As R.L. Stine Turns 70, His Thoughts on Scare

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For many of us, adventure in literary form can be traced back to the ‘90s, when mastermind of fear R.L. Stine published hundreds of horror fiction novels, including the books in the Fear Street and Goosebumps series. In keeping with Susan’s Wednesday-freight, here are some of the author’s best five bites – regarding scare- as he turns 70.

What frightened the “Stephen King of children’s literature” as a child? As admitted to Reading Rockets:

1. “I was afraid of lots of things … I had this one fear. I’d have to park my bike in the garage after dark, and I always thought something would be lurking in the garage. I used to take my bike and just throw it in so I wouldn’t have to go in there. That’s a painful way to go through childhood, I think … But in a way, it’s kind of lucky. It helped me out later, because now, when I write these scary books for kids, I can think back to that feeling of panic. I can remember what it felt like, and then I can bring that feeling to my books.”

But what exactly got him interested in horror in the first place? From an interview with Harper Collins, he explains:

2. “[It] was Pinocchio. My mother read it to me every day before naptime when I was three or four. The original Pinocchio is terrifying. First he smashes Jiminy Cricket to death with a wooden mallet. Then he goes to sleep with his feet up on the stove and burns his feet off! I never forgot it!”

With regards to his eclectic selections of fear-inducing novels, does he have any favorites? In an interview with the Village Voice, the writer boasts:

3. “I do have a favorite, but no one ever read it, no one ever liked it. It’s called ‘Brain Juice.’ It has a brain on the cover. It’s about these kids that drink this purple liquid and get smarter and smarter and smarter. They get so smart they lose all their friends, they get kicked out of school, they know too much. Their whole lives are ruined because they’re so brilliant. I think it’s great, but no one ever liked it. There’s this alien from outer space that comes down and realizes that they’re smart enough to be slaves on his planet. As the ship takes them to his planet the liquid makes them get stupider and stupider. I don’t know how much it sold. It’s my favorite, but I never say it is.”

Does anything scare him today? In the same interview with the Village Voice, he adds:

4. “I never get scared. I don’t know what the feeling is. Even as a kid. It’s something lacking up there or something. People say, “Your book keeps giving me chills,” but I don’t know what that feeling is. Horror always makes me laugh. Normal adult things scare me, but not things from a book or a movie.”

And finally, foreshadowing at its very best in the Goosebumps book, Welcome to Dead House:

5. “Where is everyone?” I asked, looking up and down the empty street. “It’s really dead around here, huh?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

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