If you’re here, you’re probably looking for help with reports. First off, thanks for choosing my books, and me. I really appreciate being an author you want to read! A few things you need to know:
The most important thing is you have to read the book(s)! Most of your questions will be answered by reading carefully, not just skimming. (They’re too good to skim over anyway.) Please don’t ask who the main characters are, or what the plot is. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know.
On themes. A theme is a universal idea or message that the book embodies. If your teacher asks you what the theme of the book is, it’s up to you to decide. I won’t give you that answer. Some common themes are lost love, betrayal, faith versus doubt, fear of failure, circle of life, quest for power, temptation, pride and downfall. For a list of 101 common themes, go here:
I would love to be able to do a personal interview with each of you. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have the time (see #6, below). You will find most of the answers you need on this website. Feel free to quote this site as if you asked me these questions personally.
For information on me, please see my About page, which has my biographical info. If you need more in-depth publishing information, including a list of awards, please visit my Vitale page. For a list of frequently asked questions, and their answers, please go to the FAQ page. And each book has its own information page. Still other great information can be found on my blog. Be sure to scroll all the way through the old ones! http://ellenhopkins.livejournal.com
If you still have questions you can’t find the answer to here, you mail email up to five questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have writing related questions, please stop by my For Writers page. There’s a lot there about process, publishing, poetry, etc.
I cannot read your writing and comment. There are legalities involved, but it’s mostly because I really don’t have the time. What am I doing? Traveling for book signings, book festivals, school or library events, and writers conferences; publicity; social networking; raising a teenager and a husband (both are labor-intensive); spending precious hours with my grown children, grandchildren and friends; taking care of my home, yard and garden; depending on the time of year, canning vegetables or shoveling snow; caring for my animals; exercising so I can stay healthy; volunteering time as a regional adviser for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators; and, of course, writing.
A really great resource for teen writers is this website: www.inkpop.com . It’s done by Harper, a large publishing house. They promise critique and, if they find something amazing written by a teen, publication!
I wish I could clone myself so I could visit every school and town. There wouldn’t be enough time in my lifetime to do that, however. So I probably can’t come visit your school, unless a teacher or librarian arranges the visit. There is an honorarium and travel expenses required to bring me in. And, again because of time constraints, I can only do so many in a year. Some kids have done fundraisers to bring me in, and these still require an adult request. These can be made through:email@example.com
Requests for Skype visits can also be made there.
Here are some FAQs you won’t find on the FAQ page.
Q: How do you research your books?
A: I do as much primary research as I can. This involves in-person, telephone or online interviews with people who have faced the issues I’m writing about. So, with Tricks, I spent time talking to teen prostitutes on the street, and by email. Then I do a lot of secondary research—with experts, on websites, through magazine or newspaper articles and books, etc.
Q: How much time do you spend writing every day?
A: When I’m home and not under deadline, at least six hours. Under deadline, that could be much more. When I travel, I try to write at least an hour or two every day. This includes vacations, holidays, and weekends. Writing is my career, but it’s also my heart. Not writing makes me unhappy.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: It may interest you (and your teacher) to know that I don’t write drafts. Because each poem flows so specifically into the next, each must be pretty much “right” before I move on. That means I may spend those six hours creating just three pages, especially in the early part of the book, when I’m just getting to know my characters and learning their stories. I do, however, spend many hours in prewrite, creating those characters. I get to know them almost all in my head. Some writers do elaborate charts, family trees, etc. Others outline plot. I do neither. So, when I complete a book, I do one read-through for glaring errors, then send it off to my fabulous editor, who I trust to tell me if something isn’t working.
Q: What’s the best part of being a writer?
A: Everything! I get paid to do what I love. Is there anything better than that? I set my own hours, don’t answer to a boss, and don’t have anyone griping at me. Okay, a few people gripe sometimes, but that’s their problem.
Q: What’s the worst part of being a writer?
A: Budgeting. The money I earn comes in once every six months, so I have to make sure I don’t spend too much today to make paying my bills next month impossible. And I’m sooooooo not a math person!
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A: Pretty much from the first time I realized the power of “story.” So I guess I was in high school when I decided that, though I did take a wide life detour that finally brought me back to my dream of writing as a career in my thirties. Keep striving for those dreams! They don’t always come easily or right away.
Q: What do you think about people who want to censor your books?
A: I think they’re misinformed at best and dangerous at worst. Please refer to my livejournal blogs for more information.