Around this time last year, I was assigned a story for work that involved me checking out local haunted houses and evaluating their various levels of scarytude. Easy enough. There was a wrinkle, though. I was to have a pair of dauntless companions—in this case, beloved Goosebumps author R.L. “Jovial Bob” Stine and Peter Gilmore, current high priest of the Church of Satan (you really can’t make this stuff up).
The other day, I came across some Goosebumps-related Internet ephemera, and realized that I still had R.L. Stine’s email address, which I then used. Stine, author of a bazillion books and a known Wodehouse enthusiast, was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions.
I remember when you and I went out Haunted Housing last year, that you mentioned loving the Kindle? Could you briefly talk about how that happened? Doesn’t it feel kind of blasphemous?
I don’t think it’s blasphemous at all. I think the object is to get people reading. Does it really matter what package or device they use to read? This isn’t mine—I forget where I saw it. But someone wrote: What if we’d been using the Kindle for the past 300 years, and some guy came along with a new thing he invented, called a book. We’d laugh at him. We’d say: “But it only has one story!” “You can’t change the type size!” “You can’t download any more stories into it!” “It’s too heavy to carry!”
I still prefer a book, but the eReaders have a lot to recommend them, especially if they catch on with young people.
Presumably, then, you’re comfortable with technology. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t see R.L. Stine iphone apps coming. How’d that happen?
I think I was one of the first children’s authors to do an online chat, back when it was hard to do, and maybe six kids would show up. I’ve always loved messing around with technology. But I also think it’s important to go where the kids are. My web site—rlstine.com—has all kinds of fun stuff to get readers involved. And my new iPhone app— R.L. Stine’s Haunted House of Sound—seemed like a really fun way to reach my readers.
Here at HTML Giant, we style ourselves as the “internet literature magazine blog of the future.” Is this how you pictured the internet literature magazine blog of the future?
I have to admit I never pictured the internet literature magazine blog of the future until I checked out HTML Giant. Reading through the blog was kind of like being on Mars. All these authors I didn’t know! A lot of it seemed to be from a different planet, which of course, is why it’s so enjoyable.
How’d you stay so prolific over the years? Has your approach to writing varied in that time?
I don’t think I can quit. I wouldn’t know what else to do all day! I don’t think my approach to writing has changed at all. Someone described writing as an “addiction,” and in my case, I’m pretty sure it’s true!