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‘When I first started out I wasn't even allowed to kill anyone.'

27 March 2023

‘When I first started out I wasn't even allowed to kill anyone. People were worried about it. And then it got more and more daring as we went along...

I would never do real-world fears. A kid has to know it's fantasy. If I establish that, then I can go pretty far with the scares. One thing kids insist on is a happy ending I did this book called The Best Friend where the good girl is taken away as the murderer and the murderer gets off scot-free. And kids hated this book. The mail was amazing: "Dear R L Stine, You idiot - how can you do that?" They just couldn't accept it. I never tried it again. That book haunted me...

Until fairly recently the characters in children's publishing had to learn and grow. Why can't kids have books that are just entertaining? In my books the parents are nearly always useless. The kids face these big challenges on their own and they have to use their wits to get themselves out of the jam. That's all, though. I don't do any other kind of moral message.'

The late R L Stine, author of 530 books for children and young people, including the Goosebumps and Fear Street series, in the Sunday Times Culture