This past weekend was Florida’s annual horror convention, Spooky Empire, and I just so happen to be visiting my best friend/blog partner Kristin during that time. I didn’t really know anything about the convention or what to expect while were heading there but I did notice that R.L. Stine was giving a Q&A Panel which was an event that I immediately knew I could not miss. I credit R.L. Stine with being the man who changed my childhood and made me love reading. When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting to me than acquiring a new Goosebumps book. My grandmother lived within walking distance of an independent bookstore called The Oaktree Bookstore (sadly, it’s no longer there), and every time I would visit her, we would walk there together and she would buy me a new Goosebumps book. I’ll never forget how overcome with happiness I had felt in those pre-internet days when I would walk into Oaktree, hurry over to the Goosebumps section and see that a new book had been released and added to R.L.’s shelf. After carefully choosing my next read, my Grandma and I would also buy candy from the card store, and then run back to her house where I would immediately begin my next horrific adventure. Whether it was a Halloween mask that adhered to it’s wearer, a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy who plays ill hearted pranks on his owners, a hamster named Cuddles who ingests Monster Blood, or a pair of lawn gnomes who wreak havoc while everyone sleeps, I could not get enough of Goosebumps. I owned and read all 62 of the original Goosebumps books in the series multiple times, took out all of the television adaptation VHS tapes from the library for multiple viewings, and collected every last Goosebumps trading card available. It’s been a long time since I was a child and experienced Goosebumps, but in that moment, at Spooky Empire, everything came flooding back to me as I shoved Kristin and yelled to her that R.L. Stine had just strolled past us on the show floor!
Kristin was shocked at my reaction and asked me how I was even sure that was R.L. since he was just nonchalantly walking around and chatting with fans in line for his panel, and I turned to her and desperately exclaimed that I just knew! I waited for him to finish his conversation and then nervously ran over to introduce myself and thank him for making my childhood so memorable. R.L. was friendly, and kind, and had an amazing sense of humor. I told him the story about my grandma and how he is responsible for getting me excited about reading. He thanked me for telling him and when I told him that I read all of his books, he said “hey and you turned out okay!” It was honestly a dream come true. It’s been 3 days since I met him and I still cannot stop talking about it every chance I get. But the reason R.L. Stine was in attendance was to promote his newest adult novel, Red Rain. He explained during the panel that all of his readers had grown up and he has become nostalgia. He didn’t like that feeling so he wrote a book to cater to all of his long time fans. He also informed us that he had spent so much time writing about good kids, that he thought it was time to write about some evil ones. Stine explained that while most people find children to be frightening, everyone finds twin children to be exceptionally scary. Even an actual twin he spoke too. He talked to us all about Goosebumps and Red Rain for nearly 90 minutes and I left feeling enthused and with a renewed love of my favorite childhood author. I was able to get a copy of Stine’s Red Rain at Book Expo last June, and it is now at the top of my reading list. I’ll let you all know how it is via Twitter and tumblr! So I’ll leave you, dear reader, with one of my favorite aspects of Goosebumps, their irresistible cover art :o)