“Any writer who gives a reader a pleasurable experience is doing every other writer a favor because it will make the reader want to read other books. I am all for it.” – S.E. Hinton
While still in her teens, Hinton became a household name as the author of The Outsiders, her first and most popular novel, set in Oklahoma in the 1960s. She began writing it in 1965 inspired by two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, at Will Rogers High School where she was a senior. Her desire was to show sympathy toward the Greasers by writing from their point of view.
She marketed it to publishers herself and in 1967 New York City-based Viking Press took a chance on it. Good idea on their part. To date, it’s sold 14 million and still sells over 100,000 copies annually.
Since then, book after book by Hinton have been acclaimed for their realism and amazing attention to the details that Young Adults not only identify with but embrace, and they say she is a true spokesperson for their points of view. America’s YA librarians have agreed, giving her the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her body of work on behalf of youth and young adults. The librarians noted that in reading Hinton's novels "a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them."
S.E. Hinton near her childhood home
Her other key works, known now to four generations of YA readers, are That Was Then, This Is Now; and Rumble Fish. Hinton, who turns 67 today, is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame, acclaimed for “books that leave a reader both satisfied and wanting more.”
“How a piece ends is very important to me,” she said. “It's the last chance to leave an impression with the reader, the last shot at 'nailing' it. I love to write ending lines; usually, I know them first and write toward them, but if I knew how they came to me,” she added with a twinkle in her voice, “I wouldn't tell.”
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