If you ever browse through my Goodreads reading list, you will see a lot of books. I have almost read 600 books (that I can recall) and a lot of the early books were the goosebumps books. Like most children, I was fascinated with them and had to read all of them.
The Goosebumps books almost didn’t happen though because of the lack of success when it was released. That was because there was no advertising or marketing for the books. R. L. Stine would release a new book every two months and it eventually got popular by word of mouth.
Not many people know the origins of the novels. Here are 7 facts about the Goosebumps book series that you didn’t know!
7 Facts About Goosebumps
1. R. L. Stine didn’t want to do Goosebumps but his editors convinced him to do it
The Goosebumps novels are synonymous with Stine but that was almost not the case. The author’s editors are his wife Jane and her business partner Joan Waricha. They convinced Stine to do the novels and at first, he told them that he didn’t want to do it. But they told him “No one’s ever done a series for 7 to 11-year old, scary books. We have to try it.” Stine eventually said OK and the rest is history.
2. Stine believes that the first Goosebumps book is a bit too scary
The first Goosebumps novel Welcome to Dead House is considered a bit too scary according to Stine. “I didn’t have the right combination yet—it doesn’t have the humor,” Stine said. It took Stine only one book to realize he needed more humor in his novels. “But by the second book, Stay Out of the Basement, I got it. I just figured I don’t really want to scare these kids. So anytime a scene gets really intense, I throw in something funny. And of course there’s a punchline at the end of every chapter.”
3. Stine’s childhood inspire his story ideas
Writing scary stories wasn’t always Stine’s profession. But that all changed when he wrote his first horror novel Blind Date, which went on to be a bestseller. After that he made the switch to horror novels. Later on, as Stine was writing his Goosebumps series, he turned towards his childhood. “I was always afraid of a lot of things, which later came in handy, of course, because I could remember that feeling of panic, that feeling of what it feels like to be a frightened kid,” the author said. “And I could bring that to my books.”
4. Stine now comes up with titles instead of plot ideas
When you have written so many books in a series, coming up with new plot ideas can be hard. That is true for Stine who has admitted that he now comes up with compelling titles for the novels and then builds his story around that. Can you blame him? He has written about every fear imaginable at this point.
5. Stine’s favorite Goosebumps book is The Haunted Mask
While there are dozens of Goosebumps novels, one of them is much dearer to Stine. His favorite novel is The Haunted Mask, the 11th book in the series. The novel was inspired by true life events when Stine’s son was unable to remove his Halloween costume one Halloween. That is the only one that Stine has written that was inspired by real-life events.
6. The series is popular internationally
The series has also found a home internationally with over 50 million copies sold. Kids from all over the world love horror novels and nobody is better at writing those for children than R. L. Stine. In Italy, the series is called Piccoli Brividi which translates to “little shivers.”
7. Tim Jacobus took 35 hours to illustrate one cover
Illustrator Tim Jacobus would sketch three 8-10-inch options for each cover and then would use acrylics and airbrush on the final version. According to Jacobus, there wasn’t much room for creative back-and-forth and whatever Jacobus sent was usually accepted. Stine would publish one book a day and that would sometimes mean Jacobus would receive little information about the books and sometimes he would have to use the short plot blurb as a guide.
How many of those facts did you know about the Goosebumps novels and its author? These novels were a big part of my childhood along with many other children. Learning about their origins and small tidbits made me appreciate the novels a lot more.