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Fall Spotlight: Ellen Hopkins

Ellen Hopkins
Ellen Hopkins
via the authors website

Ellen Hopkins is known for her poetic verse novels, where she turns literary works of art into deeper, further evolved tapestries. If you’ve never read her novels before, you’re in for a treat. Hopkins is more than a master of storytelling – she’s a weaver of truth with authenticity and flare. Writing for both the adult and young adult market, her novels are crossovers, so when you’re in the mood to curl up in front of the fire, no matter your age, Hopkins has a book for you.

Do you choose your stories or do they choose you?

I'd say it's a team effort. The ideas for stories often come to me from outside sources, especially readers. If enough people suggest the same story idea, I definitely consider it. But almost always the stories morph in the telling, and with the creation of characters, who absolutely have minds of their own.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? An author? Were the two synonymous?

I considered myself a writer as soon as I knew how to put words down on paper. I was one of those annoying kids who was always writing something. Poetry. Stories. Essays. I even loved those science reports we had to do. I kid you not, I'd start them early and make them waaaaay longer than I needed to. I considered myself an author with the publication of my first nonfiction book for kids. "Author" in my mind connotes books. Even when I was regularly publishing freelance magazine and newspaper articles I still thought of myself as a writer, not an author.

If you had to live inside one story for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?

That's a very hard question. I mean, stories, at least good ones, require conflict, don't they? Is there a story lacking conflict? Maybe I'd settle in there. Then again, a total lack of conflict would mean a very boring life. Can't go too far back in time--I seriously wouldn't like living without certain amenities. Flush toilets, for instance. Can't go too far forward, either. No Dystopian nightmares for me! Maybe something with horses. A very cute cowboy. I've got it! BURNED, knowing what I know, which would let me change the ending.

What is the most important lack in your life?

No contest. Time. I could use a dozen more hours in every day and a dozen more days in every month. Just imagine all I could accomplish!

Reading is a subjective beast, and inevitably you can’t please all the readers all the time. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author. What has been the best compliment.

I've been accused, in roundabout ways, of being a hack because I'm so productive. But I know writers who produce way more than I do. That hurts because every word I put on a page is there for a specific reason. I'm deliberate. Precise. Truly, I wish I could give my readers more every year than I do. As for the best compliment, I hear it fairly regularly. "Your book literally saved my life." The thing is, that trumps any criticism. Attack my syntax, imagery, grammar. Whatever. There is power in what I write. You can't critique that.

Bonus round:

Chocolate or vanilla?

Dark chocolate.

Dogs or cats?

I have both, but if I had to pick one, dogs. German shepherds, to be exact.

Hard/paperback or eReader?

Not big on the digital experience. I'll take hardcovers every time.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee. Black. One Splenda.

Light side or dark side?

Well, that one's easy, isn't it?

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