R.L. Stine is famous for traumatizing generations of kids (me included) with his terrifying Goosebumps series — but on Oct. 9 he’ll turn his attentions to grown-ups. Red Rain, one of the prolific author’s few novels for adults, tells the story of a writer named Lea Sutter who’s staying on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. After a hurricane hits the unsuspecting town, Lea decides to help the island get back on its feet and ends up adopting two boys in the process. She takes them back to her home in Long Island, but her husband Mark and their two children Ira and Elena are less than pleased. When strange things start happening around the neighborhood, Lea and Mark are forced to ask themselves how far they’re willing to go to protect the boys’ lives, especially if those lives might cost them everything they hold dear.
Stine took the time to talk to EW about his new book, his fear of twins, and his love of fan mail. When you’re done reading the interview, check out the exclusive trailer for Red Rain below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about Red Rain?
R.L. Stine: I hear I’m writing a book for grown-ups. This is the 20th anniversary of Goosebumps. All my readers who were 10 or 12 back then, they’re all like 25, 28, 32 and I hear from them on Twitter all the time, every day. And so many of them ask me, “But why don’t you write something for us, please write something for us.” I really couldn’t ignore my old audience. Those are my kids, my old audience back from the nineties. So that’s really the impetus for Red Rain. And then I started thinking about what should I do and I thought maybe people would really find it kind of funny and ironic if I wrote about evil kids since I write about so many good kids, right? And then I started thinking about twins. Twins are scary. I started doing research on twins. And twins have always been scary, all through time.
What kind of research did you do?
Just reading things, going back, finding The Golden Bough [by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer]. It’s got all this wonderful mythology. There were tribes that believed that twins controlled the weather, which also gave me more ideas. I don’t really understand why twins are so scary. I do all these Goosebumps books about dummies coming to life and dolls coming to life, and in a way I think it’s the same kind of thing, that they’re used to one person and then suddenly there’s another one that’s alive.
What was the timeline for Red Rain? You write books so quickly.
I actually had to do research. Writing for adults is hard. Goosebumps is easy. I’ve done about a 110 of them. Can you imagine? I had a girl who wrote to me and she said — this is a great letter — she said, “I love your books, but I’m having trouble keeping up. Do you think you could stop writing for a while?” Isn’t that good?
So are you going to take a vacation?
No, no. I don’t know. I can go maybe two weeks without writing and then I have to get back. Someone said to me it’s an addiction and I think maybe they’re right. After 10 days or so, I feel like getting back.
Is there a difference between writing for kids and adults?
It’s like the difference in a runner who’s used to running a sprint and then suddenly they decide to run a marathon. It’s the same skills, but everything else is different. You have to re-tool everything. It’s sort of the opposite of writing for kids in a lot of ways, especially writing horror. When I write the kids books, I have to make sure the kids know it isn’t real. I don’t really want to terrify kids. But when you write for adults, everything has to be real. They have to believe it. It’s really the total opposite of writing for kids. So that was difficult. It was a challenge.
Do prefer writing for one or the other?
Kids are a much more fun audience because you hear from them. Adults don’t have time to write to authors. I don’t write to authors and you don’t get much mail when you write for adults.
You’re in this for the mail?
[Laughs] The mail is the best part of it. You just get wonderful, hilarious letters. Here’s my all time favorite: “Dear R.L. Stine. I’ve read 40 of your books and I think they’re really boring.” Last week, I got a letter — this is true — from a girl, it said: “Dear R.L. Stine, you’re my second favorite author.” That was the whole letter. You don’t get that from adults.
Douglas Preston wrote a blurb for the trailer.
He’s a friend of mine. I have some pretty good friends who are thriller writers. I love Doug’s work. I love those books, the [Pendergast series] he does with Lincoln Child. I think we’re going to write a story together. Doug, Lincoln and me. I don’t know how we’re going to do it. For some anthology.
You should write a Pendergast novel with them.
[Laughs] [Pendergast] as a boy, a 12-year-old boy. I love that.
Red Rain hits shelves on Oct. 9.