We caught up with Stine to discuss writing tips, challenging himself and his favorite scary books. Check out the highlights from our interview below…
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring horror writers?
A: There’s no formula. I think you have to create a very close point of view. You have to be in the eyes of the narrator. Everything that happens, all the smells, all the sounds; then your reader starts to identify with that character and that’s what makes something really scary.
I did something very different with Red Rain. Every Goosebumps book is from one point of view; one girl or one boy telling the story. That keeps it very close and very scary. With Red Rain, I gave myself a challenge. What if I had five or six points of view? Could I still do it? Could I still make it creepy? I did a lot of things just to challenge myself in writing for adults.
The other big elements are shock and surprises! You don’t want a linear plot. You want to have twists in there that the reader will stop and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that.’
Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: My very first book deal was for funny books. I wrote maybe one hundred joke books and funny books. I was working as an editor at Scholastic for sixteen years. I was editing and writing a humor magazine for kids called Bananas. I was having a great time; it was really fun.
One day, an editor from Dutton called me and said, ‘I love your magazine. I’ll bet you can write funny children’s books. Why don’t we have lunch?’ I had lunch with her, we talked and I wrote a book called How to be Funny. That was my first book. Everything that ever happened to me was an accident.
Q: What are your favorite scary books?
A: I always mention Ray Bradbury‘s book, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I read when I was much younger and it totally creeped me out.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: We keep doing more Goosebumps. I’m still writing six Goosebumps books a year. The TV show, The Haunting Hour, is doing really well. We’re just starting our third season. That’s fun. It’s ongoing. If people like Red Rain, I’ll do more adult.