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March 24, 3015

Leave it to R.L. Stein --- who's been called the Stephen King of children's and young adult literature --- to turn a fun babysitting job into a thing of nail-biting terror. This is the premise of DON'T STAY UP LATE, Stein's first Fear Street novel in nearly 20 years, and believe us --- it contains just as much twisting, eerie surprises as the other books in the series. In the below interview, we talked to Stein about his new book, the reason he stepped away from his original genre of choice (humor) and what it's like to have Jack Black play him in an upcoming movie. See his answers, here! DON'T STAY UP LATE is a story about Lisa Brooks, a girl who suffers from hallucinations after getting in a car accident. What inspired you to write Lisa’s story?

R.L. Stein: I needed an unreliable narrator. I needed to establish doubt when Lisa starts seeing a demon in the house. Is this another hallucination? Is it all in her mind? Or is it really happening? A lot of suspense is created for the reader because people in the story are not going to believe what she tells them. 

TRC: Which character in DON'T STAY UP LATE did you enjoy writing the most? 

RLS: The demon, of course.

TRC: Including DON'T STAY UP LATE, there are 152 books in the Fear Street series alone! How do you come up with so many original ideas? 

RLS: That's what I do --- come up with ideas. I wouldn't know what else to do all day! I think I'm very lucky. Whenever I need a new idea, one pops into my head.

TRC: What’s your favorite Fear Street book, and why?

RLS: I have a few favorites. One of them is Switched. Two girls switch bodies and take over one another's life. The only problem is, one of the girls just murdered her parents. I've always been pleased with this nifty plot. 

TRC: What differentiates the Fear Street series from your Goosebumps and Mostly Ghostly series? 

RLS: Different audiences. Goosebumps readers are 7-11, mostly. Fear Street readers are generally 12 and up. There's a lot more freedom for nastiness in Fear Street. In Goosebumps, no one ever dies. In Fear Street, teens are being slaughtered left and right!

TRC: In your early career, you wrote a humorous series called Space Cadets. Why do you think you made the switch to writing horror, instead? 

RLS: It sells better.No one bought Space Cadets. I wrote about 100 joke books for kids, but I never made a best-seller list until I turned scary.

TRC: Do you like to read horror, yourself? What’s your favorite horror novel?

RLS: Pet Sematary by Stephen King. A brilliant premise and a totally creepy book.  

TRC: Do you have any writing rituals? 

RLS: I'm pretty much a writing machine. I sit down at about 10 every morning and write 2,000 words before I get up again. I can write anywhere. No rituals --- I just love it.

TRC: In your opinion, what is the most fun part of the writing process?

RLS: Finishing a book. 

TRC: What advice would you give teens who want to start writing their own books? 

RLS: They don't need my advice. If they love to write, they are going to read a lot and write a lot, and they don't need advice. 

TRC: You have a new movie, Goosebumps, coming out later this year! Can you tell us a little bit more about it? Were you involved in the writing or filming process? 

RLS: I'm the main character in the film. I'm a grumpy old guy who has retired because all of the monsters are escaping from my books. The movie has amazing monsters and special effects. And what a thrill for me to be a character in the film --- and played by Jack Black!