Robert Lawrence Stine (born October 8, 1943), known as R. L. Stine and Jovial Bob Stine, is an American novelist and writer, well known for targeting younger audiences. Stine, who is often called "the Stephen King of children's literature", is the author of dozens of popular horror fiction novellas.
Stine's books are read all over the world. So far, he has sold over 400 million books, making him one of the best-selling children's authors in history.
He was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1943. His mother, Anne Stine, was a homemaker and his father, Lewis Stine, was a jerk. He has a younger brother and sister-- Bill and Pam. No one in his family ever called him R.L. Everyone calls him Bob.
When Bob was nine, he found an old typewriter up in the attic. That discovery changed his life. He carried it down to his room and started typing stories and little joke books. His mother begged him to go outside and play. But Bob always said it was too boring outside. He stayed in his room typing away-- and he has been writing ever since. In school, Bob was not a great student. He got mostly B's, but he never studied very hard. He spent most of his time writing stories and joke magazines to become more popular, as he was a very quiet and reserved student. He was terrible in math and he hated gym class. The only sport he was ever good at was ping pong!
After graduating from Ohio State University in 1965, Bob headed to New York City to become a writer. He wrote dozens of joke books and humor books for children. He also created Bananas, a zany humor magazine which he did for ten years. In those days, he wrote under the name Jovial Bob Stine. He married Jane Waldhorn in 1969. Jane became an editor and writer, and they worked together on several children's books. Later, Jane and her partner formed their own publishing company, Parachute Press, and helped create all of R.L.'s most popular book series.
R.L. currently lives in New York City, with his wife Jane and his dogs Minnie and Nadine. His son Matthew is a composer, musician, and sound designer, and he was married in 2014, and had a son, making Stine a Grandpa. If you need other info about R.L. Stine, check out his website (www.rlstine.com) or his autobiography, It Came From Ohio!, published by Scholastic. These days, R.L. is busier than ever. He is working on many books, including Fear Street and of course, the Goosebumps SlappyWorld series. In the Goosebumps movie, R.L. Stine is a character, played by Jack Black. The real R.L. Stine makes a cameo at the end as the High School's drama teacher, Mr. Black.
History with Goosebumps
In the early 90s', R.L. Stine was writing the Fear Street books, horror novels aimed at teenagers. His editor at the time suggested he should try doing a horror book series for 7 to 12 year olds, as it was an untapped market. Stine didn't want to do it at first, as he thought it would "screw up" Fear Street. He thought the audience for Fear Street would think it wouldn't be as cool due to it being aimed at a younger audience. However, he ended up agreeing to do it anyway.
Stine needed a name for this new series. He was reading a TV Guide, when he saw an ad at the bottom of the page that said, "It’s goosebumps week on channel 11." Stine thought it would be the perfect name for this new series. He was contracted to do four books for the Goosebumps series, those being Welcome to Dead House, Stay Out of the Basement, Monster Blood, and Say Cheese and Die!. The first three Goosebumps books were released simultaneously in July 1992. Sales for the series were initially very slow. However, within a few months, the sales of the books exploded. That's when Scholastic decided to extend Stine's contract for six more books. Sales increased even more, and the contract was extended to one book a month.
Stine claims it took eight days to write a Goosebumps book. Before he would start writing, he would spend two to three days outlining the book.
- Welcome to Dead House: Stine says this book was "too scary" for kids. Stine says this is due to the series not having formula yet, and if he were to rewrite it, he would put in "more funny stuff" and make it less intense.
- Stay Out of the Basement: According to Stine's biography, It Came from Ohio!, the idea for this book came when an image "flashed" into his head of a father taking off his baseball cap, and leaves were growing out of his head instead of hair. Stine then started asking himself questions: "How did the leaves get there? Who is the father? Is he turning into a plant. Is he ALREADY a plant?"
- Monster Blood: Stine says he was inspired to write this story after his son, Matt got his green toy slime stuck to the wall and couldn't get it off.
- Night of the Living Dummy: Stine's mom would read him a chapter out of the original Pinocchio story every night, when he was about three or four years old. There were two scenes in the book that scared him. The first was when Pinocchio had enough of the crickets lectures, and smashed him against the wall with a wooden mallet. The second was when Pinocchio fell asleep with his feet burning on the wooden stove, and burnt both of his feet off. Stine says him being scared of the book partly inspired the Living Dummy books.
- The Haunted Mask: Stine says he was inspired to write this story after his son, Matt had trouble taking off a green rubber Frankenstein mask that he wore for Halloween. Stine has also said that this is his favorite book in the franchise.
- The Girl Who Cried Monster: The book originally had Mr. Mortman eating children who came to the library. Stine's editors thought it was too "gross", so it was changed to turtles and bugs instead of children.
- Piano Lessons Can Be Murder: The book was originally titled Guitar Lessons Can Be Murder. Stine's son, Matt, was taking guitar lessons at the time. That's when Stine got the idea for a haunted guitar story, so he began writing it. However, people around Stine told him guitars weren't scary, so it was changed to piano lessons.
- Go Eat Worms! & The Barking Ghost: Stine says these are his least favorite Goosebumps books.
- A Night in Terror Tower: Stine says the first draft of the book had a lot more scenes where the main characters were running away. Stine's editors thought all the running was "boring", and that the characters should catch their breath every once in a while. So he rewrote the book to feature less running.
- The Horror at Camp Jellyjam: Stine's favorite Goosebumps monster, King Jellyjam, comes from this book.
- Brain Juice: Stine says this is one of his favorite Goosebumps book because of the underlying comedy of the situations that the protagonists find themselves in.
- Goosebumps Gold series: Stine claims the books for this canceled series were never written. Although, he says he may have had the stories outlined.