"I’m on Twitter all day just to avoid writing,” R.L. Stine joked during a panel at New York Comic Con last weekend, “it’s a great distraction — and it’s wonderful to hear from the 90s kids, my original readers.”
At long last, 23 years in the making, to be exact, Stine’s classic “Goosebumps” tales hit the big screen tomorrow, with Jack Black playing the role of Stine.
The author said his fans — several of whom attended the panel — who grew up pouring over his not-so-scary children’s books, like to tell him about how “Goosebumps” nestled in them a lifelong love of reading. Some of them grew up to become bloggers, writers and editors themselves.
"They say, 'I wouldn’t be a librarian today if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be a writer today, thank you for getting me through a hard time.'"
@RL_Stine’s Twitter bio says it all. It reads: My job: to terrify kids
While Stine himself is rather difficult to scare (see below), one aspect of the film truly spooked him: realizing he was too old to play himself.
"How horrifying is that, to be too old to play yourself?,” Stine, now 72, told the panel.
In honor of “Goosebumps” hitting theaters, here are 7 things you may not have known about R.L. Stine.
1) Stine believes his scariest “Goosebumps” book is the very first one, “Welcome To Dead House.”
"I wanted to do scary books for 7-to-12 year olds,” Stine said at New York Comic Con. “It hadn’t been done before and I hadn’t quite gotten the formula of humor,” he said. “I’ve always thought ‘Welcome To Dead House’ was too scary… I kind of got it by the second book, but I didn’t have it for the first book.”
2) Cellphones are the bane of his existence — as a writer, at least.
Think about it: Today your cell phone is your flashlight, your internet, your clock, and oh yeah — the telephone you can use to call for help. Not so much back in 1992. “Cellphones have ruined every plot,” Stine told the New York Comic Con panel. In the latest installment of his “Fear Street” series, a girl is invited to a party on a desert island where a killer is running rampant. “Today, they would pick up their cellphones, call for help, and the book would be over,” Stine said. Conveniently, the author worked around the cell phone achilles heel by having the party’s host confiscate cell phones at the beginning. Now that’s terrifying.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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. We have social media to thank for the 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.
6) 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.
7) 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?