Like many 90's kids, I spent quite a few late nights terrifying myself with tales from R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books. Full disclosure: it took me an embarassingly long time to regain the courage to go down to the lower level of my parents' house after reading the series' second installment, Stay Out of the Basement. Flash forward a decade to my post-college job hunt, when my 21-year old self—still an avid reader, though my taste in books had evolved beyond the YA section—began looking for a publishing gig in Manhattan. I accepted an internship at Parachute Press, a "small boutique publishing company," and showed up on my first day of work unsure of what to expect. All expectations were exceeded when I was greeted with endless shelves of Goosebumps books and merchandise and an introduction to one of the company's founders, Jane Stine, who gave me a run down of the operations. "My husband Bob is very active with the new generation of readers," she explained.
"Bob," as it turned out, was short for Robert Lawrence Stine, a.k.a R.L. Stine, the Stephen King of children's literature himself. Yup, I was standing in the office responsible for keeping those characters that I grew up with alive today. Parachute handled the production and licensing for many series geared towards children and adults, including Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Mostly Ghostly. My job was to work with the editorial and marketing departments to process paperwork related to reprints and do research for new projects. I spent the summer doing just that, but also soaking up stories about how the original tales were developed and observing how the Stines masterfully created a world where it's exciting to be scared and even more thrilling to get lost in a good read. Yes, working with this small, hands-on team provided me with a crash course in how books are printed, but what I really took away from the experience was how Stine turned his passion for storytelling into a thriving career. Years later, I saw that passion at play once again when Stine (who clearly has a few things keeping his schedule busy) kindly agreed to visit the middle school that my now-husband was working for at the time.
When I heard that the film adaptation of the beloved series (in theaters now, starring Jack Black, nonetheless) topped the box office during opening weekend, it gave me a serious case of nostalgia, not just for reading the series that my generation grew up with, but for the summer I spent reliving the magic of those books.