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Robert Lawrence Stine (born October 8, 1943), known as R. L. Stine and Jovial Bob Stine, is an American novelist and writer, well known for targeting younger audiences. Stine, who is often called "the Stephen King of children's literature", is the author of dozens of popular horror fiction novellas.

Stine's books are read all over the world. So far, he has sold over 400 million books, making him one of the best-selling children's authors in history.

Personal life

R.L. Stine was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1943. He was the son of Anne and Lewis Stine. He would eventually have a younger brother and sister, respectively Harlan Williams Stine (also known as Bill) and Pamela Stine. No one in his family ever called him R.L. Everyone calls him Bob. He decided to call himself R.L. Stine when he started publishing horror novels, because he wanted everyone to think he was a female.

When Bob was nine, he found an old typewriter up in the attic. That discovery changed his life. He carried it down to his room and started typing stories and little joke books. His mother begged him to go outside and play, but Bob always said it was too boring outside. He stayed in his room typing away — and he has been writing ever since. In school, Bob was not a great student; he got mostly B's, but he never studied very hard. He spent most of his time writing stories and joke magazines to become more popular, as he was a very quiet and reserved student. He was terrible in math and he hated gym class; the only sport he was ever good at was ping pong!

After graduating from Ohio State University in 1965, Bob headed to New York City to become a writer. He wrote dozens of joke books and humor books for children. He also created Bananas, a zany humor magazine which he did for ten years. In those days, he wrote under the name Jovial Bob Stine. He married Jane Waldhorn in 1969. Jane became an editor and writer, and they worked together on several children's books. Later, Jane and her partner formed their own publishing company, Parachute Press, and helped create all of Stine's most popular book series.

Stine currently resides in New York City, with his wife Jane and his dogs Minnie and Nadine. His son Matthew is a composer, musician, and sound designer. Matt was married in 2014, and had a son, making Stine a grandparent.

History with Goosebumps

In the early 90s', R.L. Stine was writing the Fear Street books, horror novels aimed at teenagers. His editor at the time suggested he should try doing a horror book series for 7 to 12 year olds, as it was an untapped market. Stine didn't want to do it at first, as he thought it would "screw up" Fear Street. He thought the audience for Fear Street would think it wouldn't be as cool due to it being aimed at a younger audience. However, he ended up agreeing to do it anyway.

Stine needed a name for this new series. He was reading a TV Guide, when he saw an ad at the bottom of the page that said, "It’s goosebumps week on channel 11." Stine thought it would be the perfect name for this new series. He was contracted to do four books for the Goosebumps series, those being Welcome to Dead House, Stay Out of the Basement, Monster Blood, and Say Cheese and Die!. The first three Goosebumps books were released simultaneously in July 1992. Sales for the series were initially very slow. However, within a few months, the sales of the books exploded. That's when Scholastic decided to extend Stine's contract for six more books. Sales increased even more, and the contract was extended to one book a month.

Stine claims it took eight days to write a Goosebumps book. Before he would start writing, he would spend two to three days outlining the book. He said the books about summer camp were the hardest to write, since he never went to summer camp.[1]

  • Welcome to Dead House: Stine describes this as being the scariest Goosebumps book,[2] even going as far to say it's too scary for kids. Stine says this is due to the series not having formula yet, and if he were to rewrite it, he would put in "more funny stuff" and make it less intense.[3]
  • Stay Out of the Basement: According to the 1998 version of Stine's biography, It Came from Ohio!, the idea for this book came when an image "flashed" into his head of a father taking off his baseball cap, and leaves were growing out of his head instead of hair. Stine then started asking himself questions: "How did the leaves get there? Who is the father? Is he turning into a plant. Is he ALREADY a plant?" Stine has also mentioned this as being one of his favorite Goosebumps books.[4]
  • Monster Blood: According to It Came from Ohio!, Stine was inspired to write this book after his son, Matt got his green toy slime stuck to the wall and couldn't get it off.[5]
  • Say Cheese and Die!: Stine thought of the title while walking his dog [6] and has said it's one of the titles he's most proud of;[7] as reported in Goosebumps Holiday Collector's Caps Book, Stine initially suggested the title of this book as a joke, figuring the publishers would choose another name. When illustrator Tim Jacobus finished the cover art for this book, Scholastic became concerned that it didn't match the story. So Stine quickly wrote a dream sequence that made the cover fit with the book.[8]
  • Let's Get Invisible!: Stine has said he's fond of this book — and that parts of it were inspired by the 1990 film Flatliners.[9]
  • Night of the Living Dummy: Stine's mom would read him a chapter out of the original Pinocchio story every night, when he was about three or four years old. There were two scenes in the book that scared him. The first was when Pinocchio had enough of the crickets lectures, and smashed him against the wall with a wooden mallet. The second was when Pinocchio fell asleep with his feet burning on the wooden stove, and burnt both of his feet off. Stine says him being scared of the book partly inspired the Living Dummy books.[10]
  • The Girl Who Cried Monster: Stine once stated, "In my original manuscript, the librarian eats a kid. And everyone thought that maybe was going a little too far". To make the story more tame, Mr. Mortman eats turtles instead.[11]
  • Welcome to Camp Nightmare: Stine says the camp in the story was based on his son's camp, which he claims was a "bug-infested swamp". Stine wrote a camp-themed Goosebumps book every summer due to the success of this book.[12]
  • The Ghost Next Door: Stine has described this book as being one of the saddest.[13]
  • The Haunted Mask: Stine says he was inspired to write this story after his son, Matt had trouble taking off a green rubber Frankenstein mask that he wore for Halloween.[14] Stine has also said that this is his favorite book in the franchise,[15] and that he would enjoy seeing a film adaptation of it.[16]
  • Piano Lessons Can Be Murder: The book was originally titled Guitar Lessons Can Be Murder. Stine's son, Matt, was taking guitar lessons at the time. That's when Stine got the idea for a haunted guitar story, so he began writing it. However, people around Stine told him guitars weren't scary, so it was changed to piano lessons.[3]
  • The Werewolf of Fever Swamp: According to the Goosebumps Official Collector's Caps Book, Stine was inspired to write this book after he visited Florida and saw a deer during a boat ride.
  • One Day at HorrorLand: According to the 2015 rerelease of It Came from Ohio!, Stine drew maps of HorrorLand so he could picture where each attraction would be while writing the book. He also said it's one of his favorite Goosebumps books.[17]
  • Why I'm Afraid of Bees: Stine has said that this book was written because he knew a lot of people were afraid of bees, and he imagined the horror of a human being trapped inside a hive.[18]
  • Deep Trouble: According to the Goosebumps Holiday Collector's Caps Book, Stine was given the suggestion of writing a book with sharks by his nephew Dan. Stine once said that, if he could be any Goosebumps character, he may want to be Billy Deep because of his exciting life.[14]
  • The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight: Stine says this is one of the scariest Goosebumps books,[2] due to it taking place in a cornfield, which he believes are creepy.[citation needed]
  • Go Eat Worms!: Stine has said that this was one of his least favorite Goosebumps books,[19] and he once specified that he wasn't happy with the overall story.[12] The back cover of this book says Todd finds worms in his spaghetti, but no such scene occurs in the book; when asked if this scene was in a removed chapter, Stine addressed it simply as, "An error."[20]
  • Attack of the Mutant: Stine has described this book as one of his favorites[21] and — in the past — has hinted he would be open to writing a sequel.[22]
  • A Night in Terror Tower: The book was inspired by Stine's trip to the Tower of London.[23] According to It Came from Ohio!, the first draft of the book had a lot more scenes where the main characters were running away. Stine's editors thought all the running was "boring", and that the characters should catch their breath every once in a while. So he rewrote the book to feature less running.[24] At one point, Stine described this as being the scariest Goosebumps book due to the protagonists not knowing their own names.[25]
  • The Cuckoo Clock of Doom: According to the Goosebumps Holiday Collector's Caps Book, while signing books in a mall bookstore, a girl named Tara walked up to Stine and asked him to make her a character in a Goosebumps book. She said that she wanted her character to be bad, so Stine named the character Tara Webster (also known as "Tara the Terrible") after her. Stine has also cited this as being one of his favorite Goosebumps books.[26]
  • It Came from Beneath the Sink!: On Twitter, a user asked R.L. Stine, "Did the previous owner of the killer sponge die? Is that why the kids from the family that moved in suddenly became the owners of it?" Stine jokingly responded with, "I think you need to get a life",[27] suggesting he hadn't thought that far into the matter.
  • The Barking Ghost: Stine has said that this was one of his least favorite Goosebumps books.[19]
  • The Horror at Camp Jellyjam: As reported in Goosebumps Holiday Collector's Caps Book, a working title for this book was Smelly Summer. Stine's favorite Goosebumps monster, King Jellyjam, comes from this book.[3] Stine has also stated this is his second favorite Goosebumps cover.[28] When asked by a fan on Twitter about a potential sequel, Stine jokingly replied "Camp Jellyjam was closed by the Feds",[29] implying there wouldn't be a sequel.
  • Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes: When asked which Goosebumps books could've been better, Stine brought up was this book, stating he wasn't happy with the writing.[12]
  • A Shocker on Shock Street: According to the Goosebumps Holiday Collector's Caps Book, Stine was inspired to write this book after seeing the animatronics at Walt Disney World.
  • The Haunted Mask II: Like The Haunted Mask, Stine said he would enjoy seeing this book adapted to film.[16]
  • Egg Monsters from Mars: Stine says this was his favorite Goosebumps book to write.[30]
  • Ghost Camp: Stine considers this book to be one of the scarier ones he's written.[31][32]
  • Legend of the Lost Legend: Stine mentioned this as being one of his favorite titles.[33][34]
  • Calling All Creeps!: According to It Came from Ohio!, Stine got the idea for this book from a joke he once played when he was in college, but it ended up backfiring on him afterwards.[35] Another inspiration for this book came from Stine finding telephones scary.[36]
  • Chicken Chicken: Stine joked that the plot of this book was "stolen" from Stephen King's novel Thinner.[37]
  • The Curse of Camp Cold Lake: Stine once described this book as being among his scariest works.[38]
  • The Haunted School: Stine stated that he got the idea for this when a group of children approached him in a bookstore, asking if he could write a book about their school, which they said was haunted.[39]
  • Give Yourself Goosebumps: Stine said he enjoyed working on these books,[citation needed] but no publishers were interested in reviving the series.[40]
  • Goosebumps (TV series): Stine appears at the beginning of several episodes. He has described "The Haunted Mask", "A Night in Terror Tower", and Attack of the Mutant" as being his favorite episodes.[41]
  • Cry of the Cat: According to Stine, this is the Goosebumps book that took the longest to write. He claims he wrote three different versions of this book before he and his associates were satisfied with it.[42]
  • Creature Teacher: Stine described this as being his favorite Goosebumps cover [28] and one of his favorite Goosebumps books.[43]
  • Invasion of the Body Squeezers: Part 1 & Part 2: Prior to the release of these books, Stine described the duology as his favorite Goosebumps story at the time of being interviewed.[22]
  • Are You Terrified Yet?: Stine teased the title of this book in August 1997, stating it was going to be a camp-themed book, which ended up not being the case. It's likely Stine confused the plot with that of Fright Camp, which was the book that preceded this one.[12]
  • Brain Juice: Stine teased the title of the book while he was still working on the original series,[44] but he had trouble coming up with a plot.[45] Consequently, the book reportedly wasn't finished until March 1998.[46] Ultimately, Stine would go on to name Brain Juice as one of his favorite Goosebumps books because of the underlying comedy of the situations that the protagonists find themselves in.[47]
  • The Mummy Walks: When Stine was at the Los Angeles International Airport, he saw two parents give their son an envelope, who was boarding a flight by himself for the first time. Stine thought of a scenario where the kid opened the envelope only to find a note that says "we are not your parents." [48] A scene just like this takes place in the book.
  • Goosebumps Gold: Stine claims the books for this canceled series were never written. Although, he says he may have had the stories outlined.[3] He used one of the titles, Slappy New Year, for the nineteenth book in the Goosebumps HorrorLand series. Stine has also said on multiple occasions that The Haunted Mask Lives! was published as The Scream of the Haunted Mask[49] despite claiming to have never written the book.
  • The Streets of Panic Park: Stine once admitted that he didn't consider this book to be one of his scariest.[38]
  • Little Shop of Hamsters: Stine thought of the title for this book while walking his dog in Riverside Park,[15] and it's one of the titles he's most proud of.[7] Stine also described this book as being difficult to write due to him finding it hard to make hamsters scary.[50]
  • Planet of the Lawn Gnomes: Stine was reportedly working on the book as early as October 2011, a full year before the book's release.[51] Stine also mentioned this books as being one of his favorite recent Goosebumps covers.[52]
  • Son of Slappy & Frankenstein's Dog: Stine mentioned these books as being one of his favorite recent Goosebumps covers.[52][53]
  • Goosebumps (film) & Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween: Stine makes cameo appearances near the end of both films. While Stine was supportive of both films, he made the following suggestion for any prospective Goosebumps film adaptations: "I would want them to make it a little scarier and less funny."[54]
  • Attack of the Jack!: Stine originally announced the title as "Jack Attack" in July 2016.[55] Stine says this is one of the recent Goosebumps books he really likes due to it featuring a talking cat, which he claims he was surprised he got away with. At one point, Stine mistakenly said the book is about "jack-o'-lanterns coming to life." [56] It's likely he got it confused with Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns, a book with a very similar title.
  • It's Alive! It's Alive!: Stine got the idea for this book after learning how popular robotics were in schools.[57]

Gallery

Trivia

  • When R.L. Stine is a lot younger he looks like Drew Carey.

See also

References

  1. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "The hardest Goosebumps book to write? The ones about summer camp since I never went to summer camp."
  2. 2.0 2.1 R.L. Stine on Twitter: "I think the scariest Goosebumps is the very first one--Welcome to Dead House. Also: The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight."
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Buzzfeed: 13 Things You Never Knew About The "Goosebumps" Book Series From R.L. Stine Himself
  4. R.L. Stine: "I have several fav GB books: Haunted Mask; Stay Out of the Basement; Cuckoo Clock of Doom."
  5. It Came From Ohio! - R.L. Stine - Google Books: "monster blood"
  6. R.L. Stine: Legacy of Goosebumps (22:28)
  7. 7.0 7.1 R.L. Stine on Twitter: "The story title that made me most proud? Say Cheese and Die... Little Shop of Hamsters..."
  8. R.L. Stine on Building a 'Goosebumps' Empire and the Cameo That Required 25 Takes (mirror)
  9. "I always liked Let's Get Invisible. It was actually inspired by the movie Flatliners." (Twitter) (mirror)
  10. It Came From Ohio! - R.L. Stine - Google Books: "slappy"
  11. R.L. Stine Talks ‘Goosebumps’ Book That Originally Went Too Far (mirror)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" August 12 (Archived)
  13. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "That's one of the saddest ones."
  14. 14.0 14.1 Get Goosebumps With R.L. Stine Webcast
  15. 15.0 15.1 "I'm live at #BookExpo in New York discussing my new books. Anybody have a question for me?"
  16. 16.0 16.1 R.L. Stine Wants 'The Haunted Mask' to Get the 'Goosebumps' Movie Treatment (mirror)
  17. It Came From Ohio! - R.L. Stine - Google Books: "horrorland"
  18. "I wrote it because a lot of people are afraid of bees. And I had this nifty idea to have a boy spend a night inside a beehive." (Twitter) (mirror)
  19. 19.0 19.1 /u/rstine2000 on r/books: "...The Barking Ghost and Go Eat Worms are two books that are not my favorites."
  20. "An error." (Twitter) (mirror)
  21. "Attack of the Mutant was one of my favorites, too." (Twitter) (mirror)
  22. 22.0 22.1 R.L. STINE INTERVIEW -- AOL LIVE CHAT (mirror)
  23. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "Yes. A visit to the Tower of London inspired A Night in Terror Tower."
  24. It Came From Ohio! - R.L. Stine - Google Books: "terror tower"
  25. R.l. Stine on Twitter: "In my opinion, the scariest GB is One Night in Terror Tower. What is scarier than realizing you don't know your own name?"
  26. R.L. Stine: "I have several fav GB books: Haunted Mask; Stay Out of the Basement; Cuckoo Clock of Doom."
  27. "I think you need to get a life." (mirror)
  28. 28.0 28.1 R.L. Stine on Twitter: "My favorite Goosebumps cover was Creature Teacher. 2nd favorite: Camp Jellyjam. Tim Jacobus painted all 87 covers."
  29. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "Camp Jellyjam was closed by the Feds."
  30. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "My favorite GB to write was Egg Monsters from Mars. The entire book takes place in only two scenes!"
  31. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "Warning: Ghost Camp is a very scary one."
  32. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "Ghost Camp was a scary one."
  33. (Part 1) Josh Saltzman on Twitter: "was perusing through a small bookstore and found Goosebumps Legend of the Lost Legend. I bought it because it was one of my faves!"
  34. (Part 2) R.L. Stine on Twitter: "One of my favorite titles, Josh. Glad you enjoyed it."
  35. It Came From Ohio! - R.L. Stine - Google Books: "creeps"
  36. File:Goosebumps 50 Calling All Creeps Bookmark 2 Trading Cards back.jpg
  37. R.L. Stine Talks "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" (YouTube) [21:07]
  38. 38.0 38.1 "I never said that. I've written much scarier books. Camp Cold Lake, for example. Or The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight." (Twitter) (mirror)
  39. The Haunted School trading card
  40. "Because they are all out-of-print and no publisher wants to do new ones." (Twitter) (mirror)
  41. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "The Haunted Mask. Also: Attack of the Mutant. Also: One Night in Terror Tower."
  42. Talk With An Author: R.L. Stine, Creator of Goosebumps (24:16)
  43. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "I just reread CREATURE TEACHER cuz I'm writing a sequel to that book, and I have to say it's one of my all-time favs."
  44. "The Bumps" — "Brain Juice, but that will be something over #60." (archived)
  45. "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" October 14 (archived)
  46. "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" March 16 (archived)
  47. Read this, not that: 'Goosebumps' author R L Stine on his summer book recommendations (mirror)
  48. RL Stine Interview. Goosebumps author talks about career. (3:33)
  49. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "The Haunted Mask Lives was published last year as part of the GB HorrorLand series."
  50. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "A difficult book to write. Very hard to make hamsters scary!"
  51. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "I'm starting to write a GB book called Planet of the Lawn Gnomes."
  52. 52.0 52.1 R.L. Stine: "Fav GB cover illustration? I have 2 new fans-- Planet of the Lawn Gnomes and Son of Slappy."
  53. R.L. Stine on Twitter: "I have many favorites. Frankenstein's Dog is a favorite. Attack of the Lawn Gnomes..."
  54. 'Goosebumps' Creator R.L. Stine Talks the Movies, New Comics, and Sometimes Being Too Scary (mirror)
  55. R.L. Stine on Twitter: An overcast day in Sag Harbor. I'm indoors, writing a new Goosebumps book called "Jack Attack." No, it's not about Jack Black.
  56. R.L. Stine: Legacy of Goosebumps (55:03)
  57. Talk With An Author: R.L. Stine, Creator of Goosebumps (26:37)
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