I can see you reading that copy of It, your trembling fingers turning the pages, and I know you’re really scared, but I’m going to need you to calm down. Let’s get on the same page here: something like a killer clown in the small town of Derry could never happen, because it takes place in a fictional world. Specifically, the state of Maine.

The minute I opened my first Stephen King novel, I was admittedly worried. But I quickly calmed myself because how could a place that cold and lobster-filled really exist? That would validate all the horrors in Carrie, and I cannot stand by that. Anything north of New Hampshire is Canada, and no one can tell me otherwise, because I won my third-grade geography bee in the very real state of Ohio.

Honestly, I think Mr. King makes his stories less believable and so much worse by fabricating an entire state into existence where people say things like “motor canoe” and “I’m going to McDonald’s to buy a McLobster.” It’s a hat on a very warm hat, making something convoluted on top of something that is already inconceivable. It would be way scarier if it took place somewhere real, like Portland (Oregon) or Augusta (Georgia).

Picture this: a land where there are like, a ton of lighthouses. I know well enough that each of the forty-nine states has two lighthouses max, maybe excluding Massachusetts, which has three. And anyone that tells you otherwise probably believes in Maine, and therefore cannot be trusted. Send Cujo after me, I don’t care. That dog is in Maine, so he’s nothing to worry about.

I admire the gall it takes to see forty-nine perfectly good states in this country and be like, “None of those really work for me, so I’ll add a new one.” Stephen King even claims to live in Maine. That is commitment to a fantasy at best, and a deeply disturbed state of mind at worst.

Everyone seems to be steadfast in believing in this absolutely fictional location. Can you imagine Pet Sematary actually existing? Or Senator Susan Collins being more than just some poorly written Stephen King fanfiction?

Maine is purely a vehicle for Stephen King novels, and I am not impressed with anyone trying to be a fan who says, “But I am from Maine” or “Wait… you really don’t believe it exists?” Keep living in your little horror world, committed to a lie, cosplaying as something ridiculous like “student at Bowdoin College” or “L.L. Bean customer.” I couldn’t even read On Writing by Stephen King, because it’s supposed to be nonfiction and yet he is committed to talking about Maine. I respect that everyone has the right to believe whatever they believe, but I draw the line at Maine. Come at me! What are you going to do? Send me to Maine?

Demon clowns, however, are very much real.

Just not in Maine.

Looking for more Stephen King-related McSweeney’s content? Read a brand-new story by the master of horror, set in the fantasy world of Maine, inside the newest issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly. Use the discount code “TENDENCY” for $10 off the price of a subscription.