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Long before J.K. Rowling showed up, R.L. Stine had his own section of the bookstore. These two authors have some key things in common: They both prefer initials to first names, and they’ve both written series that get even the most reluctant readers interested.
But there are some key differences: While it took Rowling a decade to publish seven books featuring boy wizard Harry Potter, Stine has been known to publish upwards of seven books a year. And as of now, Rowling hasn’t received nine Daytime Emmy nominations, a trick Stine pulled off this year with “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.” The show, entering its fourth season on The Hub in the fall, is up for Best Children’s Show, and it’s got the twist endings and scary surprises you’ll remember from your days with "Goosebumps," "Fear Street" or any of Stine’s other book series.
The first "Goosebumps" book celebrated its 20 anniversary in 2012 (now, that’s scary), so there are plenty of former readers introducing their own kids to the world of R.L. Stine via the show. But if you haven’t been keeping up with the author recently, here are five things you may not know about him.
- He doesn’t get scared.
Think about it. This is a man who has delivered spine-tingling tales filled with ventriloquist dummies, haunted houses and evil cheerleaders since 1986, and none of it bothers him. No nightmares. According to an interview with Harper Collins Publishers, he dreams of bologna sandwiches. Horror, he told WBEZ, just makes him laugh. Stine’s also not scared of deadlines and claims he’s never suffered from writer’s block, which perhaps explains how he’s been able to write more than 300 books.
- He's all for judging books by their covers.
Sure, we’re told that it’s what’s on the inside that matters, but Stine hooks readers before they even open his books. That’s how he hooks himself, too -- NPR reports that the author usually comes up with the titles of his books first, and then he writes a story to go with it. So if you were ever intrigued by "Goosebumps" titles like “Brain Juice” or “Welcome to Camp Nightmare” or “Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes,” well, Stine was, too.
- He’s staking out new sections of the bookstore.
Craving a good Stine spookfest, but feeling too old to be caught reading anything off of Fear Street? In 2012, Stine released “Red Rain,” a horror book for adults. It features something we can all agree is creepy: a set of identical twins with dark secrets. And if you don’t have time to read the whole novel, you can also follow the author on Twitter (@RL_Stine) for miniature scares. In fact, we have social media to thank for the new book. In an interview with The Atlantic Wire, Stine said that he wrote “Red Rain” because his grown fans were sending him so many Tweets asking for an age-appropriate book.
- He’s interviewed the Beatles.
All right -- this one’s a stretch. Did Stine actually sit down with John, Paul, George and Ringo? Well, no. But he was paid to pretend that he did, and he didn’t get in trouble for fabricating the conversation or publishing it. Stine told the Village Voice that one of his first jobs in the 1960s was making up interviews with all sorts of famous figures, including the Fab Four, for celebrity magazines.
- He knows what to do with his money.
So, you forked over countless weeks’ worth of allowance to build up your "Goosebumps" stockpile. Dying to know what happened to it? R.L. Stine has said that one of his few luxuries is a home with a big waterslide in the backyard. How cool is that?