R.L. Stine has been creeping out kids for decades, but there was one time he went a bit too far in his beloved Goosebumps franchise. Apparently cannibalism is where you draw the line.
While talking to Entertainment Weekly, Stine revealed he usually got notes back from his publisher to make his stories scarier, at least until 1993’s The Girl Who Cried Monster. In Stine’s original draft of the book, the eighth in the Goosebumps series, he had a teacher literally eating children he captures. Which, yeah, might be a bit too much for the target pre-teen audience. Luckily, Stine had a backup plan.
Here’s an excerpt from Stine’s comments:
“Usually my editors are saying to me, ‘Hype it up… make it scarier.’ [But] there was one time, very early, where I did a Goosebumps book and everyone thought I had gone too far. It was a very early Goosebumps book called ‘The Girl Who Cried Monster.’ This girl realizes that the librarian is a monster. But no one will believe her.
In my original manuscript, the librarian eats a kid. And everyone thought that maybe was going a little too far. They said, ‘You can’t eat a kid in Goosebumps.’ So I changed it. I put a big bowl of live turtles on the librarian’s desk. And every once in a while, the librarian would reach out and grab a turtle and chew it. Eat it up. Which actually is better than a kid. It’s crunchier. It’s a lot crunchier. And you can hear it. It’s more horrifying, I think. That was the one time I went too far.”
Considering how many books Stine has cranked out over the years in this series, and the perfect balance of creepy and accessible to the kiddie audience, it’s interesting to get a peek into his creative process. Turns out those Goosebumps books could’ve been a whole lot darker.