Hint Hinton

S. E. Hinton made a relatively rare personal appearance at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this week, and made sure to drop plenty of juicy details during her Q&A (“S. E. Hinton, a.k.a. Your Majesty,” by Cecil Castellucci, Jacket Copy). Mostly Hinton was there to talk about her recent Some of Tim’s Stories, but let’s face it–we want the scoop on how, at the tender age of 16, Hinton pounded out a masterpiece like The Outsiders.

“When I was young, all the books were about a Mary Jane and the football player and the prom and ending up with the quiet guy and making your mom happy,” she said.  “Well, I’d been to a few proms, and it was about who got killed in the parking lot and who’s got the booze inside.”

Yeah, that pretty much squares with my prom experience, too. And how did Hinton shape that crackerjack of a plot?

As the story expanded, she began telling her friends that she was writing a book. “I asked my friends what should happen in the story, and they would say, ‘Oh, the church should burn down.’ ” So she would say OK, and then the church would burn down.

Plot by committee? Whatever works!  And her influence continues: I’m currently reading Break, the debut novel of recent high school graduate Hannah Moskowitz (August, Simon Pulse), and both Moskowitz’s age and style remind me of Hinton. Here’s hoping Moskowitz, too, can stay golden.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

2 Comments on "Hint Hinton"

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  1. Laura says:

    I was lucky enough to attend a publisher dinner for S. E. (AKA “Suzy”) at a recent conference. Not only was she totally approachable and not intimidating at all (somehow I thought she might be), but she also told great stories about being on the set for the filming of some of her books. My favorite story involved her teaching Matt Dillon how to ride a horse. Apparently he wasn’t much of an equestrian.

  2. My name is Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. I was featured in Spike Lee’s HBO Documentary; “When The Levees Broke.” I am the author of “Not Just The Levees Broke” My Story During And After Hurricane Katrina. Foreword by: Spike Lee. (Memoir). August 19, 2008. Simon and Schuster. Agent: William Morris Talent Agency. I was recently hired by David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire” as a primary performer in his new HBO TV Series; “Treme” focusing on New Orleans Musicians and Cooks. Pilot finished April, 2009. Slated for 2010. Currently working on manuscript for next memoir; “No More Wire Hangers” about teenage domestic abuse. I’m stuck with the beginning. Have the middle and know the ending,any suggestions?

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