After years and years of being a huge Ellen Hopkins fan, I've had the honor of sitting down with her, and asking her the questions every fan has been waiting to ask. This experience was beyond a pleasure for me, this was a dream come true. I even got to meet Ms Hopkins last year in Miami (which was incredible!)...
...and she was amazing, but because of her willingness to do this for a fan and blogger, my appreciation and fondness has grown. Thank you, Ellen, for granting me this honor!
Here's my interview with New York Times Bestselling Author, and inspiration of mine, Ellen Hopkins.
The Literary Connoisseur: Hello, Ellen! Thank you so much for stopping by The Literary Connoisseur and answering some questions. Your fans and I are just itching to know the answers! If you're ready, let's begin. Please tell us a bit about how the plot of "Crank" came to you.Ellen Hopkins: I lived the plot of CRANK, through my daughter's addiction to crystal meth. It was (and continues to be, eighteen years later) a fight for her life and sanity. I wrote the book to gain some understanding of the addiction process and how we lost a brilliant, beautiful young woman to the clutches of meth. I published to book because I wanted to offer the insight I gained to readers and, hopefully, stop a few from making the same choices my daughter did.
The Literary Connoisseur: Have you always been a fan and lover of poetry?Ellen Hopkins: I have, in fact. I published my first poem when I was nine years old, and continued to publish poetry through high school and college. Later, I joined a local poetry group, where I was lucky enough to gain an amazing mentor who showed me that poetry shouldn't have to be hard to read. It should be accessible, and relatable.
The Literary Connoisseur: What would you like to hear from young adults who have read your books?Ellen Hopkins: Messages from my readers tend to be: 1. I love your books. (<3) 2. I never finished a book before and I read yours in two hours, and am looking for the rest of them. (<3 <3) and 3. Your books changed/saved my life. (Inestimable gratitude always!)
The Literary Connoisseur: As you probably know, Crank has been banned a few times in schools and libraries. What is your opinion on book banning? How do you feel about Crank being banned?Ellen Hopkins: I think book banning is the result of fear, and being afraid of books, or the information they contain, is patently ridiculous. I've heard from literally tens of thousands of readers who've told me CRANK kept them from taking Kristina's path, or thanked me for giving them insight into a loved one's addiction. Addiction is scary. Talking about it isn't. It's vital.
The Literary Connoisseur: If you could say anything to anyone who was ever skeptical about your success, what would you say to them?Ellen Hopkins: That I worked very hard to get here. I wrote for years before I ever realized success, and each of those years taught me how to write better and find my voice. I continue to get better, in my opinion, with every book, and that is a goal for me. I never took shortcuts, never believed my work was better than those rejections slips told me it was. Instead, I found my way beyond rejection by learning my craft.
The Literary Connoisseur: Please tell us a bit about Ventana Sierra.Ellen Hopkins: Ventana Sierra is the nonprofit I founded in 2012 to help youth-in-need off the streets, into safe housing and working toward career goals through higher education and the arts. We're looking for highly motivated young people, aged 17-25, who are willing to work hard and find a path to success. Some of our "kids" are aged-out of foster care, or have found themselves homeless for whatever reasons.
The Literary Connoisseur: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment as an author?Ellen Hopkins: That I've written books that will remain on bookshelves and the hearts of my readers long after I've left this world.
The Literary Connoisseur: What would you like to say to aspiring authors out there?Ellen Hopkins: To be patient. Don't rush into self publishing because of a few rejections. Work hard to develop your craft and find your voice. It might take years, like it did in my case. But every person you meet, every experience you have, every place you travel will only deepen your writing and make it more important to your readers. Don't come here looking for money. If that's the reason you're writing, you'll only find disappointment. If you write great books (not good books), the money will follow.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you have a favorite place to sit down and write? If so, where?Ellen Hopkins: Absolutely my office, which has big windows to the Sierra (thus the name of the nonprofit: Ventana = window, and yes I know it isn't exactly grammatically correct!). I love where I live and will never move.
The Literary Connoisseur: Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?Ellen Hopkins: With fifteen or twenty more books under my belt.
The Literary Connoisseur: What are the noticeable differences between writing YA books, and writing regular fiction books?Ellen Hopkins: YA is about discovery. Adult is about reflection, even within genre, because the adult experience is all about comparison.
The Literary Connoisseur: Are you currently working on any new projects?Ellen Hopkins: RUMBLE, the next YA, is finished and in production, set for a September 2014 release. I'm currently writing TANGLED, the next adult. It's a psychological thriller, set for a Spring 2015 release.
For more on Ellen Hopkins,
check out her website here!
Her Facebook page here!
Her Ventana Sierra website here!
And her Ventana Sierra Facebook page here!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Please check out Ellen's books, they truly are incredible and life-changing. Happy Reading, my lovely Lit-Wits!