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Proud Of Spreading Chills And Thrills Among Children: ‘Goosebumps’ Author R.L. Stine

I'm very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books.

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Scared. Image source: Huffingtonpost.com

R.L. Stine never imagined he’d carve out a successful future for himself by writing a horror book series, which he started by accident. The “Goosebumps” creator says he is proud of spreading chills and thrills among children, and helping youngsters develop a reading habit.

“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,” Stine told IANS in an email interview.

Born as Robert Lawrence Stine, he started writing when he was 9 and has been penning down his creative thoughts since then. Back in the early 1990s, he resisted the idea of writing “Goosebumps”, which is now one of the best-selling children’s series of all-time, because he already had “Fear Street”, a horror book series for adults, to his credit.

Stine only agreed to go for it with the right name and zeroed in on “Goosebumps”, in which he merged the world of horror with humour. The first edition of “Goosebumps”, which brings supernatural beings to life to haunt children, came out in 1992.

“I never dreamed that these books would be so popular. And I never imagined the ‘Goosebumps’ series would last 26 years. What I’ve learned is that kids really like to be scared! (As long as there is a happy ending),” said Stine, who is also referred to as Stephen King of Children’s Literature.

Children avoid eye contact when anxious
“I’m very proud of the millions of kids I have scared over the years, and proud that millions of kids were encouraged to read because of my books,”-R.L Stine

It has been a long road for the franchise. Since 1992, the “Goosebumps” franchise has expanded its universe. The adventurous world came to life on the big screen with two feature films — “Goosebumps”, which was aired in India on &flix, and “Goosebumps 2”, which will premiere on the channel later this year.

Apart from films, “Goosebumps” series were adapted into a television series, six video games and six comic books.

What do you think makes the franchise timeless?

“I don’t know if they are timeless or not. But I do know that our fears never change. Fear of the dark… Fear of strange places… Fear of being pursued by someone or something… Those fears seem to be timeless,” said the 75-year-old.

R.L. Stine Author of kid’s favorite ‘Goosebumps’ (IANS)

Talking about his influences, Stine said: “I’m still influenced by the comic books I read as a kid. By authors such as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Rod Serling. Your heroes and influences stay with you.”

He asserted that he works really hard at “keeping up with kids and what interests them”.

“All of my books start with real-world settings and events — and then the plot goes crazy,” said the author, adding that “some of my early readers are 30 or 35 years old. To them, I am nostalgia! That took some getting used to”.

In the “Goosebumps” film franchise, actor Jack Black essays role of Stine. But what about a film on your life?

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He was quick to dismiss the idea by saying, “My life story would be someone sitting in a room and typing every day, year after year. Who would want to see a movie like that?”

Back to the book franchise, Stine, who is also a television producer, editor and screenwriter, feels there are still many untold stories from the “Goosebumps” universe.

“I just signed on for six more ‘Goosebumps’ books. That should keep me busy. I’m also writing a series of graphic novels for kids. Fun.” (IANS)

Next Story

Immersive VR Can Help Kids Overcome Autism Phobias

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults

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Virtual Reality
A hospital patient uses virtual reality treatment for pain in this undated photo. VOA

Exposing children and adults with autism to immersive virtual reality (VR) can help alleviate their fears and phobias, say researchers.

A team from the UK’s Newcastle University developed ‘Blue Room’, a virtual environment, which requires no goggles. Here a person can comfortably investigate and navigate through various scenarios working with a therapist using iPad controls but remain in full control of the situation.

“For many children and their families, anxiety can rule their lives as they try to avoid the situations which can trigger their child’s fears or phobias,” said Professor Jeremy Parr from Newcastle’s Institute of Neuroscience.

“To be able to offer a treatment that works, and see the children do so well, offers hope to families who have very few treatment options for anxiety available to them,” Parr added.

Autism can affect a child’s learning and development, often resulting in impaired social and communication skills and many also have fears or phobias which can be very distressing but are often overlooked.

Inventions
Toybox founder Arlene Mulder views a project that their tech innovation hub was involved in, a Virtual Reality exhibition at a Johannesburg art gallery. VOA

For the study, detailed in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the team involved a small group of children with autism aged 8-14 years. Half received treatment in the ‘Blue Room’ straight away and half acted as a control group, receiving delayed treatment six months later.

“People with autism can find imagining a scene difficult which is why the ‘Blue Room’ is so well-received. We are providing the feared situation in a controlled way through VR and we are sitting alongside them to help them learn how to manage their fears,” explained Morag Maskey, researcher from Newcastle.

Also Read- AI Helping Differently-abled to Become More Independent: Microsoft

The results showed that overall 40 per cent of children treated showed improvement at two weeks, and 45 per cent at six months.

In a separate study, published in the Autism in Adulthood journal by the same team, the VR treatment was shown to be effective in autistic adults. (IANS)