R.L. Stine: Getting Goosebumps Going Down Fear Street

Shedding light on some of history’s greatest minds – in her column, Brianne Muñiz celebrates the birthdays and lives of extraordinary people by taking a look at their impact and sharing often overlooked facts.

October: the month for hoodies, children picking Halloween costumes, and sharing spooky scares with friends. Who better to talk about for this month’s birthday than R.L. Stine? Many of us grew up reading his books, either out of pure enjoyment or because we wanted a good scare before we went to bed. He wrote many books, most notably the series called “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street.”

Robert Lawrence Stine was born on Oct. 8, 1943. He was the son of Lewis, a shipping clerk, and Anne Stine. R.L. Stine has been married to Jane Waldhorn since 1969 and they have a son together. Stine is often referred to as the Stephen King for young adults writing for having written over 300 books. Below are some more facts you might not know.

1. He came up with his titles long before he wrote his books.

In a 1999 interview with CNN, when asked how he comes up with his plots, he said he got most of his ideas by thinking of the title first  he worked backwards compared to most authors. He believed that when he had a good title, he could then go about thinking up what kind of story will go with it. Can you imagine creating your title before writing a long book like Stine does?

2. He started writing humorous books before he got into horror.

Stine always knew he wanted to write and had been writing since the age of nine when he found a typewriter. He got his start as the editor of The Sundial, his university’s humorous magazine. He received his bachelor’s in English from Ohio State University, then moved to New York to become a writer. When he arrived, he found various writing jobs, including creating “Bananas,” which was a humor magazine and began to write a number of comical books for kids. During this time, he used the pseudonym “Jovial Bob Stine.” He always liked horror stories but was afraid he couldn’t write in the genre.

3. He wanted people to think he had a woman’s name.

Stine doesn’t use his full name in order to conceal his gender. He noticed that S.E. Hinton, author of “The Outsiders,” didn’t use her full name (later famously parroted by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series). This is important because while we all know his “Goosebumps” series, many of us may not have known was that his first commercial success was called “Fear Street,” a series geared toward women. He was trying to target a specific audience and did what he could for this specific readership to pay attention to his books. Smart marketing move.

4. He won countless achievements.

He has garnered many awards including the Disney Adventures Kids’ Choice Award, The Champion of Reading Award, and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. He was even named bestselling children’s book series author of all time. USA Today also named him America’s bestselling author in the ‘90s three years in a row. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Thriller Writers of America Silver Bullet Award. That is a lot of recognition, especially since he started out so young. This just proves that hard work does pay off.

5. He doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

You would think stories like Stine’s work came from his personal beliefs or experiences. Don’t be fooled; Stine has never encountered a ghost even though that is the majority of what he writes about. He claims he is not sure where his ideas come from. Just because he doesn’t believe in ghosts, however, doesn’t mean he isn’t looking.


If you’d like to read more about R.L. Stine, check out the write-ups by Buzzfeed and his personal website.

Brianne Muñiz is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.