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It Came From Ohio: My Life As A Writer (Goosebumps) Paperback – April 1, 1998
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From Publishers Weekly
The author of Fear Street and Goosebumps tells fans what to do with rubber chickens, how he writes two books a week and how he got so scary. Numerous b&w photographs of Stine and his family are included. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—As a tie-in with the Goosebumps film slated for release in October 2015, this mildly self-effacing memoir, originally published in 1997, has been rereleased with a light edit and three new chapters by coauthor Lurie. Until he hit the big time with "Fear Street" and subsequent series, Stine led an unremarkable life—except that his account of a writing apprenticeship demonstrates that his fluent, seemingly effortless prose and plotting are really the result of years of hard work, from a series of homemade joke books begun at age 12 through stints at a college magazine, an industry journal, and Junior Scholastic. The new material, which includes references to overseas tours, new series, and excited comments about the upcoming movie, fits seamlessly with the old. The gags, the hokey snapshot photos strewn throughout, the fan mail quotes ("Dear R.L. Stine, I've read forty of your books—and I think they're really boring!"), and the closing authorial FAQs haven't dated at all. VERDICT A sure hit with "Goosebumps" fans and certain to be a popular choice for biography assignments, too.—John Peters, Children's Literature Consultant, New York City --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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I also like the pictures in the book. They are black and white photographs that look like they came from his family photo album. It’s really cool.
Did you know that R.L. Stine gets a lot of his ideas for his books from real life?
For instance, when he was a kid, he loved watching horror movies. His favorites were It Came From Beneath the Sea and Night of the Living Dead. He was inspired by those and has written the books It Came from Beneath the Sink and Night of the Living Dummy.
One day when he was at camp, he had to earn the “Turtle badge” by jumping in the pool, swimming across and then back. When it was his turn, he was too scared to jump in. Now, he writes the same terror into the characters in his books.
When R.L. Stine was young, he was “fearful” and was not “bold or adventurous”. He said, “I liked staying in my room and writing stories and making little magazines and comics.” I’m exactly like him in that way so I can relate to this. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.
In the back of the book, R.L. Stine answers the top twenty most-asked questions about him and his books.
He says one of the best things about being an author is having your books translated into tons of different languages all around the world. That way so many more people get to read them.
R.L. Stine has written over three hundred thirty books! Did you know that he wrote all those books typing with one finger? Well, it’s true. I think that’s amazing.
At the end of the book, he says, “I’m so grateful to my readers”. He continues to say that he will keep writing books as long as people still enjoy them. I’m so glad R.L. Stine chose to share his life with us.
Reviewed by Connor C, Age 8, Boston Mensa
He's also proud to have been an at-home dad, which is pretty awesome.
Despite being written entirely in first person, It Came From Ohio! was not written by R.L. Stine. The original 1997 edition was written by R.L. Stine's close friend Joe Arthur (although somewhat confusingly marketed as written "in Stine's own words"). In 2015, R.L. Stine's long-time editor Susan Lurie stepped in to update the 'memoir' in preparation for the Goosebumps film starring Jack Black. She updated the original text to reflect more recent events (although dated references to things like TV Guide might still confuse younger readers...), and added about 20 pages of new content. I was personally bothered by the memoir not actually being written by R.L. Stine, but younger readers probably won't care. The writing style attempts to copy the Goosebumps format (expect lots of cliffhangers and punchlines) and reading level, making it suitable for younger readers.
I was most interested in Stine's life as a writer, and how he created his famous series. It turns out he had a lot of luck. Before becoming the YA horror icon, Stine had writing credits for Scholastic's teenage humor magazine Bananas, Zero Heroes bubblegum trading cards; computer magazines (despite not owning a computer); some choose-your-own-adventure Indiana Jones and James Bond books; G.I. Joe adventures; Mighty Mouse and Bullwinkle coloring books; novels based on the Madballs toy line; the Spaceballs novelization; a variety of joke books; and, most notably, lead writing credits for the classic children's show Eureeka's Castle. (Batly the klutzy bat was inspired by Stine's son, with his "I meant to do that!" tagline taken directly from Matt Stine!)
Stine was asked somewhat out of the blue by Scholastic to write a few horror YA novels starting with Blind Date in the '80s, which eventually led to his famous Fear Street series. Goosebumps was later born from trying to translate that horror formula for younger readers, intentionally structuring them to be scary, but ultimately safe and humorous. We also get a look at his Mostly Ghostly, Rotten School, and numerous Goosebumps / Fear Street revivals he's released since Joe Arthur's original biography came out in 1997 (this includes some behind-the-scenes meetings with Jack Black & co. for the 2015 movie). The newer material tends to read more like advertisements rather than a look into R.L. Stine's creative process, and that hurts the quality a bit. We also get a chapter devoted to R.L. Stine's 20 most-asked questions, like where specific book ideas came from, and what his favorites are, etc.
It Came from Ohio! is an interesting look at R.L. Stine's life and the inspirations for his work, but it's also lacking in some regards. The newer material isn't as interesting as it could be, and the sense of humor can be overbearing at times -- there are far too many punchlines in far too many sentences. And It's too brief! I wish there was more behind-the-scenes info on his more famous books.
We do get a couple goodies, though, like:
*Why I'm Afraid of Bees is heavily based on Robert Sheckley's Mindswap novel.
*Calling All Creeps! is based on a college prank Stine played on Ohio State University's student senate, in which he gave their office number as the home phone of a pin-up girl in the college's humor magazine.
*A Night in Terror Tower was based on Stine's visit to the real-life Tower of London. It was also one of the only books to get substantial rewrites to the plot.
*The Girl Who Cried Monster was originally much gorier than what we read today: The monster of the title ate children rather than turtles and snails.
*Monster Blood's inspiration was -- not surprisingly -- pretty mundane: Stine's son stuck a wad of that green slime that comes in plastic containers on the wall, and they couldn't get it off. Boom. Horror novel.
*The Haunted Mask was based on a brief moment when his son's Halloween mask wouldn't come off. It was also the first Goosebumps story to get adapted for the television show.