The king of horror for middle-grade readers, Robert Lawrence Stine (1943-) was born on this day in Columbus, Ohio. His popular Goosebumps and Fear Street series are all-time bestsellers, gathering a large audience of readers, many transformed from uninterested to avid readers.
"I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value," he said.
Stine began writing with a passion at age nine, inspired by "Greek myths, Edgar Allen Poe, and baseball stories." Although he only sold one book at his first book signing, his first ghoulish book, Blind Date (1986), still became an instant hit.
"It was a complete surprise to me," recalled Stine. "I realized I'd really struck a chord with kids. They liked scary books!"
The prolific writer, who works for six hours a day to keep up with the demand for his scary tales, creates about two books a month. His books are scary... and funny. "When I write, I try to think back to what I was afraid of or what was scary to me, and try to put those feelings into books," he said.
When asked why his books are so popular, he said, "The stories are not linear: that there are so many surprises and twists in the books, and that things are not what they seem to be. I think kids really appreciate that."
A shy, self-described "nerd" who still types with one finger "at lightning speed," Stine advised young writers in his autobiography, It Came from Ohio: My Life As a Writer (1998) to "read, read, read."
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