ATR: Starting off, your books are unique because they are written in verse. Do you think that this gains or loses potential readers? What was it that first inspired you to write in verse?
EH: I think it works both ways. The verse appeals to readers who don't like thick blocks of text, but other readers like it, too, at least once they get used to it. People who have decided they hate anything that even resembles poetry are probably turned off by it. Again, though, if they'd just dive in and read my books for STORY, I think they'd like them.
ATR: Of all of your books, which was your favorite to write? Which was the hardest to write?
EH: My favorite to write was probably IDENTICAL, because of the plot twists and reflections on what is alike/not alike about twins. The hardest was probably GLASS, because it recounts the deepest part of "Kristina's" addiction, and was very hard to relive.
ATR: Lately, I have noticed that you have been planning more books than ever. I mean, Perfect, Triangles, Tilt, Collateral, and Smoke (Although I’m not positive that last one is confirmed.) What has to be done before you can let the public know that you are writing a new book?
EH: At this point in my career, content is pretty much up to me. So once I'm sure in my own mind of what I'm writing when, I let people know. And, yes, SMOKE (the sequel to BURNED) is slated to be the 2013 YA.
ATR: You have said on your website that you never planned for your books to have sequels when you were writing them. At what point do you decide that a sequel would work for a certain book?
EH: Usually it's when I get so many requests for more of a story that I just can't NOT do a sequel. I won't, however, be doing any more CRANK books. I feel like I've exhausted Kristina's story, or maybe just exhausted myself from writing it.
ATR: I found it really cool how, in Perfect, the characters run into Connor and we get to see the meeting that we saw in Impulse from a different point of view. What I wondered while reading this was, how often did you have to refer to Impulse while outlining/writing Perfect to make the confrontations exact?
EH: Oh, many times, all the way through. My editor was really great about referencing IMPULSE, too, and she picked up something that most readers probably wouldn't have, but we wanted it right. Namely, I mentioned President Obama in PERFECT and she pointed out that he wasn't president, or even on most people's radar, when IMPULSE published in January 2007. IMPULSE has definite references to things like the Patriot Act, which date it fairly solidly in the George W. Bush era.
ATR: This week, you will release your first adult book, Triangles . After writing such highly praised YA books, do you worry that it will be hard to get adult’s approval?
EH: Well, a lot of my readers have "grown up" with my books, so to speak. Someone who was 16 or 17 when CRANK published in 2004 is in his/her twenties now. And they've shared my books with other adults--parents, teachers, etc. So to a point I have a built-in adult readership. I'm hopeful that bloggers will help me grow that readership even more.
ATR: What would you say if a teen asked you if they should read Triangles ?
EH: I'd say it depends on the maturity level of the teen. When I was a teen, we didn't have much YA to speak of, and I was definitely reading books with mature subject matter--as mature as what you'll find in TRIANGLES. It didn't damage me! But there are definitely some very steamy sex scenes in TRIANGLES. If a teen is mature enough to handle those, I think the story, even with adult protagonists, will interest him/her.
ATR: Tilt is your upcoming YA companion novel to Triangles . How are the two novels related to each other?
EH: The three main characters in TRIANGLES have teens, and these kids have stories of their own. The books begin at the same time, but TILT moves quite a bit past where TRIANGLES leaves off and, at the heart, is about how a death in both books affects the three TILT protagonists, making them assess their own lives. It touches on falling in love with someone with HIV, teen pregnancy, and losing oneself in an abusive and unproductive relationship.
ATR: What words would you give to young aspiring writers?
EH: Read voraciously, and write the same way. Be observers--no, voyeurs. And be patient. Every day enrichens your life, and also your writing.
ATR: If you could go anywhere on the planet, where would you go?
EH: That's a hard question, because I've been many beautiful places, and would like to return to them. But I'd also like to see someplace I've never seen. Maybe Costa Rica, which is on my Bucket List.
ATR: Do you ever take a break? What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
EH: When I'm home (as opposed to many travel days, doing promotion, conferences, etc.), I take many small breaks during each day to enjoy my beautiful home and spend time with family and friends. We also ski, hike, bike, etc.
ATR: How long, on average, do you write in a day?
EH: Good days for me, and there are many, include six to eight hours writing. But even when I'm busy with other stuff, I try to write at least an hour or two every day.
ATR: I’ll leave you with this question: if you could describe happiness in five words, what would they be?
EH: Home. Family. Friends. German Shepherds.
Thank you, Ellen, for agreeing to do an interview with me. I wish you luck with your writing career, and I can't wait to read your future books!
Ellen's Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_tc_2_0?rh=i%3Astripbooks%2Ck%3AEllen+Hopkins&keywords=Ellen+Hopkins&ie=UTF8&qid=1318725591&sr=8-2-ent&field-contributor_id=B001H6OOSA
Ellen's Website: http://www.ellenhopkins.com/