says to s.e. hinton, “you and mark twain got me interested in writing.”
now as you can see in this picture, im the biggest dork in america.
probably the world.
but when he said that i thought to myself, damn straight.
although when i was up there i couldnt even look at her in the eyes. i didnt watch her autograph my books. i dont even know what i was looking at.
completely starstruck like i havent been in quite some while.
i said to her, like that man said, you also inspired me to write, but i would say it was you and jd salinger.
and i asked her a lot of things, my friends.
for if you dont own your dorkiness, you will never be able to revel in the dorky rewards, like asking crazy questions to your first favorite author
a woman who while flunking out of her junior year high school creative writing class, busts with the beginings of The Outsiders, finishes it at 16, and gets published at 17
all while never leaving tulsa, oklahoma.
then reels off three more novels (that was then, this is now; rumble fish; tex) so good that they all get made into movies, two of which were directed by francis ford coppola who asked her advice while they filmed the movies.
this was the cast of The Outsiders:
Dallas Winston – Matt Dillon
Johnny Cade – Ralph Macchio
Ponyboy Curtis – C. Thomas Howell
Darrel Curtis – Patrick Swayze
Sodapop Curtis – Rob Lowe
Two-Bit Mathews – Emilio Estevez
Steve Randle – Tom Cruise
Cherry Valance – Diane Lane
Bob Sheldon – Leif Garrett
this was the cast of Rumble Fish
Rusty-James – Matt Dillon
Motorcycle Boy – Mickey Rourke
Patty – Diane Lane
Father – Dennis Hopper
Steve – Vincent Spano
Smokey – Nicolas Cage
B.J. – Christopher Penn
Benny – Tom Waits
when i got there i overheard her conversation with the book store manager.
mgr: do you have any questions before we begin?
se: do i have to read?
mgr: not if you don’t want to.
se: i would like to talk.
mgr: great, then talk.
se: oh you’ll have to shut me up. i can talk all night.
she was so nice. maybe thirty people in attendence, with a generous dose of school kids from 10yrs old to high school. parents with their kids. a few random creepy dudes like me.
and then the girl in front of me.
she was a nice asian girl who was talking to the guy ahead of me until she turned around and asked me out of the blue, “when did you read the outsiders?”
nobody, by the way, cared too much about ms. hinton’s new book, hawkes something, which is probably a perfectly good book, but the topic tonight was The Outsiders, which got so much attention i sort of felt sorry for her, but i think she understood, she answered all the questions happilly, like someone who finally wanted to set the record straight.
i told the girl, i dont know, when i was in junior high. so like 13, 14? and then i asked, how about you?
and she said smiling so brightly, yes, me too. last year.
her dad was in the next aisle staking out a good spot to take a picture of his daughter with the famous author.
he had gone to the shelves and retreived every book se had written except for the two childrens books.
and when the young girl approached the table she giggled nervously and said, sorry, and nudged the healthy stack and se geniunely said, no problem, and even signed the computer printout of the original Outsiders movie poster.
the month of libra swooped in on all of us. peace and love was in the air and i couldnt stop stuttering or smiling or beaming.
and i have studied twain.
i took two semesters at santa monica college, one at ucsb arts n lectures, and one at ucsb college of creative studies.
in my life, this woman was definately on par with twain, as far as influence. because it was her books that gave me something to identify with that no other book before it ever did.
in her q & a she talked about how she starts with the characters first. like, no brainer. like that one of her characters in her new book is a gemini on the capricorn cusp
“he likes to travel, but once he gets to where he loves, he will stay.”
one kid asked her if she liked a particular web site where people can write sequels or prequels or short stories based around their favorite books
and se lit up and knew about the web site, said she loved it, and said how great it was that the outsiders had over 900 different stories posted on that site.
the kids said, is it true that this one character from this one novel makes an appearance in this other novel, but with a different name?
and she said yes, and gave the names.
and another kid said why did you have that other character from the one novel get in that other novel.
and she said, she wanted people to know that it was all taking place in the same town, so she gave him “a walk on.”
seriously prepared kids. i was impressed.
and when i got home i was so on top of the world that i sang a little song for a dirty girl across town.
which reminds me of the best part of the whole night.
se hinton raised up her new book, and said, this is not a kids book. if you’re a kid i want your parents to read it first. i dont need any trouble.
and when i was able to ask her one final question i said
do you do these things very often?
and she said, hardly ever.
and i said, well thank you so much for doing it tonight.
but i did not shake her hand, which was the only thing i wanted to do
i wanted to touch a real writers hands.