Ellen Hopkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, and Fallout. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband and son. Every day her Facebook page gets messages from teens claiming that she "is the only one who understands them." She's been an inspiring force in writing on subjects that tend to be rougher than most: rape, drug addiction, et cetera yet her writing draws you in to be a part of the story. Ellen has been in the news lately for being uninvited to a Teen Book Festival in Humble, TX but that didn't stop her. Many authors, bloggers, and readers came to her and showed support through this and even the other authors that were invited to the festival cordially declined their invitations. The festival was cancelled soon after. Ellen has stood up against censorship and I was honored when she said she would write this for me.
I can think of no other perfect way of opening up Banned Books Week than with Ellen. Here is here post on censorship:
There's an old joke writers sometimes repeat about wanting their books banned because it's good for sales. I can't really argue with that. Every time I've faced a challenge and it has gone public, my sales have spiked. Last year when I was uninvited to do a school visit in Norman, OK (a large suburb of Oklahoma City), you couldn't find my books in stores for more than three months because every time they came in, they were snapped up. But censorship isn't funny. And when your books are challenged and you decide to fight, it's stressful. Tiring. And sometimes the fight gets downright dirty.
I'm sure I've only heard about a small percentage of the challenges to my books. Sometimes a librarian will write me, asking for ammunition to keep them on the shelves. I keep a file of reader messages, telling me how my books have turned them off a bad path, given them much needed insight, or even "literally saved my life." It's hard to argue with those. And yet, people do. Mostly because of bad language, or sexual content. Look, I'm writing real life. Young people sometimes use bad words. And teens are having sex or thinking about sex or having sex forced on them. The fact is, sex is an integral part of real life. It's better when love is attached to it, something I hope my books illustrate. But pretending there is no such thing for teens is not only ignorant. It's dangerous.
No book is right for everyone. If it's not right for you, close it. If you don't think it's right for your kids, close it. But you do not have the right to close it for everyone, because it's most definitely right for someone. My books are not only right for many people, they're necessary. If you don't believe it, I've got a file of messages I can send you. But they'd probably make you cry.
Thank you so much for writing this for me, Ellen. And thank you for standing up and speaking out for banned books! Let Ellen know what you think in the comments and I'll email them to her!