Robert Lawrence Stein, born in 1943 in Columbus, Ohio, is more commonly known as R.L. Stein writer of the Goosebumps series of books for children as well as others. He has written over 300 books with there being over 60 books in the original Goosebumps and more than 20 of the Goosebumps: Horrorland books with Why I Quit Zombie School a Horrorland Hall of Horrors book number four, having released on October 1, 2011. Stine’s book, Nightmare Hour: Time for Terror a collection of short stories holds position 85 in Children’s books best sellers on Amazon.com and holds position 4 in Spine-Chilling Horror within the Children’s books realm on Amazon.com. His books have sold over 400 million copies in over 32 languages.
In a 2008, interview for BN R.L. Stine states that he writes 10 to 15 pages a day, and characterizes his writing style as that of a machine. In 1999, during a CNN chat, he stated that he can write a book “in about 10 days.” In the same CNN conversation he said, “I get most of my ideas by thinking up titles first. I think I work backwards from most other authors. Other authors get ideas first, but I always start with a title. When I have a good title, I start to think about what kind of story will go with it.”
When I was in middle school in the mid-nineties Goosebumps books were the big thing. Everyone was into them. People were having conversations about if Goosebumps were good for kids to read. If they were just mental rot or if they served a purpose for readers. Others wanted to ban the books for being too violent (see the previous link). I didn’t like the R.L. Stine books, some of the stories were okay. Say Cheese and Die was my favorite Goosebumps book, it felt familiar and I enjoyed it. Many years later I would remember why, when watching a Twilight Zone marathon on the then SciFi (Now SyFy) channel the episode A Most Unusual Camera reminded me why. They were similar stories and as I grow older I feel it’s kind of a cheat in a way. However, there was an annual book reading contest where if you read 100 books during the first half of the year, you were eligible to go on a field trip to places like Washington DC or Boston with your class with limited parental supervision. I would pad my list with the easy to read Goosebumps books.
However, I am reminded by something my English Professor the late Robert Fuhrman said, “Sometimes I want candy so I’ll read Dan Brown, other times I want steak so I’ll read Hemingway”. And I guess that’s one way to approach it, so when I was watching The Hub television network, and saw a Goosebumps rerun I was reminded by the controversy surrounding these books as well as the resurgence they are making. In a recent trip to Barnes and Noble, I witnessed a girl promising her mother all manner of things to buy a copy of Say Cheese and Die Again. To me, as a promoter of reading, as much as I dislike the Goosebumps series and think that the writing is terrible, if you’ve got a kid out there wanting to read books, begging for someone to buy her a book, maybe you’ve accomplished something very tangible and worthwhile.
In keeping with the holiday spirit, Scholastic will be hosting a R.L. Stine social media take over, where according to the website, Stine will, “post frighteningly fantastic prompts, jokes, and trivia, and answer his fan’s ghoulish questions.” The takeover event will begin on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 1:00pm EST and will end at 3pm. However, Stine does stay in contact with his readers on Twitter (@RL_Stine) constantly during the day on a regular basis.