If you were a child in the 1990s, then I need not tell you about the greatest living author in American letters today. R. L. Stine has thrilled and chilled the world’s junior horror buffs for years. Many of us who grew up on his works have gone on to create stories of our own, some have even grown up to become ghosts themselves. A proud legacy indeed.
Spoiler Alert: The story concerns a family who moves to an old creepy house. The children make new friends and eventually learn that they are undead beings. In fact, everyone in town is! Furthermore, the undead must have the blood of a newly killed person to sustain their existence for another year.
Stine told The New Yorker in 1994 that he wrote this after visiting Connecticut one summer with his family. He spent a month in a lake house there, working on some articles for Bananas magazine. When not working or spending time with the family, Stine would regularly play tennis with a local real estate broker. One afternoon the man asked for a ride home. His home, as it happens, was the cemetery.
When asked, the man confessed that he had been dead for some time, but didn’t like to talk about it. The percentage of living dead in New England at that time was believed to be about 28%. Though the initial offering in the Goosebumps series didn’t do much to further the cause of acceptance towards the undead, it is a rollicking tale.
When tasked with the creation of Goosebumps, Stine immediately thought of the summer with the undead broker. Picnics in the cemetery. Meeting the other dead. The book was going to end on a more dead-positive note, but at the end of his vacation Stine discovered that his partner had been cheating at tennis the entire summer.
The book was written in just under two weeks. In order to make such a tight turnaround on the book, R.L. Stine turned to the fashionable drugs of choice for that time period Pixy Stix and four cans of Jolt Cola a day.
Habits that would come home to roost in the next decade.
07(I feel the need to reiterate that none of this is true, except the plot of the book, that checks out)