In October 1957, an evil shape-shifting being, known only as "It", awakens in the town of Derry, Maine. Taking the form of a clown named Pennywise, It lives in the sewers under the town and comes up through places connected to the sewer system. It preys on children and takes the form which they are most scared of once they have been tempted to him with balloons. Because most children think a monster would eat them, It takes away one of their body parts and hides it in the sewers. When six year old George Denbrough's paper boat is swept into a storm drain, It tempts the boy by conjuring up a circus in the drain and murders him.
The following June, a new resident arrives in Derry. Ben Hanscom is overweight, has no friends and is bullied by Henry Bowers and Victor Criss. On the last day of school he hides from his tormentors in the Barrens, where he meets and befriends Eddie Kaspbrak, whose mother has convinced him he has asthma, and Bill Denbrough, George's elder brother who has a terrible stutter. The three boys later befriend Richie Tozier, a smart alec; Stan Uris, who is outcast because he's Jewish; Beverly Marsh, who is beaten by her father; and Mike Hanlon, who is outcast because he's black. The children establish their circle as the "Losers Club".
Gradually, they realise they have all encountered It in various forms (Ben as a mummy, Eddie as a leper, Bill as George, Richie as a werewolf, Stan as Its victims, Beverley as voices from the sink and Mike as a flesh eating bird)and link it with a series of child murders which began with George.
Ben has read a book about American Indians using smokeholes to have visions, so makes a makeshift smokehole out of the Loser's clubhouse. By use of this, the Losers discover how It came to Derry. Bill then discovers an American Indian ritual - The Ritual Of Chud - which he hopes will kill It. A few days later, Eddie is hospitalized after being attacked by a gang of bullies led by Henry Bowers. Beverly stumbles across the Bowers gang in the landfill. While hiding, Beverly witnesses one of the bullies, Patrick Hockstetter, being attacked and kidnapped by It. When the Losers return to the landfill, they discover a message from It written in Patrick's blood, warning them to stop. After Eddie is released from the hospital, Ben makes two slugs out of silver, believing that It can be killed by silver bullets. The Losers return to the House on Neibolt street, where Eddie was attacked by the leper and Richie and Bill were chased away by Richie's werewolf, and It plays games with the interior to try to scare them. It attacks the Losers in werewolf form, primarily focusing on Bill. The Losers, however, are able to chase It away with Beverley's slingshot.
It manipulates the mind of Henry Bowers, making him kill his father and providing him with a switchblade to kill the Losers with. Henry recruits two other bullies, Victor Criss and Reginald "Belch" Huggins, and follow the Losers into the sewers. Under Derry, It attacks the Bowers gang in the form of Frankenstein's monster, killing Victor and Belch. Henry escapes and is arrested by the police, having been framed by It for the child murders.
The Losers confront It. Bill enters the monster's mind through the Ritual of Chüd and comes to a darkness beyond the universe, where It's true form resides: a mass of floating orange light (or "deadlights"). Bill defeats It, forcing the monster to retreat. The Losers decide that It has been destroyed. The Losers finally escape from the sewers. The seven make a blood oath to return to Derry if It ever resurfaces.
In July 1984, three youths throw a gay man, Adrian Mellon, off a bridge. They are arrested for murder when Mellon's mutilated corpse is found, though they didn't mutilate him. One of the murderers claims that he saw a clown kill him underneath the bridge. When a string of violent child-killings hits Derry, Mike—now the town’s librarian and the only one of the Losers’ Club to remain in Derry—calls up his six friends and reminds them of their childhood promise to return.
Bill is now a successful horror writer living in England with his wife, Audra. Beverly is a fashion designer in Chicago, who has married an abusive man named Tom and is regularly beaten. Eddie has moved to New York City, where he runs a limousine rental company. Richie lives in Los Angeles and is a professional disc jockey using his talent for voice imitation. Ben is now thin and a successful architect, living in Nebraska. Stan is a wealthy accountant residing in Atlanta, Georgia.
An account of each person's reception to the phone call is given. Stan kills himself out of fear of It (although he could have been killed by It, as It later says he has killed one of the gang and because Stan died in the bath). Tom refuses to let Beverley go and tries to beat her, so she lashes out at him before fleeing to her friend. The other's receptions are fairly uneventful. Five of them return to Derry with only the dimmest awareness of why they are doing so, having almost completely blocked out virtually every aspect of their childhood.
The remaining Losers meet for lunch, where Mike enlightens them to the apparent nature of It: It awakens once roughly every twenty-seven years for twelve-to-sixteen months at a time, feeding on children before going into slumber again. The group decides to kill It once and for all. Later, many of them witness manifestations of It. Three other people are also converging on the town: Audra, who wants to help Bill; Tom, who plans to kill Beverley; and Henry Bowers, who has escaped a mental institution with help from It. Mike and Henry have a violent confrontation, but Henry escapes. Henry, with the guidance of It, is transported to a hotel to attack Eddie. In the ensuing fight, Henry is killed.
It appears to Tom and orders him to capture Audra. Tom brings Audra to It's lair. Upon seeing It's true form (the dead lights), Audra becomes catatonic and Tom drops dead in shock. Audra is left alive in It's lair.
Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, and Eddie, find out that Mike is near death and realize that they are being forced into another confrontation with It. They descend into the sewers. While in the sewers, the remaining Losers use their strength as a group to "send energy" to a hospitalized Mike, who fights off a nurse that is under the control of It.
It appears as George but Bill overcomes the illusion. They reach It's lair and Bill and Richie engage It in the Ritual of Chüd again. Richie rescues Bill from the deadlights and manages to injure It. Eddie saves them, but is killed in the process. Beverly stays with Eddie and the traumatized Audra, who is found alive. Bill, Richie, and Ben follow It when It retreats due to injury. They discover that It has laid eggs, and they are about to hatch, which are all destroyed by Ben while Bill and Richie hunt down It. Bill crushes It's heart between his hands, finally killing It.
At the same time, the worst storm in Maine's history sweeps through Derry and the downtown area collapses. Mike concludes that Derry is finally dying.
The novel ends with the Losers returning home and forgetting about It, Derry and each other. As a sign that It really is dead, Mike’s memory of the events of that summer also begin to fade, much to his relief. Ben and Beverley leave together. Bill is the last to leave Derry. Before he goes, he takes Audra, still catatonic, for a ride on his bicycle Silver, hoping that they can beat her catatonia. They succeed, and the story ends.
The Losers' ClubEdit
The seven kids are the tweens who are united by their unhappy lives, their misery at being the victims of bullying by Henry Bowers and their eventual struggle to overcome It.
- William "Bill" Denbrough: Also known as "Stuttering Bill" and "Big Bill", he gets his nickname from his bad stuttering issue, which became much more severe after his brother's death; although his mother attributes it to a car accident that occurred when Bill was three, it is implied to be more of a psychological issue than a physical one. His brother George was killed by It in 1957. Bill feels slightly guilty about the murder, because he'd been the one who sent George outside to play and made him the paper boat which George was tempted into the sewers with. Ever since George died, Bill has been partially ignored by his parents who also blamed him for his brother's death. Beverly Marsh develops an intense crush on him during their time in the Losers Club. When the group returned to Derry in 1985 they sleep together but do not carry their relationship any further. He is the most determined and resourceful of the Losers and is the one who, both in 1958 and 1985, confronts It in the Ritual of Chüd and eventually destroys It. As an adult, he marries Audra Phillips, a successful actress bearing a strong resemblance to Bev. As with other King characters, Bill is a famous writer.
- Benjamin "Ben" Hanscom: He was dubbed "Haystack" by Richie, after the professional wrestler Haystack Calhoun. Because of his obesity, he has become a frequent victim of Henry Bowers, who once used a Buck knife to try to carve his name into his abdomen (he managed an unfinished "H" before Ben escaped). His father died in a plane crash in the army. He also develops an intense crush on Beverly Marsh and the two leave Derry together after the 1985 defeat of It. As he grows up, he sheds his excess weight and becomes an architect. His mechanical skills become useful to the Losers, from making two silver slugs to building an underground clubhouse where Mike and Richie have a vision of Its cosmic crash into the site which would later become Derry, Maine.
- Beverly "Bev" Marsh (later Rogan): The only female in the group, Beverly is an attractive, chain smoking, redheaded girl from the poorest part of Derry. She has an abusive father who beats her regularly. She develops a crush on Bill Denbrough and her skill with a slingshot is a key factor in battling It. All the boys are described as being fond of Beverly; at some point, each has romantic or sexual feelings for her, which is later confirmed once all the Losers return from the sewer defeating It (or so they thought). As a child, her father abused her while using his constant catch phrase, "I worry about you, Bevvy. Sometimes I worry a lot." As an adult, she becomes a successful fashion designer, but endures several abusive relationships, culminating in her marriage to Tom Rogan, who sees her as a sex object and disapproves of her chain smoking, using it as an excuse to beat her up. After a brief liaison with Bill, she subsequently departs Derry with Ben following the death of her husband (who was used by It to capture Audra).
- Richard "Richie" Tozier: Known as "Trashmouth", Richie is the Losers' most lighthearted member, always cracking jokes and doing impersonations or "Voices", which prove very powerful weapons against It. He is "too intelligent for his own good" and channels his boredom in hyper-active wisecracking, to the point of being self-destructive. His flippant remark to Henry Bowers leads to almost getting beaten up by Henry and his friends. His childhood trauma stemmed from his rapid-fire insults being compulsive and almost subconsciously triggered. He is the most devoted to keeping the group together as he sees 7 as a magical number and believes the group should have no more, no less. In adulthood, he is a successful disc jockey. As the DJ, he uses his once-annoying and unrealistic voices as one of his main attractions. These voices became a weapon of the Losers against It, when they find out It could be hurt by Richie's Voices. Like Ben, he has a crush on Beverly, though it is not crucial to the plot. He has bad eyesight and wears thick glasses as a child, but changes to contact lenses as an adult.
- Edward "Eddie" Kaspbrak: Eddie is a frail hypochondriac whose asthma is psychosomatic. At one point in the story the man who runs the pharmacy reveals to the reader that he had a placebo and that his medicine is nothing but water. He has a worrying, domineering mother who, ever since his father died, has used Munchausen syndrome by proxy to bully him into caring for her. She is the root of him mental problems and has convinced him he has asthma. Eddie is considered the most physically fragile member of the group, although his gym teacher, Coach Black, states that Eddie "loves to play games and runs quite fast". Richie sometimes calls him "Eds", which he hates (as is demonstrated when It bites off Eddie's arm and his dying words are to Richie, who calls him "Eds": "Richie, don't call me Eds. You know I...I... [without finishing his sentence, "I hate it when you call me that"]"). He is a Methodist, though his family was strict Polish Catholic two generations before Eddie. When Henry and his friends break his arm and his mother tries to prevent the Losers from visiting Eddie in the hospital, he finally stands up to his mother and tells her that he is no longer the helpless kid she thinks he is. He eventually runs a successful limousine business but is married to a woman (Myra) very similar to his mum. He also finds the strength to defend himself from Henry Bowers, eventually deforming and killing him in self-defense with a broken bottle, even though in the fight his arm is re-broken in the same spot Henry broke it in a scuffle when they were kids. He bleeds to death in the sewers after his arm is bitten off, ultimately dying in the gang's arms.
- Michael "Mike" Hanlon: Mike is the last to join the Losers. He is the only African American child in the group. When he is racially persecuted by Henry Bowers, the Losers fight back against Bowers in a massive rock fight. Mike is the only one of the Losers to stay behind in Derry (and thus the only one to retain his memory of the events of 1958) and becomes the town librarian. He is the one who beckons the others back when the killings begin again in 1985. His father kept an album filled with photos that were important to Derry's history, including several of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Through the knowledge he acquires of Derry and It, he becomes an amateur historian of the town. He is seriously wounded by Henry Bowers and nearly dies. He later recovers from his wounds but like the others starts to lose his memory of the experience, and of the other Losers. It was later revealed in Insomnia that Mike continued as a librarian and was the boss of one of that book's primary protagonists in 1993.
- Stanley "Stan" Uris: Also known as "Stan the Man", Stan is a skeptical, bookish Jewish member of the club. He admits that his family takes a relaxed approach to their faith, rather than practicing it devoutly. Logic, order, and cleanliness are deeply ingrained in his psyche. He is the least willing to accept that It actually exists and relies on logic more than anything else. Stan, much like Mike, is racially persecuted by Henry. As a child his main hobby was birdwatching. He later becomes a partner in a large Atlanta-based accounting firm and marries Patty Blum, a teacher. However, upon receiving Mike's phone call, he commits suicide by slitting his wrists in the bathtub and writing "IT" in his blood on the wall. He chose death over returning to Derry to face the ancient terror despite being the one to slice the Losers' palms in a blood oath. It is also implied in the book that Stan remembers more about the children's encounters with It than the others do, sometimes commenting about the Turtle and other events from his time in Derry, though he claims that he doesn't remember what those phrases mean. It can be implied throughout the story that he was psychic to a mild degree (accurately predicting which job his wife should apply for, a higher sensitivity to Its activities, frequent references from the other losers to his "ordered mind") Bill also blames It for Stan's death, saying in one part of the novel that It "killed Stan the Man".
A mysterious entity, It is a monster of unknown origin which preys on Derry's children every three decades, stating It finds the fear in children akin to "salt(ing) the meat". Among Its powers is shape shifting into a form that induces fear while killing the victim, normally assuming the form of a fanged clown and calling itself Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It can also manipulate people into doing Its bidding, either by assuming a form most familiar to them or promising them their desires. Thus, having control over what happens in Derry, many of the child murders It commits are never solved, as the adults of Derry either act as though nothing is happening or have forgotten about It. Its true form as perceived by the human eye is that of a female spider that houses Its essence: namely writhing orange lights (termed "Deadlights"), looking directly into which can either kill a person or drive them insane.
Its awakening and return to hibernation mark the greatest instances of violence during Its time awake, such as the disappearance of over three hundred settlers from Derry Township in 1740–43. During the 1950s, It awoke during a great storm which flooded part of the city and murdered George Denbrough before going on a feeding spree. However, when the Losers' Club forced It to return to an early hibernation when heavily wounded by the young Bill Denbrough in the first Ritual of Chüd. As the story opens, It awakens when young bullies beat up a young homosexual couple, Adrian Mellon and Don Hagarty, with It killing the former after he is thrown off a bridge. When the adult members of the Losers' Club gathered, seeing them to be a threat, It resolved to drive them away through both Its illusions and using Henry Bowers. However, with Mike hospitalized, Bill, Richie, Beverly, Eddie and Ben managed to confront Its spider form after It arranged to have Audra in its possession. It was finally destroyed in the second Ritual of Chüd with an enormous storm that damages the downtown part of Derry to signify Its death.
- Henry Bowers: Henry Bowers is a sadistic, crazed bully who torments the Losers and other kids, both male and female, to no end throughout the summer of 1958. Henry's sanity slowly deteriorates throughout the summer due to the influence of It and abuse from his equally crazy father, Butch Bowers. He is also shown to be a racist as well as his father, and shares in his father's intense hatred for the Hanlon family, the only black family in Derry, in addition to being a misogynist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-semite. He inflicts many acts of violence and humiliation upon the Losers during and before the summer of '58, such as partially carving his name into Ben Hanscom's belly, killing Mike Hanlon's dog and bathing him in mud in order to make him a "tar baby", breaking Eddie Kaspbrak's arm, breaking Richie Tozier's glasses numerous times, and white-washing Stan Uris' face in snow until it bleeds. His eroding sanity becomes apparent during his attacks on Eddie and Beverly: with the former, he pushed a man to the ground and threatened him into going back inside, and kicked out an old lady's taillight when she tried to stand up for Beverly. After a violent rockfight in early July, Henry becomes more and more sadistic until he eventually murders his father in mid-August with a switchblade provided by It and tries to kill the Losers. He follows them into the town sewers with his friends Victor Criss and Reginald "Belch" Huggins, only to encounter It in the form of Frankenstein's monster, who decapitates Victor and mutilates Belch's face, after which Henry escapes. Henry fails to kill any of the Losers, but he eventually finds his way out of the sewers and his hair turns white from the shock of witnessing his friends being slaughtered and also seeing It in its true form, which drives him completely insane. He is convicted for the murder of his father and is framed for most of It's murders throughout the summer. He is placed in an insane asylum and remains there until May 29, 1985, when he escapes with It's assistance, and heads back to Derry to attempt to murder the Losers once more. After critically wounding Mike in the town library and being injured himself in the process, Henry then goes to the hotel where most of the Losers are staying, and finds Eddie's room first, only to be killed in the confrontation with Eddie.
- Victor "Vic" Criss: Victor "Vic" Criss is a bully, and one of Henry's sidekicks. Among Henry's gang, Vic is the only one who truly realizes Henry's eroding sanity, and becomes more and more reluctant to hang around Henry. In early August, Vic almost approaches the Losers to join them, but decides against it. By doing this, he seals his fate and joins Henry and Belch in following the Losers into the sewers, where the three encounter It in the form of Frankenstein's monster, who kills Vic.
- Reginald "Belch" Huggins: Reginald "Belch" Huggins is another sidekick of Henry's, and earned his nickname due to his ability to belch on command. He is very big for his age, being six feet tall at twelve years old. Belch is considered stupid by most people, which he makes up for in physical strength and his fierce loyalty to his friends, especially Henry. Belch follows Henry into the sewers to murder the Losers, only to be brutally killed by It in the form of Frankenstein's monster.
- Patrick Hockstetter: Patrick Hockstetter is a psychopathic and solipsistic bully who sometimes hangs out with Henry's gang. Patrick keeps a pencil box full of dead flies, which he kills with his ruler, and shows it to other students. He also takes small, usually injured animals and locks them in a broken refrigerator in a junkyard, and leaves them there to die. Along with killing animals, Patrick has also murdered his infant brother, Avery, by suffocation when he was five years old. When alone with Henry after lighting farts with him and his gang one July afternoon in 1958, Patrick gives Henry a handjob and offers to give him oral sex, which snaps Henry out of his daze and prompts him to punch Patrick in the mouth. Henry then reveals that he knows about Patrick's refrigerator, and threatens to tell everyone about it if Patrick tells about the handjob. Once Henry has left, Patrick opens the refrigerator to dispose of the animal corpses but is attacked by a swarm of flying leeches, his greatest fear. The swarm sucks Partick's blood leaving large holes all over his body, which causes him to slowly lose consciousness as he is dragged away by It. When he awakens, It begins to feed on him.
- Edward "Eddie" Corcoran: Eddie Corcoran is a classmate of the Losers Club and Henry's gang. Like Beverly Marsh, Eddie and his younger brother Dorsey are victims of child abuse by their stepfather, Richard Macklin. However, unlike Beverly's father, who proved to be a loving and caring father at times, Eddie's stepfather would often beat them brutally and without warning, at one point throwing Eddie into a coat rack with enough force to make him Urinate Blood for two weeks simply for accidentally slamming the door. In May 1957, Richard hit Dorsey in the back of the head with a hammer, accidentally killing him, which he covered up to look like an accident. Two days before summer vacation in June 1958, Eddie runs away from home and decides to rest in the park. However, using Dorsey's form, It approaches Eddie and chases after him before assuming the form of the gillman to kill Eddie.
- Adrian Mellon: Adrian Mellon is a young homosexual man in Derry. He grows fond of the town, despite its violently homophobic mindset, and only agrees to leave to please his boyfriend, Don Hagarty. Before leaving, however, the two attend a town fair in July 1984, and on the way home are harassed by three homophobic youths. The three attack them, Adrian especially because of a hat he won at the fair, and throw him over a canal. When he hits the bottom, Adrian is attacked by Pennywise as It bites into his armpit, and drags him away to kill. Though Don and one of the bullies, Chris Unwin, witnessed this, no mention of Pennywise is made at the trial, nobody mentions a clown.
- Will Hanlon: Will Hanlon is the father of Mike Hanlon. While dying of cancer in 1963, he tells Mike about his experiences in the U.S. Air Force in the 1920s and about establishing the Black Spot, a club started by Will and his black Air Force buddies and originally meant exclusively for black members, but gradually began accepting members of other races as well. He recounts how, in the fall of 1930, the club was burned down by a group of Maine Legion of White Decency members, causing numerous deaths. He also tells Mike that he witnessed a giant bird—the same bird that nearly killed Mike in 1958—carry off a Legion of White Decency member and fly away with him in its talons.
- Mr. Keene: Mr. Norbert Keene was the owner and operator of the Center Street Drug Store for fifty years from 1925 to 1975. He administers Eddie's asthma medication and later reveals to him that it's only a placebo. Many years later, Mike interviews him and Mr. Keene tells him the story of the Bradley Gang, a group of outlaws who were hiding out in Maine after several bank robberies in the midwest. He tells Mike that, in 1929, a year before the fire at the Black Spot, the entire gang was murdered by Derry residents when stopping through town to buy ammunition. Mr. Keene says that rather than covering up the event, the whole town instead pretended that it never occurred, including police Chief Jim Sullivan, who even took part in the slayings. Finally, Mr. Keene mentions seeing a clown participating in the shooting, but that it was wearing farmer's attire rather than a traditional clown suit. He also points out that even though the Sun was out, the clown cast no shadow.
- Tom Rogan: The insane, abusive, violent and sadistic husband of Beverly Marsh. Tom has a very predatory view of women, and he thrives on the control he has over his vulnerable wife. When Beverly tries to leave for Derry, he refuses to let her, whipping her. Tom is surprised when the normally docile Beverly fights back, and almost kills him, before leaving for Derry. Tom, desperate to find his wife, beats one of her friends until he finds out that Beverly is in Derry. Tom goes to Derry with the intent to kill Beverly, and possibly her "writer friend" Bill Denbrough, whom Tom (correctly) assumes she is sleeping with. When he gets there, It uses Tom to capture Audra Phillips and bring her to Its lair under the city. Upon seeing It in its true form, Tom drops dead in shock and gets eaten by It.
- Audra Phillips: Bill Denbrough's wife who is a famous actress. She and Bill have an occasional working relationship: she is set to star in an adaptation of a novel he wrote. When Bill leaves for Derry, he strongly urges Audra to remain in England, and although she agrees, she leaves the next day to follow him. When she makes it to Derry, It uses Tom Rogan to capture her, and uses her as bait to lure Bill Denbrough. When the Losers defeat It once and for all, they rescue Audra, but she is catatonic. The book ends with Bill using the last of his childhood to bring her out of the coma. Audra has a strong physical resemblance to the adult Beverly Rogan.
- George Denbrough: The first character introduced in the book, George is Bill's younger brother. He is a stereotypical child, innocent and curious. He is killed when It, appearing as Pennywise, rips off his arm. George's death is the first in the fall of 1957 and it is what drives Bill to defeat It. Although in 1958, It threatens to appear to Bill as George, It never does so until 1985 (excluding Its appearance before Bill in Georgie's room, when It causes George's school photo to leer and wink at him). When Bill sees It as George, he works through his grief and overcomes Its ruse.
- Peter Gordon: A well-off friend of Henry's that lives on West Broadway, who thinks of chasing Mike Hanlon as a game, though Henry's crazed and increasingly violent behavior (such as attempting to outright kill Mike with cherry bombs and M-80s) begins to alienate him. He is never seen again after the rock fight. Eddie assumes that Henry kicked him out of his gang because he was the first to run away from the fight. It is implied that he was eventually killed by It as it is recounted that all of Henry's friends and ex-friends were killed by It.
- Claude Heroux: An Acadian logger who was active in a Union movement in the early 1900s around Derry. After several Union organizers were killed and narrowly escaping death, he retreated to woods where It possessed him, leading him to slaughter several anti-union organizers, possibly involved in the murder of his comrades, in broad daylight at the Silver Dollar Bar. He is later lynched by the townspeople despite seeming to lack all memory of the murders.
- Richard "Dick" Hallorann: A chef in Derry Army E Company. Although Dick Hallorann plays a minor role in this novel, by saving Mike Hanlon's father at the fire at the Black Spot, he plays a more significant role in the novel The Shining.
- Alvin Marsh: Beverly Marsh's insane father. Although he is not an alcoholic or drug-user, he abuses Bev and her mother (who later died), and acts misogynistic. He died of unknown causes in 1980, (possibly murdered by It).
25th Anniversary Special EditionEdit
Cover for the 25th anniversary editionOn December 13, 2011, Cemetery Dance published a special limited edition of It for the 25th anniversary of the novel (ISBN 978-1587672705) in three editions: an unsigned limited gift edition of 2,750, a signed limited edition of 750, and a signed and lettered limited edition of 52. All three editions are oversized hardcovers, housed in a slipcase or traycase, and feature premium binding materials. This anniversary edition features a new dust jacket illustration by Glen Orbik, as well as numerous interior illustrations by Alan M. Clark and Erin Wells. The book also contains a new afterword by Stephen King discussing his reasons for writing the novel.