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R. L. Stine
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R. L. Stine   R. L. Stine is the #1 bestselling children’s author in the world with over 300 million books sold in over 30 languages. In fact, for three consecutive years during the 1990s, USA Today named Stine as America's number one bestselling author. He’s best known for his Fear Street, Goosebumps, and Rotten School series. The Goosebumps TV show was the #1 kids' show in the U.S. for three years in a row. R. L. Stine received the Disney Adventures Kids' Choice Award and the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award three times, plus the Thriller Writers of America Silver Bullet Award.

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This episode originally aired on 01/21/2010 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with R. L. Stine

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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

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Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you a bonus question here.

R. L. Stine: Yeah. Okay.

Matthew Peterson: What’s a funny, or rather scary, experience you’ve had with a parent or a child at on of your book events?

R. L. Stine: With a parent or a child. [laughs] A couple things come to mind. Once I had a couple, a girl and a boy, who when they got up--I was at a book signing--when they got up to the table to get their books signed, they couldn’t stop giggling. They couldn’t talk to me or anything. They just... They started giggling and they couldn’t stop. And I just thought that was the oddest thing. These kids were just giggling and giggling. And I was talking to Anne Martin, who wrote The Babysitter’s Club.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: You know, those books that were so huge before Goosebumps, for girls.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: And she said she had gigglers--she had a lot of gigglers--but she also had fainters.

Matthew Peterson: Oh!

R. L. Stine: ‘Cause she had this all-girl audience, you know, lining up.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.

R. L. Stine: And she had girls who would actually faint when they got to the front of the line. And I always felt bad that I never had a fainter.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

R. L. Stine: [laughs] You know?

Matthew Peterson: Especially with all these scary books.

R. L. Stine: I just had the gigglers, I never got a fainter.

Matthew Peterson: How funny. I hear that they’re going to start up The Babysitter’s Club books or do some new ones.

R. L. Stine: Yes, I saw that in the Times. Yep. I guess because of the resuscitation of Goosebumps, now they’re going to resuscitate that... You have 10-year olds?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I have twins. Red-headed twin boys.

R. L. Stine: Oh, man.

Matthew Peterson: I mean they definitely would enjoy your books.

R. L. Stine: Yeah, we like 10-year olds. My son, his claim to fame is that he never read one.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, really?

R. L. Stine: He was the right age. Isn’t that horrible?

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

R. L. Stine: He read only Garfield comics.

Matthew Peterson: Oh! Which are good, which are good, but . . .

R. L. Stine: [laughs] That’s all he read, he just read Garfield comics. He was showing Dad, you know? He was showing me. He would bring them in for his friends, the Goosebumps books, but he never read one.

Matthew Peterson: Ahh. Ohhh. [laughs]

R. L. Stine: Just to make Dad nuts.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, man.

R. L. Stine: His whole childhood! He read Garfield. That’s it, Garfield! Then he went off to college, and he was an English major. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] An English major.

R. L. Stine: Yeah! From Garfield comics. He was an English major. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: That’s funny. I guess you can learn a lot from Garfield.

R. L. Stine: I guess! He did very well, too. Fine.

Matthew Peterson: My boys are my biggest fans. I just have one book out [Paraworld Zero], and they’re just so excited. They’ve read the second one [Magical Learning]. The second one hasn’t been published, but they are definitely my biggest fans. And so it is a nice thing.

R. L. Stine: It’s nice.

Matthew Peterson: I can imagine... just Garfield. I read Garfield when I was a kid.

R. L. Stine: [laughs] Drives you crazy!

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yep.

Extra Material That was Cut from the Radio Show Because of Time Constraints

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Matthew Peterson: So that’s a big switch. You know, going from funny to scary.

R. L. Stine: Well, I don’t think it is. I think they’re very closely connected. And when I write like the Goosebumps books and I come like to the end of a chapter, I’ll put in a joke. There’ll be a punch line. I see like that chapter ends as punch lines to jokes. I think there’s a very close connection between horror and humor. When you go to a horror movie, you hear people screaming and you hear them laughing at the same time.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.

R. L. Stine: Horror always makes me laugh.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: I don’t know, I never get scared in a movie. I just... I always find it funny.

Matthew Peterson: And with the twist endings, same thing, ‘cause you’re like laughing to yourself, “Oh I didn’t see that coming.” Yeah, exactly.

R. L. Stine: Right.

Matthew Peterson: And you’re very famous for that... with your twist endings.

R. L. Stine: That teasing quality.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: Is there a chance that we might see Fear Street, those books, as a television series?

R. L. Stine: Well, I don’t think so. The Fear Street series ended, I don’t know eight years ago, nine years ago. And I haven’t killed off any teenagers in a long time.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah.

R. L. Stine: Which was, you know, a lot of fun for me, but Disney has the movie rights to Fear Street.

Matthew Peterson: Uh, huh.

R. L. Stine: And we’re trying to see if we can get them to move on something.

Matthew Peterson: Are there any plans for some more movies in the future?

R. L. Stine: We’re working on it. You never know.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: You know, I live in New York. I like being in New York. And L.A. is out there somewhere, and every once and a while they’ll make something.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: I know these books have a common theme. A Trip to Thriller House and a gift shop where someone takes an item back with them and something interesting happens. Is there anything you can tell us about the next book, The Little Shop of Hamsters?

R. L. Stine: Well, it’s at Horrorland Theme Park, the scariest place on earth. There is a little souvenir shop called Chiller House, which is run by a man named Jonathan Chiller, who’s very creepy because some kids come to buy their souvenirs, he says, “Oh don’t pay me now. You can pay me next time.”

Matthew Peterson: Ooooh.

R. L. Stine: And you think, “What, next time? What does that mean?” And in book 19, the last of this arc, they’ll find out what “next time” is when they find themselves all back in Horrorland facing Jonathan Chiller.

Matthew Peterson: And we should get that last one by the end of this year? 2010, hopefully?

R. L. Stine: I think. Yeah, yeah, I think by the end of this year.

Matthew Peterson: What other books do you have in mind in the future? I know you’ve written some for adults. You’ve written some for teenagers and some for younger audiences. What can we expect from you in the future?

R. L. Stine: Right now I’m just concentrating on Goosebumps Horrorland. You know, I didn’t do any Goosebumps for eight years, so I’m really having a lot of fun being back with it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: I have a few other ideas. I’d like to do some more teenage stuff, and I haven’t done that for a while. Right now I’m sort of concentrating on Goosebumps.

Matthew Peterson: Do you think you’ll ever go back to writing like a joke book? Or just pure humor?

R. L. Stine: Well, I did the Rotten School series for Harper, which was 16 books, which was just crazy. Just funny. It was the rottenest school on earth. And all these rotten teachers and rotten kids. And I had a great time, and I got to be funny for a year and a half. And not scare kids.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. L. Stine: So I might do that again. I love that. For me, actually, writing funny books is easier than writing the scary books.

Matthew Peterson: Well, you have to come up with jokes. That’s one of the hardest things for me... Is to just think of something funny. And you know, when you’re writing for kids, usually it’s something gross. [laughs] You know, they like gross things.

R. L. Stine: True. That helps. That helps a lot.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] I mean there’s a reason why Sponge Bob Square Pants is so popular, and what’s the other one, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

R. L. Stine: Oh, Sponge Bob is hilarious.

Matthew Peterson: And Captain Underpants.

R. L. Stine: The Sponge Bob stuff is really funny.

Matthew Peterson: Yep, yep.

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