS/Albert Ferreira/Handout
Author Stephen King holds up a pink Amazon Kindle 2 electronic reader at a news conference in New York where the device was introduced, February 9, 2009. The Kindle 2, latest incarnation of the digital book reader is a slimmer version with more storage and a feature that reads text aloud to users. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Boston Red Sox fan and author Stephen King watches the Red Sox play the Los Angeles Angels during Game 3 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoff at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, October 5, 2008. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES)
Author Stephen King speaks at a news conference to introduce the new Amazon Kindle 2 electronic reader in New York, U.S. on February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
Author Stephen King looks towards U.S. President Barack Obama during the citation reading to award King with the National Medal of Arts during a ceremony at the White House in Washington September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Barack Obama presents author Stephen King with the National Medal of Arts during a ceremony at the White House in Washington September 10, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Author of contemporary horror, Stephen King is a guest on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, 11/2/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 15: Author Stephen King signs copies of his new book 'Revival: A Novel' at Book People on November 15, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 11: Author Stephen King signs the copies of his book 'Revival' at Barnes & Noble Union Square on November 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
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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)