R.L. Stine, the eerily prolific author of the classic middle-grade horror series, "Goosebumps," is completely at home with killer mummies, haunted houses and sinister ventriloquist's dummies. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, he wrote scary stories to give himself courage, and learned just how powerful a child's imagination can be. Looking back, he remembers how Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF gave him and his friends the satisfaction of knowing they were doing something good in an often scary world.
When did you first begin writing scary stories?
R.L. STINE: I started writing when I was nine, and some of the things I wrote were ghost stories. My first scary book was a novel for teenagers called "Blind Date." It was published a long time ago: 1986.
Where do you get your ideas?
R.L. STINE: Everywhere!
I was a very fearful kid. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of a lot of things. I think I wrote scary stories to make myself brave.
Growing up, were you always drawn to scary themes and suspense? What kind of a kid were you?
R.L. STINE: My brother and I loved scary movies. We'd go to the movies to see cartoons and horror films every Saturday. But I was a very fearful kid. Afraid of the dark. Afraid of a lot of things. I think I wrote scary stories to make myself brave.
What was Halloween like for you as a kid? Any memorable costumes?
R.L. STINE: Halloween was a sad time for me. I wanted to be a werewolf or a vampire or a mummy. But one year, my parents brought home a yellow duck costume with a fuzzy tail. I had to be a duck for Halloween. It was embarrassing.
We all went out in our costumes collecting pennies for UNICEF. It made us feel good because we were doing something useful.
What role did Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF play in your childhood?
R.L. STINE: In my neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio, we had Penny Night on the night before Halloween. We all had our UNICEF containers, and we all went out in our costumes collecting pennies for UNICEF. It made us feel good because we were doing something useful—and the next night was all about CANDY!
What were some fears you had as a kid and how did you overcome them?
R.L. STINE: I was afraid someone or something was waiting for me in our garage at night. I used to THROW my bike into the garage and go running into the house. I never overcame it. Now I throw my car into the garage!
Kids can change the world by setting a good example for their parents.
What sort of power do kids have to change the world?
R.L. STINE: Kids can change the world by setting a good example for their parents.
How do you feel when people say that your books gave them goosebumps?
R.L. STINE: That's my job: to give kids the creeps!
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Scary Good"?
R.L. STINE: What could be better than being Scary Good? I can't think of anything!
What is one thing that most people don't know about you?
R.L. STINE: Most people don't know that at night I sprout wings and fly hundreds of miles in search of a Dairy Queen that's open.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is the longest-running youth engagement campaign in America and has raised nearly $177 million to help UNICEF provide children with health care, nutrition, safe water, education, emergency relief and more. This October, kids who Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF can #BeScaryGood and collect lifesaving donations for children affected by recent disasters around the world.
Learn more about how to get involved at: trickortreatforunicef.org.
This October, kids who Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF can #BeScaryGood and collect lifesaving donations for children affected by recent disasters around the world.