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Interview with...

Susan E. Hinton

El Templo #18 (noviembre 2010)
Por El hombre que leía demasiado y Uyulala
5.222 lecturas

Before Outsiders, you wrote two non-published novels. Can you tell us something about them?

One was about the American Civil War, which I wrote in the sixth grade. What made me think I knew anything about the American Civil War is still a mystery to me. The second was about a group of teen-agers working on a dude ranch. It wasn't bad, but it isn't anything I want to re-visit. Most of my stories were about cowboys and horses.

In Outsiders you showed the fights between Greasers and Socs, from different social classes. Do you think that this has changed in USA?

I think kids will always divide into groups, there will always be an "IN" group, and always be an "Out" group. That is human nature and I don't believe it happens only in the USA.

Your first novel had a great success and now is a bestseller (and a longseller). In our country (Spain) is recommended in many highschools very year. How was rising this success at 17 years old? Were you prepared or do you think it would have been better to achieve it when you were older?

The Outsiders started off very slowly, it received some good reviews, but sales slowly developed over the years, mostly by word-of-mouth, and teachers starting to use it in the class room. There really wasn't anything to be "over whelmed" by, except for the first time I became aware of an audience. I think I handled it better than most adults would.

Do you think that this big success has influenced the rest of your literary work?

Well, I am pretty sure I can get novel published, so I am extra careful to make sure it is good.

Your characters have very singular names (Sodapop, Ponnyboy, M&M, Two-bits or Smokey). How do you get those curious names?

I have no idea where I got those weird names, although I did have a cat once named Rusty-James and thought it was too good to waste on a cat. When I was through with the books, though, the names seemed to fit, and I'm glad I didn't change them. However, in the book I am working on now the two main characters are named Jim and Bill.

In your website you explain that you had a writer's block after the publishing of Outsiders. Your boyfriend (now your husband) suggested you to “write two pages a day if you wanted to go anywhere”. Have you had another writer's block again?

No, I have had times when I didn't feel like writing, or couldn't think of anything to write, but that is the only time I truly suffered from writer's block.

After this “writer´s block” you wrote your second novel (That was then, this is now) in which you talk about drugs. A spinny subject. Has this novel been forbidden in any library or school because of this matter?

Yes, almost all of my YA novels have been banned at one time or another.

 

In this novel we found, again, the character of Ponnyboy, now as a secundary. Is it a cameo from Outsiders? Did you use this resort in any other novel?

Yes, I gave Ponyboy a small part in That Was Then. There is a direct connection between That Was Then, and Tex, which takes a very close reading to figure out, but lots of my readers have done it!

There are two usual plots in some of your novels: The relationship between brothers, specially from the point of view of a youngest brother who mythifies the older brother (as in Rumble fish or Tex) and, at the same time, the relationship between two young male friends (as in Outsiders or That was then, this is now). These relationships are based on real experiences?

I've had both a sibling and a close friend, but don't remember drawing on either for my novels. If not, how do you got so much realism? I'm just good at realism. If I can feel it, I can convey it.

  

Four of your novels have been adaptated to cinema. In three of them Matt Dillon is the leading actor. It´s a happenstance or it was your recomendation?

I recommended Matt for The Outsiders after I worked with him on Tex, but he still had to read for the part. Francis Coppola liked him very much and cast him in Rumble Fish, which we shot directly after The Outsiders.

You made cameos in some of these movies. How was your implication in them: did you work in the screenplay or the casting? I was very involved in three of my movies; Tex, The Outsiders, and Rumble Fish. I didn't do any writing on Tex, but Tim Hunter, the director (and still one of my best friends) wanted me on the set all the time. I helped with scouting locations, wardrobe, even gave Matt riding lessons. (My horse played the part of Tex's horse.) I did the same thing with The Outsiders, was very involved, but also I helped Francis write the screenplay. I co-wrote Rumble Fish with him, and didn't do much of anything else on that one. I was on the set every day for those three movies, at the request of the directors. What´s your opinion about these movies?

I think Tex and Rumble Fish are very, very good. Both directors had a vision of what they wanted the movie to be. The Outsiders is good, but Francis was trying to please the audience of the book--which is certainly not a bad thing, but I think artists best works are when they are trying to please their own vision.

Your last books (Hawkes Harbor, a novel for adults, and Some of Tim´stories, a recompilation of short stories) haven´t been published in Spain. Can you tell us something about them?

Hawkes Harbor is my first adult novel (and it is very adult, not recommenced for kids). It is the story of a man named Jamie Sommers, and how life educates him. It is filled with adventure (jewel smuggling, gun-running etc.) horror (you have to read to find out about that) and ultimately, like all my work, it is about relationships.

Some of Tim's stories is a collection of short stories, all dealing with the same characters. It is intended for adults, too, although older teens enjoy them. They contain my best writing yet. Also, the book has a series of interviews done with me, so if you want to know more about my writing, they would probably be interesting to you.

Are you working now in any other novel?

Right now I am working on a paranormal suspense comedy novel--pretty frivolous, but a lot of fun to write.

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