Last month, Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones visited the Mission Viejo Library. They are two of my favorite authors so I was extremely excited to get to meet them. The event was held in the library’s Heritage Room and was very cozy. Several comfortable chairs were arranged around the room in a circle with Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones seated in the front. The night began with Sonya doing a spin to show off her skirt and then brief introductions.
Once introductions were taken care of, both authors read the beginnings of their new novels, Smoke and To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story, respectively. Both did an excellent job reading and really created an engaging experience. I had already read Smoke at the time of the event but hearing Ellen Hopkins read it out loud made me want to read it again. Sonya Sones really drew me into her story as well and I am looking forward to reading it.
Once the readings were done they spoke about book banning and also why they write. Both of them emphasized that while they never set out to write a book that would get challenged or even banned. However, they take the fact that they did get challenged as a bit of a compliment. Sonya Sones had an interesting viewpoint on the whole matter when she brought up that her books are on lists that include books by authors like John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway; when else is that going to happen? They view the banning of their books as something that shows that people are thinking about issues which they may not want to face, which is something they view positively. Both of the authors shared stories about getting letters from people who had read their books and really been touched by what they read.
The first portion of the night ended with a question and answer session. Some topics discussed were: the fact that the Crank trilogy was based on true experiences of Ellen Hopkins’s daughter; some memorable encounters with fans, Sonya once saw a kid reading one of her books in a store and had to prove to them she really wrote it, Ellen one sat next to a girl on a plane reading one of her books; and their view on book bannings.
The night ended with a chance to get books singed, buy books, and take pictures with them. They were both extremely kind and Ellen Hopkins even put up with signing seven of my books. Overall it was a great experience to get to meet two of my favorite authors and even get some books signed, not to mention getting my picture taken with them!
-Angela J., 12th grade