AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR Q & A
R.L. STINE and TIM JACOBUS
Why is Tim Jacobus R.L. Stine's favorite illustrator? Maybe because they've done so many scary books together. Tim did the cover paintings for more than 80 Goosebumps books, as well as the six amazing Amazon books. Recently, the two of them got together and asked the questions they've always wanted to ask each other...
TIM ASKS R.L. ...
TIM ASKS: When I illustrate, I can "see" the image in my head before I start to draw. Do you "hear" a story when you write? If so, is it your voice or is it someone like James Earl Jones?
R.L ANSWERS: I hear kids when I write. I try to hear the voice of the boy or girl who is telling the story. I visit schools a lot and talk with kids so I can keep up with what they are saying these days and what real kids sound like. Then I try to hear their voices tell the story as I write it.
TIM ASKS: You’ve written so many books I can’t do the math, but I bet you’ve used millions of words. What's you favorite word?
R.L. ANSWERS: Someone once got in an elevator with a very witty author named Noel Coward and said, "Say something funny." And Coward said, "Kangaroo." Kangaroo has been a favorite word of mine ever since I heard that story. But as a horror writer, I guess my favorite word is SCREAM!
TIM ASKS: Where is the strangest place you have come up with an idea for a story?
R.L ANSWERS: An empty movie theater. My wife and I went to see a scary movie in a big, old movie house-- and we were the only ones in the theater. It was kind of creepy. Then about halfway through the movie, I turned around and saw that the back row was filled with people sitting straight and still. Suddenly, I thought-- They are zombies! I'm trapped in a dark zombie theater! And that's where the idea for the book Zombie Town came from.
TIM ASKS: If you couldn't write-- and you possessed all skills-- what would you like to do for a living?
R.L ANSWERS: I drew comic strips from the time I was in 4th grade, and I always dreamed of being a cartoonist. You can imagine my shock when the other kids told me how bad my art was. They were right. I stunk! I got over my extreme disappointment by starting to write. But if I had the skill, I would love to do what you do, Tim.
R.L. ASKS TIM...
R.L. ASKS: If you couldn't be an artist what would you like to be?
TIM ANSWERS: I would like to be a "Snowmaker" at one of the big ski resorts, out west, like Mammoth Mountain in California. You work at night when everyone goes home. Set up the snow guns, cover the slopes, and groom them with the Sno-Cat track machine. It's kinda like a snow tank! Then, you get to ski for free! I love that snow!
R.L. STINE ASKS: When we were kids, my brother and I used to go to a horror movie every Saturday. We loved them all. The covers on our six Amazon books look like movie posters to me. Were you also influenced by horror movies? If so, which ones?
TIM ANSWERS: I was a complete "chicken" as a kid. I couldn't sit through any horror movie. The first scary movie I saw was on TV. It isn't really a horror movie. It was the Hunchback of Notre Dame-- the black-and-white version with Charles Laughton. That movie freaked me out! The mutant, Quasimodo, was something that REALLY could exist. Black-and-white movies, black-and-white photos—they all seem more "real" than full color to me.
R.L. STINE ASKS: You have painted so many great covers. I think your scariest Goosebumps cover was for The Barking Ghost. And the black cat on The 13th Warning is really creepy. Do you have a favorite cover? Is it a scary one or a funny one?
TIM ANSWERS: It's hard to pick a favorite. But you gotta love the blue bathroom blobs in Monster Blood IV. That one is a little creepy and WAY funny. For just outright scary, I love the ticket taker in Zombie Town!
R.L. STINE ASKS: What was the weirdest thing someone ever asked you to draw?
TIM ANSWERS: Oh, I have drawn a lot of weird stuff. One time, I had to paint a pimple! You know... acne! It was a medical illustration. Gross. When I first started illustrating, I painted pictures of food. My food illustrations were used in the Sunday newspaper for the local supermarket. I painted every food you can imagine. I can draw a pretty mean potato!
About the Author
R.L. (Robert Lawrence) Stine is one of the best-selling children's authors in history. His Goosebumps series, along with such series as Fear Street, The Nightmare Room, Rotten School, and Mostly Ghostly have sold nearly 400 million books in this country alone. And they are translated into 32 languages.
The Goosebumps TV series was the top-rated kids’ series for three years in a row. R.L.’s TV movies, including The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think About It and Mostly Ghostly, are perennial Halloween favorites. And his scary TV series, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, is in its second season on The Hub network.
R.L. continues to turn out Goosebumps books, published by Scholastic. In addition, his first horror novel for adults in many years, titled Red Rain, will be published by Touchstone books in October, 2012.
R.L. says that he enjoys his job of “scaring kids.” But the biggest thrill for him is turning kids on to reading.
R.L. lives in New York City with his wife, Jane, an editor and publisher, and King Charles Spaniel, Minnie. His son, Matthew, is a sound designer and music producer.