R.L. Stine: ‘Everything That Ever Happened To Me Was an Accident’

By Maryann Yin 

R.L. Stine,  the author of the popular Goosebumps horror series for kids, has been busy lately: tweeting scary stories and publishing Red Rainhis first novel for adults.

We caught up with Stine to discuss writing tips, challenging himself and his favorite scary books. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: What’s your advice for aspiring horror writers?

A: There’s no formula. I think you have to create a very close point of view. You have to be in the eyes of the narrator. Everything that happens, all the smells, all the sounds; then your reader starts to identify with that character and that’s what makes something really scary.

I did something very different with Red Rain. Every Goosebumps book is from one point of view; one girl or one boy telling the story. That keeps it very close and very scary. With Red Rain, I gave myself a challenge. What if I had five or six points of view? Could I still do it? Could I still make it creepy? I did a lot of things just to challenge myself in writing for adults.

The other big elements are shock and surprises! You don’t want a linear plot. You want to have twists in there that the reader will stop and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that.’

Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: My very first book deal was for funny books. I wrote maybe one hundred joke books and funny books. I was working as an editor at Scholastic for sixteen years. I was editing and writing a humor magazine for kids called Bananas. I was having a great time; it was really fun.

One day, an editor from Dutton called me and said, ‘I love your magazine. I’ll bet you can write funny children’s books. Why don’t we have lunch?’ I had lunch with her, we talked and I wrote a book called How to be Funny. That was my first book. Everything that ever happened to me was an accident.

Q: What are your favorite scary books?
A: I always mention Ray Bradbury‘s book, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I read when I was much younger and it totally creeped me out.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: We keep doing more Goosebumps. I’m still writing six Goosebumps books a year. The TV show, The Haunting Hour, is doing really well. We’re just starting our third season. That’s fun. It’s ongoing. If people like Red Rain, I’ll do more adult.