The Quick 10: Goosebumps and Fear Street
We're going a little more contemporary with today's children's books Q10, partly because I had a lot of requests for it, and partly because I adored R.L. Stine, especially the Fear Street series. I recently discovered a treasure trove of my old books at my parents' house, but there was nary a Stine book among them. I wonder what I did with those... until I find them, these facts will have to tide me (and you) over.
1. There were 62 of the original Goosebumps books (there were several spin-offs) from 1992 to 1997. The first one was called Welcome to Dead House.
2. I've mentioned this on the Q10 before, but it's too interesting to pass up - the man who has spent the past 20-25 years scaring the daylights out of kids (in good fun, of course) was also the creator and head writer of Eureeka's Castle, a children's show on Nickelodeon featuring lovable puppets.
3. I think these stories were pretty harmless - a fun scare for kids who liked to spook themselves a little bit. But obviously some adults disagreed with me - the Goosebumps books were some of the most challenged books of 1990-1999. In fact, at #15 on the Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books list, the Goosebumps was challenged more than Madonna's Sex (#18) and The Anarchist Cookbook (#59).
4. You just never know where inspiration for a story will strike. Stine was out walking his dog when suddenly a book title popped into his head: Say Cheese and Die. He had no plot in mind, but instantly knew it would have to involve an evil camera of some sort. It became the fourth book in the series and was eventually adapted for the Goosebumps T.V. show on Fox Kids. A young Ryan Gosling played the main character, Greg.
5. According to Mr. Stine, Goosebumps is actually more popular in Europe than it is in the United States. In Italy, the series is called Piccoli Brevedi, which means "little shivers."
6. Stine was originally signed to a contract to do just six Goosebumps books - no one expected them to be such a hit. Even though he was a big fan of the horror genre, Stine had never tried writing horror until these books - he had been writing kids' humor and joke books under the name "Jovial Bob Stine."
7. With 250 million Goosebumps books sold and 80 million Fear Streets sold, Stine clearly doesn't lack fans. Not among those legions of "˜Bumpers? His son, Matt. "He has never read one of my books," Stine said once in an interview. "He does it just to make me crazy." However, Matt does have a cameo on the cover of a Fear Street book called Perfect Date. Matt also inspired a character in Eureeka's Castle. Stine's son was rather clumsy as a child but didn't let on that he was hurt or embarrassed when he had accidents - "I meant to do that," was a constant refrain in the Stine household. So R.L. worked him in to the character of Batly, a bat who was not so great at flying but shared Matt's "I meant to do that" mantra whenever his flights ended in disaster.
8. As is common with children's series writers, Stine turned to ghostwriters when kids demanded his books faster than he could write them. He used several ghostwriters, but the one I find most intriguing is Eric Weiner - I bet some of you _flossers are familiar with the name. He's a travel writer and longtime NPR collaborator. But R.L. is no slouch in the writing department - he has said it takes him about 10 days to churn out a Goosebumps book.
9. Stine wrote the movie novelizations for Spaceballs, Big Top Pee-Wee and Ghostbusters II: Storybook.
10. Stine says he has never in his entire life suffered from writer's block, which kind of makes me hate him.
So - favorite Goosebumps or Fear Street book? My favorite was the Fear Street Cheerleaders series. I'm not sure if I should admit that or not, but there you go.