Halloween provides plenty of material for R. L. Stine, creator of the Goosebumps series. The author discusses the inspirations behind his many spooky tales.
Halloween is my busy time of year. I'm always traveling to bookstores and schools and libraries, scaring kids (which is my job). I've probably written more Halloween stories than most authors. I've written about haunted masks and inhabited costumes, eerie pumpkin patches, parties that turn into screamfests, and jack-o-lantern people who invade from another planet.
Yes, those are Halloween titles that I have to take credit for.
Perhaps the most popular of all my Halloween books is The Haunted Mask. That book—and the TV adaptation of it—comes up whenever I speak to groups of kids or adults.
Someone always asks, "Where did you get the idea for that book?" Strangely, it is one of the few books I have written that began with an incident from real life.
It was approaching Halloween time, and my son Matt was five or six. I was watching him from the doorway to his room. Matt was trying on a green rubber Frankenstein mask. He pulled it down over his head—and then he couldn't get it off.
I watched him tug and tug, but the mask was stuck. And I thought, What a great idea for a story.
I know. I know. I should have helped him pull the mask off—shouldn't I! I guess I didn’t win the Good Parent Award that day. But the idea for The Haunted Mask began to form in my head, and I couldn't wait to start jotting down ideas.
The story turned out to be about a girl named Carly Beth, who is tired of being bullied and teased and considered the biggest 'fraidy cat in school. She buys the most frightening Halloween mask she can find. Unfortunately, it turns out to be haunted.
It tightens around her face, sticks to her skin, becomes part of her. And then when she realizes the mask can't be removed, it begins to change her personality. It turns Carly Beth evil.
Often, people tell me how traumatized they were by this story. Many have told me they couldn't wear a mask for years after reading the book or seeing the TV show. So I guess I did my job well.
I'd like to tell you more about The Haunted Mask. But I have yet another Halloween story deadline upon me.