Home » Interview: How A Fan Contest Helped Shape A Sequel To The Most Controversial Fear Street Book

Interview: How A Fan Contest Helped Shape A Sequel To The Most Controversial Fear Street Book

Perhaps the most infamous entry in the Fear Street franchise is The Best Friend, a story of gaslighting and manipulation many refer to as “Single White Female on Fear Street.” Fans hated the ending so much that they were given the chance to send in their ideas of how the book should have ended.

Written and released in 1992, The Best Friend told the story of Becka Norwood and Honey Perkins. Honey appears in Becka’s bedroom one day, exclaiming how happy she is to be reunited with her best best friend. The thing is, Becka’s got no idea who Honey is. Nor do her actual friends Lilah Brewer and Trish Walters. The girls think they remember Honey from grade school, but aren’t sure.  

Honey starts shoving her way into Becka’s life, taking her things and claiming Becka said it was okay while reminiscing about the old days that Becka doesn’t believe happened. Soon Honey’s dressing like Becka, gets her hair styled like Becka, and even starts dating Becka’s ex-boyfriend. Lilah and Trish think this is hilarious, ignoring how obviously distressed Becka is. Her parents think Honey’s great, and Becka’s boyfriend Bill downplays her concerns despite admitting Honey came on to him.

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That’s when Lilah and Trish have their “accidents.” Lilah’s brakes on her bike give out and she gets hit by a truck. Trish falls down the stairs during her Christmas party and breaks her neck. Both girls are lucky to survive. No one believes Becka when she exclaims that Honey’s responsible. In the middle of a high fever, Becka snaps when she discovers Bill is at Honey’s house and passes out from exhaustion. Honey freaks out when Bill (already angry realizing Honey lied about Becka knowing he was there) tries to help Becka. She exclaims Becka is hers and stabs Bill in the chest.

As Becka wakes up, Honey assures her that she won’t go to jail. Honey promises to tell the police that Bill attacked them and Becka stabbed him in self-defense. She’s not going to let anything happen to her best BEST friend.

Now, The Best Friend was the first Fear Street book I ever laid eyes on when I saw it in K-Mart back in elementary school. At the time, I had absolutely no idea how this book enraged so many readers. R.L. Stine himself told me at a book signing a few years back how fans hated the ending with a passion because of Honey getting away with her crimes.

In 1996, a contest was held to let fans determine a suitable punishment for Honey Perkins. Promoted in books such as The Boy Next Door, the contest rules dictated readers could send in a 500 word essay explaining the best way to deal with Honey. The winning entry would be selected as the basis for a follow-up book.

Released in 1997, The Best Friend 2 featured Sara Bikman of Grafton, Wisconsin as the winner. Sara’s input helped shape the novel, which followed Honey and Becka after that fateful December. The sequel also shed light on Honey’s past, finally revealing how she originally knew Becka Norwood, the reason why she vanished, and the cause of her obsession with Becka. It also reveals that Bill miraculously survived his stabbing, but lost a lung.

Honey’s real name is revealed to be “Hannah Paulsen” and she went to elementary school with Becka and her friends when they were kids. Exhausted from how bossy, whiny, and clingy Hannah was, Becka’s group tricked her into totally humiliating herself at a school assembly to make her finally leave them alone. The following night, Hannah was traumatized when she watched her father shoot and kill her twin brother Harold and their mother before he turned the gun on himself. 

After a bit of digging around, I was able to locate Sara Bikman (now Sara Graves) on Facebook and reached out to her about the contest, her thoughts about the original Best Friend, and what it was like being a Fear Street fan in the ’90s.

WH: Now then, you were the winner for the “What Should Happen To Honey” contest in 1996. What was it like working on your contest entry?

Sara: In ‘96 I was 15, and I had been hooked on Fear Street for a few years by then. I was a total bookworm, I think I read every Fear Street novel and Baby-Sitters Club book through elementary school and into middle school.

I remember hearing about the contest and I was excited to type it up on our new family computer. When I started writing, I found myself going really deep into my own trauma from that time. I think in the sequel, Honey was in the 5th or 6th grade, the same age as I was while going through some pretty dark things. I was really able to see the pre-quel (in the sequel) from Honey’s perspective. I could relate to being driven mad by bullies in your peer group or humiliated publicly, which is kind of the basis for Honey’s obsession with Becka.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this back then. Now, when I look back at where I was at that time in my life, I deeply relate to that.

WH: How did it feel when you got the announcement that your entry won the contest?

Sara: I mean, I loved getting mail! So when this big official looking envelope came with my name on it and the return address was in New York City, I could not imagine what could have been in there. I thought for sure, someone was asking me to come study at NYU immediately, forget the rest of high school–just leave Wisconsin and move there.

When I saw that I had won the contest, I barely remembered it. I think quite a bit of time had passed from when I actually wrote it until it ended up being chosen. I could be wrong, but either way, I was like “Oh my god, what did I write?”

Luckily whatever I wrote had been chosen and I was being invited to NYC to meet R.L. Stine. I got to bring my mom and–you’ll never guess–my best friend.

WH: What were your thoughts when The Best Friend 2 got published? Was there anything in your contest entry that wasn’t used for the final book?

Sara: It’s been so long since I’ve read it. I remember bringing it with me to my college dorm room, so I probably looked through it back then. I believe they pretty much used everything I gave them. I remember feeling like I wasn’t sure about how they would tie it all together, and truthfully, I don’t even recall whether they did or didn’t. You tell me!

Now you’re making me want to reread both books!

I remember seeing my name in print on the first page, the paragraph explaining about the contest and how I had won. It was a sweet moment of recognition to someone who often felt unseen and who was a little prone to not seeing herself. Myself. You know what I mean.

WH: What were your overall thoughts about the original Best Friend? I’m guessing you were indeed one of those fans who hated that ending too.

Sara: I definitely rolled with the camp that wanted justice for Bill and for Becka. But I also wanted readers to realize that Honey felt misunderstood. Maybe subconsciously it was a cautionary tale. I wanted Honey to be held accountable, but I also wanted there to be a deeper reason behind her enviousness.

WH: As someone who was reading Fear Street during its original publication, what was it like being a fan back then when it was all brand new?

Sara: I mean, nothing is nostalgic when it’s new, but even back then, I was aware they were special because in my mind, those books allowed us to go to some slightly darker places in a safe way. As a kid who wasn’t able to really talk about some of the things I was going through, Fear Street was a place I could go to at least acknowledge that the tough stuff existed, while escaping it at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved me some BSC and Sweet Valley High, but Fear Street was different, and I loved it for that.

WH: What were some of your favorite and least favorite books?

Sara: The Halloween Party, because my birthday is on Halloween, so that was an automatic fave. I loved Lights Out because, of course, summer camp is classically creepy! 

WH: Have you been following anything from the franchise in the last few years, like the Netflix trilogy or the newest books?

 Sara: I didn’t even know there were new books out until right now, but I would love to revisit the series and see what is happening on Fear Street in 2023!

WH: What have you currently been up to right now?

Sara: I am a Reiki practitioner, a Human Design Coach, an artist, and I’m a virtual assistant. I’m a baseball taxi driver + an equestrian cheerleader, carting my kids around to their various activities. I have been writing more lately, I have an idea for writing about a few moms in a cul-de-sac post-pandemic–talk about Fear Street!

WH: Thank you again Sara, it was great reaching out to you about your role in Fear Street history.

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Written by Jude Deluca
Jude Deluca is a Capricorn who identifies somewhere under the ‘asexual' banner. Their gender identity is up in the air at the moment. As a horror lover, Jude's specialty is the discussion of young adult horror fiction like Goosebumps and Fear Street. Jude proudly owns the complete Graveyard School series by Nola Thacker. Jude's favorite horror sequel is A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Their favorite final girl is Alice Johnson. As a child, Jude was the only nine-year-old at their school who knew everything about 1959's The Bat. Jude's dislikes include remakes that take themselves too seriously and torture porn.
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