One of the many subjects we touched on in the interview is the current wave of clown sightings in the U.S. and Europe. A number of Bad Monkeys fans have suggested that I saw this coming, but while I’d love to take credit for being prescient, the truth is I’m just old. As the Sunday New York Times pointed out, this has happened before:
Creepy clown sightings aren’t new. They date from at least May 1981, when the cryptozoologist Loren Coleman coined the term “phantom clowns” to describe them. At the time, children in Brookline, Mass., were reporting clowns in vans who beckoned them with promises of candy. The police issued an all-points bulletin, established checkpoints and conducted searches, but no clowns were captured.
Still, the reports spread to at least six cities in the span of a month. Waves of sightings recurred in 1985 and in 1991 (in the latter reports the figures were often described as looking like Homey D. Clown from the TV series “In Living Color”). In each case, the stories were primarily spread by children and caused mild to moderate hysteria, but no clown predators were ever found.
It was these earlier clown panics that inspired Bad Monkeys‘ Scary Clowns. The ‘phantom clown’ chapter of Loren Coleman’s Mysterious America was a useful resource when I was writing the novel, as was Jan Harold Brunvand’s Encyclopedia of Urban Legends, so it’s nice to see Coleman and Brunvand getting name-checked in the current news coverage.