Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine on Inspiration, Horror and Humor

From what scares him to why nurturing kids' passions is important, the Goosebumps author opened up to Scholastic Parents.

May 20, 2019



Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine on Inspiration, Horror and Humor

May 20, 2019

Author R.L. Stine has been inspiring kids with spooks and laughs for over 30 years. From his universally known classic series like Fear Street and Goosebumps to his more recent picture books like Mary McScary, the prolific author — whose books have been translated into 35 languages — has been infusing comedy and imagination into scary stories for decades. And Goosebumps, which was first published in 1992, is one of the best-selling children's series of all time with more than 400 million English language books in print.

Scholastic Parents' Senior Editorial Director, Serena Kappes, recently sat down with R.L. Stine to learn more about his path to becoming a best-selling author, his own scariest moment, and the inspiration behind his Goosebumps SlappyWorld series.

Watch the video below, and keep reading to find out some of Stine's revelations from the interview.

On Goosebumps

"No one had ever done a horror series for 7 year olds and 10 year olds. I was very reluctant. I wanted something that would be funny and scary. I had to try to figure out how funny they would be. Any time it does get intense, I throw in something funny."  

"I got this word 'goosebumps,' which was perfect, because I wanted something that would be funny and scary. I didn’t really want to scare kids…the books are a tease, kind of a horror tease. I had to try and figure out how funny they would be…and any time [a scene] does get intense, I throw in something funny."

"My favorite [book] is a Goosebumps book called The Haunted Maskthat’s my best Halloween book and it’s the only book inspired by real life."

On the Inspiration Behind His Slappy Character

"When I was a kid, I was fascinated by puppets and dummies,  I had marionettes, I used to put on puppet shows."

"When I was really little…my mother would read me a chapter of a book every day before my nap, and for some reason she picked the original Pinocchio…and there's a chapter which I’ve never forgotten where Pinocchio falls asleep with his feet on the stove and he burns his feet off…there's a reason why I write horror (laughs). And I think some of that came into thinking about [the character] Slappy."



On His Own Influences

"I read only comics when I was a kid, my friends and I, we all had big stacks, we’d walk around and would trade them, we’d sit under a tree in my front yard and read comics…they’re very influential to me."

"One day my mom dropped me off at the little library on Main St. and the librarian called me over and said ‘Bobby, I know you like comic books, I have something I think you will like.’ And she took me over to a shelf of Ray Bradbury stories. And that changed my life, that librarian changed my life. The Ray Bradbury stories were so imaginative, so wonderful, and beautifully written all with great funny twist endings, he turned me into a reader."

On Inspiring Kids to Read

"Let kids read what they want to read, don’t try to force them to read ‘good’ books. I always say it’s really important to let kids find what they like and let them read it."

"The nicest thing about Goosebumps, the nicest thing for me, is all the parents who come up to me and say, ‘My kids never read before until they discovered Goosebumps.’ That’s the real satisfying thing to me."

"I always say kids find themselves. Kids have to do it on their own. Of course, you want to have to have a lot of books in the house, and you want to read a lot, and [then] follow what they want to do."


On HIs Writer’s Process

"I [create] a cheat sheet of every character in the book — I write down the character name and a few characteristics and that really helps me."

"People ask me all the time about writer’s block, and I say ‘if you have an outline, if you know everything that’s going to happen in your book, how could you have writer’s block?’ Now, it’s the fun part, you just write what you dreamed up."

"Sometimes the book just starts with an image, nothing else."

"When you quit [writing] for the day, leave in the middle."

On Horror

"I never get scared. Oh, there’s something missing in my brain. I never had that feeling of being scared -- horror makes me laugh. I think horror’s funny. "


If your kids can't get enough R.L. Stine, check out this list of silly, scary and fun titles your reader is sure to love! 

Shop Goosebumps SlappyWorld Books

Books for boys
Books for girls
Reading Comprehension
Reluctant readers
Raise a Reader Blog
Home libraries
Age 10
Age 12
Age 11
Age 9
Age 8
Age 7
Humor and Positive Thinking
Independent Reading
Ghosts, Monsters, Vampires, Witches
Early Reading
Story Elements
Aliens and UFOs