The author of more than 400 children’s horror stories, R. L. Stine, told NPR’s Michel Martin in an interview that “I started when I was 9. I don’t know, I was this weird kid. I found a typewriter, I dragged it into my room and I would just stay in my room, typing — typing out funny stories and little comic books,” Stine says.
“You know, I always wanted to be funny. I never planned to be scary.”
Jack Black, who is portraying a fictionalized Stine in Goosebumps, a film based on R. L. Stine’s series of books of the same title, confirmed that Stine is not a scary guy. Black was also interviewed by Michel Martin of NPR and said of Stine, “He’s not a sinister dude at all. He’s a really sweet, fun guy to hang out, with a really great sense of humor.”
Stine told NPR that early in his career, while he was in college, he wrote for humor magazines and even had his own magazine, Bananas, for Scholastic publishers. An editor asked Stine to write a horror novel for teens entitled “Blind Date,” and that was the beginning of Stine’s horror career. When that novel sold well, Stine decided that kids would rather be scared.
“And I thought, forget the funny stuff, the kids want to be scared! So I’ve been scary ever since.”
Apparently Stine was right, he has authored over 400 stories, including novels, short stories and book series since he wrote “Blind Date”. He doesn’t try to be too scary though, he says he tries to balance out the scary and the funny. Stine said that his intention is not to terrify kids, so if there is anything really intense, he tries to lighten it up with humor. He has also given Jack Black the same advice while starring in the film Goosebumps.
“Don’t be too scary. You can thrill, but don’t traumatize. Remember, there’s a lot of kids in the audience for my books, so let’s lean into the comedy and have some fun with it.”
Goosebumps the movie features more than 40 monsters from the series, and with Jack Black at the helm, it should be a great treat for kids as well as adults. Most adults in their thirties grew up with Stine’s books and have introduced their children to the author. Reviews of Goosebumps say the movie is a “hoot for kids and adults,” and that Jack Black “brings Goosebumps to hilarious, hair-raising life.”
Other book series Stine has written are Fear Street, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The Nightmare Room. Stine has been called the “Stephen King of children’s literature,” and rightly so. Stine has also written a trilogy, Space Cadets, two gamebooks for Hark, and several joke books. To add to that, Stine has written several stand-alone novels, anthologies, short stories and has contributed to several other series including Horror High. Goosebumps was also adapted into a TV series from 1995 until 1998.
R. L. Stine has clearly learned to balance humor with horror and the film Goosebumps highlights both horror and comedy. Stine is portrayed in the film by Black as an author who finds out his characters come to life and keeps them hidden in his books to keep others safe. Once the monsters escape from the books… well, you will just have to see the movie to find out what happens then. Did you read Goosebumps or any other books by R. L. Stine when you were a child? If you have children, would you let them read books by R. L. Stine?
[Lead Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images]