Goosebumps fans are always asking me that question. And it's not an easy one to answer. Think about where you get your own ideas. They come from everywhere. People you meet. Stories. Movies. Dreams. Memories. Thin air!
Because I need at least twenty-four book ideas a year, I find myself thinking about scary stuff all the time. Luckily, I love doing just that. I've spent most of my life dreaming up ideas for stories and books.
A lot of my ideas for Goosebumps books started a long time ago. When I was a kid, I could never get enough stories. I devoured entire library shelves of fairy tales, Greek myths, Norse legends, and folktales. I loved stories on the radio and TV, too.
One of my earliest memories has to do with the story Pinocchio. My mother read me the original version of the tale--which is a lot scarier than the Disney version. In one scene, Pinocchio gets tired of the cricket's constant lectures. So he takes a big wooden mallet and smashes the cricket against the wall. Later, Pinocchio falls asleep with his feet on the wood-burning stove and burns both his feet off!
Thanks to Pinocchio, I always liked the idea of a wooden puppet coming to life. And so I eventually invented Slappy and wrote three Night of the Living Dummy books for the Goosebumps series.
As you might expect, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. I always wanted to be something really scary. A ghost. A mummy. A--duck? One year, my mother bought me a duck suit. Other kids thought it was pretty funny, but I didn't think it was funny at all. When I wrote The Haunted Mask for Goosebumps, I remembered that duck costume and how embarrassing it was. And so I gave Carly Beth, the girl in the book, a duck costume, too.
The idea for the Goosebumps book Stay Out of the Basement all started with a crazy picture that flashed into my mind. I imagined a father taking off his baseball cap. Leaves were growing on his head instead of hair. How did the leaves get there? Who is the father? Is he turning into a plant? Is he ALREADY a plant?...
A few more questions Goosebumps fans love to ask:
What are your favorite Goosebumps books?
Night of the Living Dummy, Stay Out of the Basement, and The Haunted Mask. That's why I picked them for the Goosebumps TV shows.
How long does it take you to write a Goosebumps book?
Eight days. I also spends two or three days outlining each book.
What advice do you have for kids who want to be writers?
Read, read, read. Read as much as you can by as many different authors as you can. That way, without even realizing it, you build a good vocabulary--and you pick up different ways of saying things, of describing the world and the people in it. Nothing is as important for someone who wants to be a writer as reading books by MANY DIFFERENT authors.
So keep reading--and have a scary day!