Ellen Hopkins has made an appearance at Barnes and Noble Bella Terra in Huntington Beach, CA on Janury 27, 2017 (7p.m.) to feature her newest young adult novel, The You I’ve Never Known. This is one of her first stops on her roughly two week journey to share her story with high school students and share about her new book as well as the writing process at various book signings.
As a future educator wanting to teach in the area, I was excited to hear that Ellen Hopkins got to visit two of the high school campuses in the area. Being the iconic figure she is in young adult fiction, it is the real stories behind the scenes that make the novels so true to the heart and real, and that is just what many adolescents need.
Her first novel, Crank, was a close-to-home novel in Ellen’s own experiences, and it is the true story of her and her daughter that she shares with the students at the high schools.
Her newest novel, The You I’ve Never Known, is also based on true events from her life. This is the second time I have had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Hopkins, and both times she has done a short reading of the first few pages of her newest novel (at the time). She is an excellent reader and reading her iconic poetry format is always an enjoyable listen. The novel is based on the experience that Ellen had when her own daughter was kidnapped by a father who did not have custody. The girl was only three and could not have possibly understood what was going on, becoming a victim for nearly three years, until Ellen went into the school her daughter was in, after finally finding her, and stole her back.
While this may give away the novel a little bit, the twist is still one of those Ellen Hopkins-worthy twists that have the reader eating up the last couple hundred pages, but all that good information on the book itself will be in my review of The You I’ve Never Known.
Of course, there were quite a number of young people present, and many in the crowd ask questions about writing and publishing. Ellen offers the same information most authors offer, but with a few acceptations. She recommends traditional publishing if you really want your work to be seen and have time to write more. Self-publishing is hard. It’s an option, but it’s also a lot of work that you may not have time for. She also shared how she edits. Since her stories are written in poetry snippets, Ellen revises very carefully as she writes. Unlike a regular novel where you can go back and add things or take things out as needed, it is very hard to do such a thing with the way she segues her poems with such precision.
The other story she shared was how she was picked up as an author in the first place. She has written a great deal of non-fiction before, but when someone saw her first few pages of Crank, they wanted the whole thing within a certain deadline. Once it was finished, it was a major hit and is still a bestseller today.
It is always a pleasure to be graced with the works of Ellen Hopkins, and I (among many) will continue to look forward to the stories she has to share next.