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Meeting the Author: Ellen Hopkins
Two weeks ago, Jefferson Market Library had a “Meet the Author” event featuring Ellen Hopkins. Hopkins, whose novels have made the New York Times best-seller list, NYPL’s Stuff for the Teen Age, and have been picked for the New York State Summer Reading Program, began the event by talking about her newest novel, Tricks. Tricks follows the lives of five teenage prostitutes living in Las Vegas and the struggles they have gone through in order to survive. Hopkins mentioned that she began writing the story after learning that the average age of a prostitute in the United States was only twelve years old. Shocked by this fact, she started to research the reasons why the age was so young, and her discoveries eventually began to shape into a story. Following Tricks, we got a sneak-peek at her yet-to-be-released novel Fall-Out, a companion novel to Crank and Glass. Following along with the theme of addiction, Fall-Out will be from the perspective of the teenage children of addicts.
Hopkins said that she began writing non-fiction informational books and newspaper articles, but was compelled to write her first novel, Crank, as a method for coping with her own daughter’s addiction to crystal meth. Since then, she has gained inspiration for stories from real-life fans who have written her letters about their lives and from statistics she has learned about teenagers. For example, her novel Impulse, about several teens in a psychiatric hospital, was written after she learned that the overwhelming majority of female teens who attempt suicide do it because of a bad break-up. When asked why she writes her novels in poetry, Hopkins responded that it allows her to get inside the heads of her characters and it gives readers an “along for the ride” feel while they read the novel.