Christopher Pike is a 36-year-old writer who pens suspenseful novels about misfit teenagers (a peeping tom, a witch, and a murderous cheerleader, among others) — creepy tales that are the equivalent of the Brothers Grimm for the 10-and-over set. (”Remember Me is told from the point of view of a girl who is dead,” he says.) A fast-growing segment in publishing, teen thrillers are not new, but never before have they been as gruesome, deadly, or popular as they are now. With titles like Die Softly, The Knife, and Bury Me Deep consistent best-sellers on the Publishers Weekly, B. Dalton, and Waldenbooks young-adult lists, these page turners may not only make adolescents scream, but read as well.
”I get so many letters that say, ‘I really hate to read but I love your books,”’ says R.L. Stine, the 48-year-old author of Archway Paperbacks’ successful Fear Street series. ”I think kids like the shocks in these books — they like the surprises.”
Kids not only like them — they buy them. ”These are books that kids introduce to other kids, books that kids will buy themselves and pass around,” observes Barbara Genco, a librarian who helps select new titles for children and young adults at the Brooklyn Public Library.
With Pike busy adapting his 1986 thriller Chain Letter into a screenplay and Stine producing eight new titles a year, the shocks and jolts should be coming for quite a while.