Since 1989, R.L. Stine has been scaring teenagers, first with the Goosebumps books and now with the Fear Street series. But it’s gotten tougher — as he tells Time, it’s hard to keep up with technology, as well as shifting teenage trends.

Stine tells Time:

It’s actually much harder [to scare teenagers now], because the technology has ruined a lot of things that make for good mysteries—largely because of cell phones. You can’t have a mystery caller anymore. You can’t have someone making horrible phone calls and you don’t know who it is. Now, you know immediately. You look at your phone, and you know. You have to get rid of the phone when you’re writing the book. Everyone has a phone now and everyone can just call for help. In some ways, it’s much more challenging now....

I have to keep up with [contemporary teen life]. It’s a real important part of writing these books. You don’t want to sound out of date at all, but I’m very careful because the technology changes every two weeks. You have to be not terribly specific about what they’re using. And I have to be careful about language too. I spent a lot of time going to schools and talking to teenagers and kids for Goosebumps, just to see what they say, how they talk these days, what they wear, that kind of thing. But if I put too much of that in the book, it dates it.

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For tons more, including the main message of his books (“that the ordinary teenagers faced with horrible things can use their own wits and imagination to survive, to triumph”) check out the interview, over in Time. [via SF Signal]