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'Goosebumps' author R.L. Stine reveals the 1 thing he thinks ruins horror

Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images2017%252f09%252f12%252fd7%252fsambw.5d18f%252f90x90By Sam Haysom2019-02-11 00:01:00 UTC

If you want to know about the stuff that really scares people, you could do a lot worse than asking R.L. Stine.

The Goosebumps author has been terrifying kids for decades. The first book in his series, Welcome to Dead House, was released in 1992. Over a quarter of a century later, the stories are still going strong.

Stine recently signed on to do six more books, the second Goosebumps movie is about to come out on DVD, and the series has sold a staggering 400 million+ copies.

"It's hard to believe, isn't it?" Stine tells Mashable over the phone. "I don't really understand it. We just keep going and I get to scare new generations."

Stine puts the enduring success of the series down to a number of factors. "I do think the movies have helped a lot — the two movies," he says. "After the first one came out, the book sales tripled. And movies are very powerful. But I think it's because, one, kids like to be scared, and two, the books are very easy to read."

'Goosebumps 2' is out on DVD this month.

'Goosebumps 2' is out on DVD this month.

Image: columbia pictures

But what about the actual things that make us scared — how have they changed over the course of Stine's career?

"Fears all stay the same," says Stine. "They never change. Afraid of the dark; afraid of being in some weird new place; afraid something's waiting for you in the garage — that never changes. But mainly the only thing that's changed is the technology."

The mention of technology leads Stine to begin talking about something that's clearly a bug bear of his when it comes to writing horror: modern day communication.

"The only thing that's changed is the technology."

"The things that I think ruins mysteries and horror are cell phones — mobile phones," Stine says. "When you write you have to get rid of them right away."

Although shows like Black Mirror, and certain horror novels like Stephen King's Cell have made use of technology as a source for terror, Stine prefers to take it out of the picture entirely.

"You used to do a teen book where a girl is getting frightening phone calls, and she looks and says 'Who is this? Who's calling?'" he explains. "Now she just looks at the screen and she knows who's calling, and the book is over! You get, you know, five kids trapped in a cabin in the woods and one of them's a murderer. Well now they just pick up the cell phone, they call for help!

"Now you have to get the phones out of there right away."

Still — phones or no phones, technology or no technology, Goosebumps isn't giving up the ghost anytime soon.

Goosebumps 2 is out on Digital Download now, and on Blu-ray and DVD February 18

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