Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I just read The Outsiders in school, and I couldnt get over the
names. why was there such vivid names? (Question submitted by Theo)
A: I do remember at that age everyone
wishing they were named something else, probably part of establishing an
idenity other than the one your parents have for you.
The strange names seemed to fit the characters, though, so I left them.
Q: Was it hard to come up with such a fantastic plot for
"The Outsiders?" (Question submitted by Cassie)
A: I don't know how "fantastic" the Outsiders plot is--plotting
is always the hardest part for me. I basically just made it up as I went
along (for instance, I didn't think of buring the church until I was right
there in the story.) My strong points are characters and dialog--I wish I
could come up with more plots!
Q Will u ever write anything about your life in junior high or
even younger? (Question submitted by Jannie)
A: I really don't know. I never know when or what idea for a
story will hit me.
Q: Why do you only use your last name instead of your full name? (Question submitted by Jason)
A: I use my intials instead of my first name because the
pulishers were afraid the first reviewers would assume a girl couldn't
write a book like the Outsiders. After that, I found liked the privacy of
having a "public" name and a private one, so it has worked out fine.
Q: Why don't you make public appearances? (Question submitted by Andy)
A: I no longer make public appearances because I don't like to
travel, I don't like speaking in public, it got too crazy and after 30
years of it I no longer feel like I do a good job at it. Anyway, it is
always the book that's important, not the writer. The message, not the
Q: What book did you like writing the best? (Question submitted by Andy)
A: I really enjoyed writing the Outsiders the most--I wasn't
thinking about getting it published or what reviewers would think, I just
was totally involved in the story. It's hard to do that when it is your
Q: Why are all of your main characters male? (Question submitted by Jennifer)
A: I started using male characters just because it was easiest was a
tomboy, most of my close friends were boys, and I figured nobody would believe a girl would
know anything about my subject matter. I have kept on using male characters because
(1) boys have fewer books written for them (2) girls will read boys' books, boys
usually won't read girls', and (3) it is still the easiest for me. My elementary age book, The
Puppy Sister, is told from a female point of view. Female puppy, that is, if that counts.
Q: Are any of your stories, other than Taming The Star-Runner, about your
own life experiences, or do you just have a really great perspective on life? (Question submitted by Jennifer)
A: Actually, although I ride, and a few of the things that happen to
Travis when he sells his first book, happened to me (I was home alone with my cat when the
phone call came) Taming The Star-Runner really isn't about my life experiences. Sometimes things from real life inspire me--the social situation in
my high school inspired a great deal of The Outsiders, but the book itself is fictional. Many
times I don't realize where I got an idea for a book until years after it is written! The closest
one to my real life is my picture book, Big David, Little David, which is almost true word for
Q: How did you first get the idea to write The Outsiders? (Question by Elise)
A: I wrote The Outsiders because I (1) like to write (2)was mad about the social
situtation in my high school where everyone got in their little group and
wouldn't make friends outside it and
(3) I wanted to read it. There was no realistic fiction being written about
teen-agers when I was in high school--everything was "Mary-Jane Goes to The
Q: What did you want reader's to get out of your book when you started writing
them? (Question by Elise)
A: I hate to say this, but when I start writing I just don't think of the
reader. I think of the characters, what will happen to them, I want to please
myself (I'm a pretty good critic) but
I don't think about readers until the book is published. Naturally, then I hope
they like it.
Q: What was it like to get your book published at such an early age?
(Question by Elise)
A: It was very exciting to get my book published--but it's very exciting at any age!
Q:Do you think you will ever write a sequel to "The Outsiders"? (Question by Elise)
A: No, never.