R.L. Stine is a scary man. From Goosebumps to The Haunting Hour, he’s been frightening kids around the world for 25 years with spooky stories. I recently had the chance to chat with Stine about his legendary books and his surprising start as a joke writer.
You’ve now written hundreds of books, and cemented yourself as one most popular and accomplished authors of all-time. How did it all begin for you as a writer?
Everything that happened, happened by accident. I moved to New York and wanted to be a magazine writer. I had no intention of writing for kids, or even writing scary books. So, I worked for 16 years on a joke magazine called “Bananas,” it was jokes and comics. One day, out of the blue, an editor called and asked me to write children’s book, and it worked out great. I ended up writing 100 joke books really quickly. After the joke books did so well, that same editor asked me to write a horror book. So, I wrote one called “Blind Date,” and it was a bestseller. So I wrote another and another. And the success kept piling up, it struck a chord. I’ve been scary ever since. A few years down the road, we started “Goosebumps,” and it just took off.
Did you ever think it would turn out like this for you, that you would be a legend in children’s literature?
All I wanted to do was comedy. No one ever imagined what would happen with “Goosebumps.” There was no hype, it just spread through kids telling other kids. That’s how all the big books seem take off.
Did you have a favorite author growing up?
When I was young, my siblings and I would go to horror movies, and we loved them. We read scary comics. It turned out I had a knack for it. It turns out they are quite closely related.I loved the comic fan, mad comics, when I was 9 or 10, I had a librarian I had ray Bradbury books. He turned me into a reader. I started reading Asimov and other.
Of all your hundreds of stories you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
Yes, definitely! “The Haunted Mask.” It was also the first “Goosebumps” TV episode. The story is the eleventh book in the “Goosebumps” series. It’s about a girl who buys a Halloween mask from a store, and after putting on the mask, she starts acting differently and discovers she is unable to pull the mask off.