Kayla Jesso saw the horror movie “It” with her boyfriend Dakota Morrison at the drive-in.
The movie is based on the book by Stephen King.
A few days later, on Oct. 1, she was sitting on the couch when Morrison came back in from putting out the garbage.
“There’s two red balloons outside.”
She didn’t believe him.
“He’s just joking,” thought Jesso.
“No way. I’m not going anywhere outside,” she said.
She refused to look out the window, so he took a photo and showed it to her. Two red balloons were tied to their doorstep.
In big letters were the words “It” and “you’ll float too,” the famous line from the movie.
“We didn’t think it was anyone we knew at first.”
Jesso later discovered it was a prank by a friend of her brother who knew she had just seen the movie. There had been balloons tied to her neighbour’s house too, she said.
King’s books can have that effect. Glenna Jenkins was terrified after she read The Shining, a book about a man who turns on his family while taking care of a haunted hotel.
For nights after finishing it she had to leave on the lights. She was scared if she turned them off she would see an axe-wielding murderer.
King is a gifted author who can easily strike fear in his readers, she said.
“His writing has a really good effect on his readers.”
She just finished writing two chapters of a book she’s writing set during Halloween for the historical fiction she’s writing.
The main character is tied to a tree in the dark with an owl looking down at him, its eyes blinking at him then disappearing when its head turns. He wonders if owls are like hawks, if they attack, she said.
“I don’t know if I got that from Stephen King.”
Jenkins isn’t the only author affected by King’s writing.
Mystery author Finley Martin said King is the only horror writer he enjoys because his stories are realistic.
King’s books have a depth and richness to them that attract the reader. He doesn’t just strive for horrific, said Martin.
“They touch on reality.”
Martin worked for 25 years as a high school English teacher, the same job King did to support his family.
He found it to be a creative block and has been writing much better since his retirement from full-time teaching in 2003, Martin said.
It’s when King gives someone young a jaded death that it becomes scary, he said.
“As you get older, these things aren’t as fresh and unusual.”
As for Jesso and the movie “It”, she went thinking it would be really scary, but Pennywise the clown was the only terrifying thing about it, she said.
“I didn’t even find the movie scary.”