Thursday, 14 June 2012

R.L. Stine and Ghostwriters

Every now and again, I like to ponder the tough questions. Like what would happen if the teenage trolls who repeatedly go to Yahoo! Answers and ask whether libraries keep the bible in the fiction or non-fiction section bothered to educate themselves about the dewey decimal system. But that would never happen. Anyway, another all-important question I've been pondering since I started writing this blog and revisiting a number of children's books is this. Did R.L. Stine use ghostwriters for his Goosebumps and Fear Street series?

A little research (thanks, google) has brought up some mixed results. This article suggests that Stine did indeed write all 100+ novels on his own, with his wife acting as editor. See: 

Meanwhile, other articles suggest that Stine used ghostwriters for his Goosebumps series, at least. See:
http://www.flavorwire.com/274052/whodunit-10-famous-ghostwriting-collaborations?all=1
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Goosebumps

Now, don't get me wrong. I think R.L. Stine himself is a brilliant writer. However, his downfall is his willingness to sell himself out. By the mid-1990s every month at least two titles (if not more) baring Stine's name on the front cover would be released in bookstores across the globe. At the same time, he was also producing a television series based on the Goosebumps series, along with various point horror novels and releasing his first adult novel, titled Superstitions. This was undeniably a huge workload. And given that the Fear Street and Goosebumps titles were being released regularly and that each novel in the series was a self-contained book that bore little relation to others in the series (a perfect set-up for ghostwriters as they do not need prior knowledge of characters and situations,) it is probable that ghostwriters were used at some point. Probable but, ultimately, unprovable. Then again, Peter Lerangis has yet to add Goosebumps or Fear Street to his list of publishing credentials, so maybe Stine never used ghostwriters at all.





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