A generation of millennials was raised on the books of R.L. Stine - first with Goosebumps, and then with his YA horror novel series Fear Street. These young adult thrillers offered up slashers, body switches, and evil cheerleaders, all within the confines of about 200 pages. And the best part about the books is they never seemed to end. Even after the series was put out to pasture in 2005, the desire to be scared by the master of young adult horror was so palpable that Stine brought back the Fear Street series in 2014.
Stine’s young adult books take place in a visceral nightmare world that's both scarier and steamier than you remember. And they’re much more than just Sweet Valley High with guts and gore - Stine loves to scare his readers, especially after they take a wrong turn down Fear Street.
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Stine Feels Comedy And Horror Are Related
Before he was the Stephen King of YA horror, R.L. Stine wrote joke books under the name "Jovial Bob Stine." Since both comedy and horror require a "punchline," it makes sense that Stine would transition so easily from one genre to the other.
Stine told The Daily Beast, "When I go to a horror movie, and the shark comes up and is chewing the girl, and the girl is screaming, I’m the one in the theater who’s laughing.”
He continued this train of thought while speaking with The Big Thrill: "To me, there’s a very close connection between humor and horror. I always go to a horror movie and laugh - sometimes I feel cheated that I don’t have the same reactions others have. I don’t get scared."
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Stine Has Two Favorite 'Fear Street' Novels
While speaking with Vulture in 2013, Stine revealed his two favorite Fear Street novels. They each involve characters who are diabolical, which says something about Stine and the characters he enjoys writing. Stine said:
One is called Switched. Every once in a while someone brings it up. It's about two girls who go out to this magic rock in the forest and switch bodies just for the fun of it, but one of the girls has tricked the other... There's also Silent Night, that’s a Christmas one. Reva Dalby is the daughter of a guy who owns the big department store in Shadyside. She's rich and mean and terrible to her poor cousins, and everyone hates her. She was really fun to write.
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Christopher Pike Unwittingly Helped Start 'Fear Street'
In a twist fit for Shadyside, Fear Street came about after fellow YA horror author Christopher Pike got into a fight with his editor, prompting them to reach out to Stine. The editor knew Stine from his work with their children's joke books and hired him to write Blind Date, a standalone novel from 1986 that's very much the prototype for Fear Street.
One day I was having lunch with an editor, a friend of mine, and she had had a big fight with somebody writing teenage horror. Who will remain nameless. Christopher Pike. And she said, 'I'm not working with him again. I'll bet you could write good horror. Go home and write a novel for teenagers. Call it Blind Date.' She even gave me the title. It's embarrassing! It wasn't my idea.
Regardless of whose idea it was, the book was a hit, and Stine wrote another YA thriller the following year. He had so much fun with the books that he pitched the Fear Street series so he could write multiple books every year.
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'Fear Street' Novels Are Written In About Two Weeks
To say that Stine is prolific is an understatement. When interest in Goosebumps and Fear Street was at its peak, Stine wrote a dozen or more books every year under each banner. While it sounds like a headache from both a narrative and scheduling standpoint, the author claims writing that much isn't a big deal.
Stine told The Big Thrill, "I’m sort of a machine. I treat writing just like a job and write 2,000 words, five to six times a week. I’m just cut out for this, I guess - it’s all I’ve really ever been good at."
He gives most of the credit for his word count prowess to his knack for outlining. "You can’t get writer’s block if you do that much planning. Once I’ve finished the outline I can just enjoy writing the story."