R.L. Stine shares stories of being an author


Goosebumps author R.L. Stine delivered laughs and groans with an uproarious speech to about 250 people Wednesday night. To the delight of the audience, Stine shared many life stories and anecdotes to inspire students and provide some comedic relief to audience members. 

Stine began by reading a poem by Shel Silverstein titled Haunted, bringing the audience back to the spooky stories of childhood many of them remember. He then mentioned why he was so happy to be here at USF.

“I’ll tell you why I’m especially glad to be here,” Stine said. “A couple weeks ago, I did a book signing in New York City and a teacher came up to the table and she said, ‘Can I have my picture taken with you, the kids all think you’re dead.’”

Stine showcased his legendary dry and dark humor that Goosebumps books are known for to the audience by cracking joke after joke. 

“I was walking into the building earlier tonight and a woman stopped me on the street and she said, ‘did anyone ever tell you look a lot like R.L. Stine. No offense,’” he said

Stine continued by reading real fan letters he has received over the years from children who had read his books.

“My all-time favorite letter was from a boy, from all these years,” Stine said. “Dear R.L. Stine I’ve read 40 of your books and I think they’re really boring.”

Stine talked about his experiences growing up in Columbus, Ohio and his love for writing that began at a young age. Stine said he started off by typing on an old typewriter he found. 

“When I was nine, I would stay in my room typing and typing,” Stine said. “I don’t know why I liked it so much, but I knew, I think I knew, when I was 9 years old that I wanted to be a writer. I was a weird kid just typing all day.”

Stine then went on sharing his life story by explaining his financial situation while he attended Ohio State University. 

“I lived in Columbus, my family was very poor,” Stine said. “I went to Ohio State. I know you won’t believe this, but at Ohio State, the tuition was $125 a quarter. It was $375 a year. I always say worth every penny. My family was so poor actually, I had to take out a loan to pay for $375. I’m hoping to pay it back really soon.

“My parents didn’t understand it at all. My mother would stand outside the door and say, ‘what’s wrong with you, go outside and play.’ Maybe the worst advice I got in my life.” 

Stine talked to the audience about how people always wonder how he gets his ideas and what inspires him as an author.  

“Two-thirds of my fan mail starts out like this,” Stine said. “‘Dear R.L. Stine, my teacher is forcing us to write to an author, I chose you. Where do you get your ideas?’ That’s an impossible question to answer. I always want to say, ‘where do you get your ideas?’”

Stine said horror doesn’t scare him like it does other people, which is possibly why he was able to make such a successful career out of this genre of fiction that makes most people’s stomach turn. 

“It’s kind of weird, I don’t get scared by movies or books,” Stine said. “There’s something missing in my brain. People say to me, after they read my books, they leave all the lights on, and they couldn’t sleep, and they had to lock all the doors. I’ve never had that. Horror for me makes me laugh, I think it’s funny.”

Stine said he’s always asked if he has any advice for young writers since he has such a prolific and lucrative writing career. 

“People always say do I have advice for young people and generally I don’t give advice for young writers at all, because I always think they’re like me,” Stine said.

Toward the end of the speech Stine did offer one glimpse of advice for future writers. 

“I never said no to anything when I was starting out as a writer,” Stine said. “Just say yes. Say yes to everything.”