Author Q&A: S.E. Hinton

Teen oracle S.E. Hinton has a book out for grown-ups

In 1967, long before Harry potter and Hogwarts, there was Ponyboy and the greasers. Author S.E. Hinton, then 18, didn't set out to be the voice of a generations, but her first novel, The Outsiders, about a fraternity of curiously tender young toughs, went on to become one of the most popular young-adult novels of all time, selling over 8 million copies and being translated into 21 languages. She then secured her iconoclastic status and retained her largely pimple-riddled fan base by penning four more successful books for teens. But as the first generation to dog-ear the pages of The Outsiders got older, so did Hinton. Lucky for us all, she's now writing adult fiction. Check out this month's Some of Tim's Stories, written from the perspective of a bartender named, you bet, Tim.

MC: You've said Some of Tim's Stories is among your best writing. How so?

HINTON: I'm a good judge of my own work. These stories are mature, intense, and emotionally involving.

MC: Is Tim based on someone you know?

HINTON: I never base a character on someone I know. You can get ideas from real life, but every character you write is some aspect of yourself. I had Tim hanging around for a long time before I decided he'd write stories. I think readers will know the man from the stories he writes.

MC: Have you ever written anything that's just crap?

HINTON: Many, many things. Some of them I keep around in hopes of getting back to them and revising. For instance, I wrote the first chapter of the book I am working on now many years ago--I'm just now getting back to it. It's a paranormal comedy thriller.

MC: The Outsiders is like the Bible to generations of angsty teenagers. Did its success surprise you?

HINTON: In a way. After all, I was just a high-school kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But I was desperate for something to read that dealt realistically with teenage life, and I thought others might be, too.

MC: The pressure after it sold so well must have been enormous. How did you handle it?

HINTON: All of a sudden it felt like people were peering over my shoulder, wondering what I would write next. I was blocked for four years. My boyfriend--now my husband--suggested I write two pages a day. He wouldn't take me out if I hadn't done my two pages. That's how I wrote my second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now. I've haven't worried about an audience or had writer's block since.

MC: What did your son say when he read The Outsiders?

HINTON: He didn't say much, but I got the feeling he thought, It's OK, Mom, but you're no Tolkien.

MC: Four of your books have been turned into movies. If your life story became a movie who would play you?

HINTON: Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine. We do the exact same striptease. It's uncanny.

Click here to purchase Some of Tim's Stories by S.E.Hinton.