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R.L. Stine - The Interview Experience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   New York City has always glittered for me, but that day in late April I had a sparkle of my own. Sitting in a bustling café while waves of hungry people slowly died down as the hour deviated further and further from noon, I watched the sidewalk as people passed. I always feel a young writer's excitement as I sit making up stories as parades of New Yorkers pass under the bright buildings. That hour, however, my excitement was more focused, my make-believe more practical. Today I was in the city for a reason that gave me chills of happy nerves: I was there to meet and interview R. L. Stine, the world's most successful children's writer, author of The Nightmare Room series, and of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series that trapped, amused and gave me new fears of the dark when I was 12.

I met John and Stephanie Meyer, publishers of Teen Ink, and Vicky, who was friendly and bright. Over lunch, we shuffled through hundreds of questions, narrowing them down to about 20. All the while, we listened to each other's stories.

Quickly, the hours passed, and suddenly I was in the elevator going up to R. L. Stine's apartment. If at anytime I was covered in goose bumps it was then, for as soon as the elevator door opened, there he was - the man who appeared on the back of hundreds of books that had sold millions of copies. Despite all this, R. L. Stine smiled warmly and introduced us to the rest of his welcoming committee, Nadine, his dog. Strangely, I felt entirely comfortable.

R. L. Stine invited us in. Never have I seen such a beautiful apartment. We walked into an immaculate living room with big windows. I had prepared myself for formal introductions, but somehow conversation just turned from Nadine, who curled under our feet into a warm ball, to his home as a child, to the setting of his books. Before I knew it, what I thought would be a formal 20-minute interview turned into a wonderful two-hour conversation. So easy and natural were his responses, his humor and his stories, that I felt as if Vicky and I were speaking with a friend. I was amazed when he spoke about his rigorous writing schedule as if explaining a simple task. He seemed nonchalant about his ability to write so much, so well, so quickly. I was surprised to hear that each of his books starts with an idea for a title.

When the interview ended, R. L. Stine invited both Vicky's and my parents up and gave us all a tour of his apartment. When we entered his office we all smiled. It seemed an ideal setting to write scary stories. The room, lined wall-to-wall with copies of his books, had atmosphere, with a dummy, a few fake eyeballs and a skeleton wearing a Goosebumps cap. The room was, however, like the rest of the apartment, almost eerily organized. I had always imaged writers with wild hair and ink-stained hands sitting in beat-up chairs surrounded by crumpled rough drafts. This office was precisely ordered. Remembering his rigorous and purposeful writing schedule, though, the room made sense. I can assume that organization is a key to great writing.

I left the apartment with my arms full of signed books and my mind bubbling with ideas. I left feeling comfortable and awestruck at the same time because R. L. Stine had been so down-to-earth, yet carried a distinct aura of success. As a teen just beginning to gain confidence as a writer, I was truly inspired to be treated so kindly by a writer who has mastered his skill.

Driving over the George Washington Bridge on the way home, the sun setting the city into golden shimmers, I thought about all the wonderful people I had met, and how special my experience was. It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable day.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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myles said...
Apr. 13, 2010 at 8:15 am:
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