13 Things You Want to Know About R.L. Stine
Find out the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the author who gave us Goosebumps!
- Grades: 3–5
R.L. Stine is most famous for his Goosebumps books, but there’s a lot more to this prolific author than his scary stories. Do you know what R.L. stands for? Or what his favorite book is? Read on to find out.
What does R.L. stand for?
R.L. Stine’s full name is Robert Lawrence Stine. "When I was a joke book writer," he says, "I was known as Jovial Bob Stine. When I started writing horror, I decided to use my intials because they sounded more serious."
When and where was he born?
R.L. Stine was born on October 8, 1943, in Columbus, Ohio. He grew up in Bexley, Ohio, with his parents and his younger brother and sister.
How did Stine do in school?
Stine was not a straight-A student, and he says he didn’t study very hard. But Stine loved to write. He spent his time writing stories, comics, and jokes. In high school, he joined the school newspaper.
Where does he live now?
Stine lives in New York City with his wife, Jane, and their dog, Minnie.
What is he doing today?
How does Stine write a book?
“When I write, I always like to know the title first,” says Stine. “Then, I have to know the ending, because when I write it, I can figure out how to fool or surprise the reader.” He makes an outline of the entire book, chapter by chapter, before he really starts to write. When he’s done with the book, he gives the manuscript to his wife, who is an editor, to read. He says she is “a very hard editor.”
Where does he write his books?
Stine has a writing studio in his apartment. He keeps a tribal mask, a skeleton, and a three-foot-long cockroach there to create an eerie atmosphere.
Where do all of the scary ideas come from?
Some book ideas come from Stine’s real life. He explains, “One Halloween, my son, Matt, put on a green rubber Frankenstein mask and then had trouble pulling it off. That gave me the idea for The Haunted Mask.” Stine also says that although he does not base his characters on people he knows, he does sometimes use their names.
How does he come up with those creepy and clever titles?
Stine says, “I just walk along and a title pops into my head. Like I'll think, ‘Little Shop of Hamsters’...hmmm… What could I do about hamsters?”
How successful has Goosebumps been for R.L. Stine?
Goosebumps is now one of the best-selling children’s series of all-time—with more than 350 million English language books in print, plus an additional 50+ million international copies in print in 32 languages.
Stine has had a lot of practice being a writer, so what does he have to say to kids who want to write?
“If you want to be a writer,” he says, “read as many different writers as you can. Soak up the styles. You can learn all kinds of ways to say things.” He advises young writers to write every day. “Think of it this way,” he says. “When you write, you are a writer!”
Speaking of reading, what is Stine’s favorite horror novel?
Stine’s favorite horror novel is Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. It tells the story of two boys who get tangled in the nightmares of a mysterious traveling carnival. Stine started reading Ray Bradbury’s work when he was 9 or 10 years old and says that Bradbury was the first writer to inspire him.
R.L. Stine is pretty brave, but is he truly fearless?
“I have one phobia,” Stine admits. “I can’t jump into water. I have to step into a swimming pool; I can’t jump or dive in. My nephews think it’s a riot that a scary guy like me is afraid to jump into a pool!”