Q&A: R.L. Stine to give Tucson ‘Goosebumps’

R.L. Stine has frightened and delighted audiences for decades with series like the famed “Goosebumps,” and with the 20th anniversary of the series approaching, and an appearance at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend, the Daily Wildcat sat down with Stine to learn a little more about him, his work, his struggles and why he’s coming to Tucson this weekend.

Daily Wildcat: What will you be doing at the Tucson Festival of Books?

Stine: I’ll be talking about all the new books. And mainly, I hope a lot of kids come, and we’ll be writing a ghost story together. I like to do that, and I’ll tell a few ghost stories.

You’ve written countless works that have scared, humored and generally entertained kids for more than two decades. Out of everything you’ve written, what’s been the most difficult to write?

I have a hard novel for adults coming out in October. It’s called “Red Rain.” It’s a big, hardcover novel for grown-ups — that was the hardest thing to write. Kids stuff is very easy for me and a lot of fun, but I found it very hard to write for adults. It’s a very different process.

What do you think the difference is?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit. When I write a scary book for kids, I have to make sure it’s not real — that it’s not believable at all. I don’t really want to terrify kids, so I have to make sure that they know it’s a fantasy, that it couldn’t really happen. But when you write horror for adults, you have to be very believable. You’re not going to scare adults unless they believe that this really is happening.

Is adult fiction a whole new genre for you?

Ten years ago, I did a hardcover horror novel — real horror — called “Superstitious.” It’s about the most superstitious man in the world, and he had really good reason to be. It was a very gory, gruesome book. And then I did a couple little paperbacks for grown-ups. But now so many of my readers have grown up. All the kids who read “Goosebumps” in the early ‘90s, they’re all in their 20s and 30s and so I thought I would write something to try and keep in touch with my old readers.

So why horror? Why didn’t you stick with your joke and humor books?

Well, no one wanted them. (Laughs) I wrote about 100 joke books for kids … and then I did my first scary novel for teenagers, a book called “Blind Date.” It was an immediate No. 1 bestseller. It was huge. And I was like, “Wait a minute, I’ve struck a chord here. I’ve found something kids really like; this is amazing.” And then I wrote a second one, called “Twisted,” and it was a No. 1 bestseller. I thought, “Kids like to be scared,” so I’ve been scary ever since. I never planned it, I never planned to write scary books. I always enjoyed horror when I was a kid but I always wanted to be funny. I never thought I’d be a scary guy.

What’s next for you?

This is a big year for me, because it’s the 20th anniversary year of “Goosebumps.” So we have a big hardcover. The very first hardcover “Goosebumps” book is coming out in July. So I’m going to be doing a lot with that. And then in October, “Red Rain” will come out. So this is a big year for me.


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