R.L. Stine loves Twitter. The scary story writer not only used it to write an entire short story in rapid fire tweets last Halloween, he uses it to interact with fans who were kept up all night reading his books in the ‘80s and '90s. Now, Stine is releasing “Don’t Stay Up Late,” the second book in his revived “Fear Street” series next month:
What went into the decision to revive “Fear Street”?
I did about 80 “Fear Street” books in the '80s and '90s and I just thought I had killed off enough teenagers for a while, so I stopped writing them for about 20 years. But my fans on Twitter kept asking me to write another one. I was really honest and told them that I had taken [“Fear Street”] to some publishers, but no one was interested. Ten minutes later, [an editor] at St. Martins tweeted me and said she was interested. So, it’s great to be killing teens again.
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And “Don’t Stay Up Late” is the second book in the revived series.
Right. I hadn’t written a “Fear Street” book in 20 years, so I had to get out my map of Shadyside and remember the history, because there’s this enormous backstory. I came up with a bunch of ideas and pitched them. The first one was “Party Games,” and “Don’t Stay Up Late” is the second one. Wait until you read the third “Fear Street” book. It has the most gruesome scene I’ve ever written.
When you wrote the original series, how fast were the books coming out?
Every month. People don’t believe it, but I was actually writing two books a month, a “Fear Street” book and a “Goosebumps” book. … The excitement of having these best sellers was so exhilarating. It really kept me going.
The '90s had this obsession with “Goosebumps,” and shows like “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?” Why do you think kids were obsessed with being scared?
It was a fad for one thing. Kids want to do what other kids are doing. But when I asked kids what they liked about the books — because I didn’t get it — they all said it was because they liked to be scared. I realized that people like to be scared if they know they are safe.
And what about you? Why do you love telling these stories?
This is what I do. I’ve been writing since I was nine. I was this weird kid in my room typing all the time. … But I love these stories. I love thinking of new chapter endings. All my chapters end with a cliffhanger. I started out writing humor and writing a cliffhanger is the same thing as writing a punchline.
Did you like scary stories when you were a kid?
Yeah, I did. When I was a kid, there were these scary comics called “Tales From The Crypt” and “The Vaults of Horror.” They were creepy, but also really funny and they had all these great twist endings. They were very influential for me.
New Yorkers: Meet R.L. Stine:
Saturday, April 11, 5 p.m.
450 Columbus Ave., 212-595-1962
Sunday, April 12, 3 p.m.
Books of Wonder
18 W. 18th St., 212-989-3270
Saturday, April 18, 7 p.m.
163 Court St., Brooklyn, 718-875-3677
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence