When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite times of the school year was when the book fair would come to our library and we were allowed to dig through piles of old trade paperback books searching for a new treasure to read. As an avid young reader, I was always on the prowl for new books, and the act of cracking open a maybe-not-so-new book and delving into its story was a real treat.
The children’s literature landscape is as diverse and broad as any other class of book, but I always found myself gravitating toward a fairly narrow category: horror and mystery. For this, my preference was always the work of R. L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series of novels.
R.L. Stine’s books have a way of presenting common horror elements — vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. — in a way that balances the frightening aspects of the monsters with comic relief and resolution that is important to young readers. What’s even better to an avid young reader like myself, R. L. Stine is one of the most prolific writers in the young adult fiction genre, so there was always a new scare for me to get into. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Goosebumps novel, and in that time Mr. Stine has published no less than 164 novels in the series. There is never a shortage of new scary stories for hungry young readers.
The longevity of Stine’s writing career is good in another way. It gives young parents a chance to explore a book series that they enjoyed as kids with their own children as the body of Goosebumps and other books by Stine continues to grow.
The work of Stine has not been confined to the written page, either. Goosebumps has enjoyed television spin-offs and Stine is currently involved in his newest foray onto the small screen: R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.
This new television series based on Stine’s novels delivers the same mix of humor and horror that I remember enjoying in the Goosebumps novels as a child. It features monsters ranging from geriatric vampires to energy draining phantasms, all in a cinematic and suspenseful television show that will make parents and kids alike jump with fear.
Having just entered its third season this October, The Haunting Hour presents a slightly darker tone than his earlier Goosebumps TV series, but is still appropriate for young audiences (although it may be a bit too scary for kids under 7 years old according to the parental guidance rating). It’s definitely a show that the horror aficionado will want to share with their kids as an introduction to the genre.
Stine was kind enough recently to answer a few questions for Nerdy With Children about his novels and his latest work in television.
Q: “Mr. Stine, with more than 300 books to your name, you are probably one of the most prolific writers in the children’s and young adult literature genres. Do you ever find it difficult to come up with fresh material to write about? Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have any exciting new books on the horizon?”
R. L. Stine: “Finding new plot lines and new scares is a real challenge. I’ve done every kind of scary story. But it’s fun for me to find new ways to twist plots and new ways to surprise the reader. I don’t know where the ideas come from, but so far, whenever I need a new idea, one comes to me. I’m writing 6 new Goosebumps books a year. The newest is called Planet of the Lawn Gnomes.”
Q: “Your live action show, The Haunting Hour, is starting its third season on Hub this weekend, and you have a long history writing for television. What do you think the biggest differences are between writing for television and for print? What do you think the biggest challenges are when translating from the written word to live action?”
R. L. Stine: “I wish I had time to write scripts for the show, but I’m too busy turning out new books. I have to rely on others to write the TV scripts, and I have to say, I’ve been so lucky — The Haunting Hour writers are doing an amazing job. Of course, I read every script to make sure it has the combination of humor and horror I think is important for kids’ horror shows.”
You and your kids can catch The Haunting Hour on digital cable and satellite station The Hub Saturdays at 6 p.m. EST, or online at http://www.hubworld.com/rl-stine/shows/the-haunting-hour.