R.L. Stine Explains Why It's Gotten Harder To Scare Teenagers

Illustration for article titled R.L. Stine Explains Why It's Gotten Harder To Scare Teenagers

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.

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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 You don’t want to sound out of date at all, but I’m very careful because the technology changes every two weeks.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.

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]

DISCUSSION

he does realize that the average age of his readers back in the day was 12, right? They might have been geared for teenagers but pre-teens were the people i was renting the goosebumps videos to back in the day. Hell speaking from my own experience, i read Stephen King and Dean Koontz when was i was a teen. I read Christopher Pike and R.L.Stine when i was a pre-teen. I did the same with the sweet valley twins (pre-teen) and Sweet Valley high (teen in junior high school) and with the Fabulous five and Babysitters club. I never wanted to read about the kids my age, but rather the “older” kids. Oddly enough now i read all ages (even baby books because i have a lot nephews lol! Yeah curious george!). Anyway my long drawn out point is that he’s trying to appeal to the wrong age. And sure things like phones date stuff, but that’s true of all books. Read Jane Austen, she still is entertaining but most people have no idea what she’s talking about when she says they enjoyed a round of Whist. It won’t ruin your book, if the rest of the story is relatable.