Writers Write: My Favourite Book 7

Holly Harper

The first time I saw a Goosebumps book, I fell in love.

I was eight, and the fact that the title was written in blood-like lettering and contained the words ‘Dead House’ meant that it was instantly the coolest thing I had ever laid eyes on. And once I’d managed to get past the hypnotic front cover, I found the story was even better – haunted houses, monsters, and everything that was scary-but-not-too-scary-for-an-eight-year-old. I was in horror heaven.

I quickly devoured every Goosebumps book I could get my hands on, tearing through the titles that explored the spooky side of everything from piano lessons to haunted cameras. I set up a Goosebumps Fan Club in my class at school, and together with a friend ran what was perhaps the world’s first R.L. Stine-only lending library. And even Stine’s legendary writing rate of sixty two books in five years couldn’t satisfy my appetite – I always wanted more, scouring the local library for series like it. I’ll never forget the librarian who tried to offer me The Babysitters Club as an alternative. I applaud her optimism.

Eventually the shine started to wear off. I started to realise that many of the books shared startling similarities (I think it was in Stine’s contract to include ‘cotton mouth’ in every book) and besides, it was 1997 and Goosebumps just wasn’t cool any more. We had Hanson to think about instead. When I finally read the last page of The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, I knew the romance was over.

Still, one thing that has stayed with me from my Goosebumps days is my love of all things horror, and now that I work in kids’ and young adult books, I get to read all of the brilliant new horror titles out there for younger readers, like books by Charlie Higson, Joseph Delaney and Darren Shan.

So now when I read a brilliant book from the likes of these authors, I realise I have Goosebumps to thank for shaping (warping?) my young mind. You never forget your first love.


Holly’s latest book is Star League 8: Final Cut, from Random House Australia. For more, visit Holly’s website.