An interview with R.L. Stine about his decision to become a writer, the most important storytelling elements in a book, how he writes books so frequently, adapts his writing to different age groups, and his best career advice.
Welcome to the 91st episode of 5 Questions with Dan Schawbel. As your host, my goal is to curate the best advice from the world’s smartest and most interesting people by asking them just 5 questions.
This episodes guest:
My guest today is bestselling children’s book author, R.L. Stine. Born in Columbus Ohio, R.L. began writing at age nine after discovering a typewriter in his attic. While at Ohio State University, he edited the school’s humor magazine The Sundial before moving to New York City to pursue his writing career. There, he created the humor magazine Bananas that printed 72 issues between 1975 and 1984. Then, he wrote his first horror novel called Blind Date and the Fear Street series a few years later before launching his famous Goosebumps series. Throughout his career, R.L. has penned hundreds of books with over 400 million copies sold. The Guinness Book of World Records cites him as the most successful children’s book author of all time and he won the Horror Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2014. More recently, he published the children’s book, “Just Beyond: The Horror at Happy Landings”. When I was growing up, I never wanted to read until I picked up the Goosebumps collection, which my parents still have in their home today. That’s why I was so excited to speak to R.L. for this podcast episode.
The 5 questions I ask in this episode:
- As a child, your teachers told you not to write and you received criticism about your comic book drawings from your classmates. How did this harsh feedback influence your decision to become a writer?
- I refused to read books in my childhood until I came across your Goosebumps series. What do you think are the most important storytelling elements that capture the hearts and minds of readers even those who resisted reading like me?
- You’ve said that you could write a Goosebumps book in about 2 weeks, whereas I’ve written 3 books in 10 years. How have you produced quality work in such a short period of time and what habits make you so efficient?
- How have you adapted your writing style, characters, and themes to different age groups and audiences of readers?
- What is your best piece of career advice?
Follow R.L.’s journey: