Ellen Hopkins has always had a way with words ever since she was young. At nine years old, one of the poems she wrote was published in a local paper. Raised in California, Hopkins attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied journalism. However, she didn’t finish her degree, opting out to start a family and a business.
Several years later, Hopkins’s first marriage failed, so she sold their video store business and started working freelance. By this time, she already had two children. Shortly after her divorce, she had another daughter with an abusive man. He kidnapped her youngest daughter and kept her away for three years. In 1991, she married her current husband, John Hopkins. They moved to Nevada, where Hopkins decided to write for a living. At first, she wrote for newspapers and magazines, and then she started writing children’s nonfiction.
Hopkins eventually moved on to writing fiction for teens. She wrote the Crank trilogy, a series of verse novels tackling teenage issues such as addiction, prostitution, and mental illness. Crank is about a straight-A student named Kristina who meets a boy named Adam. Kristina is later convinced by Adam to try drugs, specifically crystal meth. The novel was based on her daughter’s experience with drugs. Crank has become a required reading book for several high schools and many drug programs. Ironically, the book is also one of the most challenged of 2010 because of its content. Other than her young adult novels, Hopkins also created three adult novels, Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath.
In an interview, she revealed that she writes novels in verse because it reflects characters’ thoughts. She founded Ventana Sierra in Nevada, a nonprofit organization that provides youth housing and resources. For her novels, Hopkins has been awarded a Silver Pen Award for emerging writers in Nevada and a place in the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.
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