Monday, January 23, 2012

YAK Fest - Part 2 [Ellen Hopkins]

Part 1

[Note: Part 2 is chronological within itself, but is not when compared to Part 3.]

Over the past few months I have mentioned here or there in comments that I would be going to my first author signing soon. Ellen Hopkins would be coming within three hours of me. On Saturday, January 16th, I went to meet her at the Young Adult Keller (YAK) Book Festival.


A little late, we found the lecture hall where the Realistic Fiction session was being held and took our seats (after a slight scuffle over who was going to go in first). The five authors were sitting at a table in the front discussing swear words.

From left to right: Charles Benoit, Beth Fehlbaum, Kelly Milner Halls, Ellen Hopkins, and Lori Aurelia Williams

Mr. Benoit said that he did not use curse words in order to reach a wider audience (ie. Catholic schools). Someone, I believe Ms. Fehlbaum, spoke of a reviewer who counted the number of cuss words (77, including "crap") in her book. Ms. Hopkins expressed her opinion that swear words, especially the word "fuck," should be used only when needed, not to give a shock factor. She used an example from her novel Crank, where the main character says "Fuck you" to her mother. She remembered saying that to her own mom and how emotional it had been.

After the moderator (who sat next to Ms. Williams) asked a few more questions, the Q&A was opened to the audience. While I didn't have any questions myself, Jess did ("Do you think of your readers as you write?"). My mother was also very excited and interactive, asking not only questions on publishing (which I should have appreciated more) but for the authors of books that the panelists recommended. She even took notes.


Lizzie, my sister, and myself waiting in line for Ellen Hopkins.
We got in line around four o'clock. If you'll look at the picture to your left, you can see us, right there at the end (and surprisingly, very in the center, seeing as the YAK fest photographer randomly snapped this). And don't we just look close to the front! But you see those people behind us, and the people behind them? Yeah, they're all standing in the same line.

But I waited. Through a curve.

And a normal sized line.

And a curve.

And a normal sized line.

When we got to the front of the line, my mom showed Ms. Hopkins the copy of Campaigner Challenges 2011 she has on her Kindle (hence the first signature). Ms. Hopkins then asked me what I write. I think I muttered something along the lines of "Um, uh, a lot of things?" Luckily, my mother stepped in to save me.

Was it worth it? The three hour drive, the argument with my mother (again, I should have been more appreciative, I blame morning brain), the almost-hour in line, the embarrassment of freezing when talking to one of my favorite authors? I think it was.

Myself and Ellen Hopkins

More On Ellen Hopkins:

Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, and Triangles. Her novels are praised by teens and adults alike and she has been called the "bestselling living poet in the country" by She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada. Learn more about her and her books at

Part 3 coming soon.


  1. All those people remind me of DisneyLand only without the fun and all the rides.

    1. He, Angela Scott used a comparison very similar to this at the beginning of her blog post today:

      The waiting in line might not have been fun, but it didn't seem to take too terribly long and those signed books make me very happy. ^^

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you. ^^ At first I didn't think I would have enough room for them so I'm glad I found a creative way to implement them.

      I like how she made each say something different.

  3. Sounds like you have a wonderful time. Glad you were able to get your books signed. I agree, that was nice that each was something different.

    1. Come back on Friday and I'll have a few by different authors posted. ^^ Thanks for taking the time to read.

  4. Hey Brooke, sounds like you had a pretty amazing experience! I'd love to meet one of my favourite authors. Neil Gaiman came to Melbourne late last year but I missed out because it was the same night as our work Christmas function. :(

    1. I actually missed one of my Quizbowl meets because of this. Granted, I didn't know the meet was on the same time 'til a week before, but I still felt kind of bad for missing it, especially since it was our last one.

  5. I enjoyed Ellen Hopkins' "Crank" and was therefore intrigued by the premise for "Burned" about a girl raised in a sheltered religious environment who begins to question everything she has been taught. While Hopkins has a talent at writing verse-based novels that move along at an almost breakneck speed, I am not sure if the messages contained within the books are the best messages for her targeted audiences.

    "Burned" is narrated by Pattyn Von Stratten, the eldest of eight girls raised in a strict Mormon family. Her father (on his second marriage) is determined to have a boy and has hence named all of his daughters after great military generals. Her father is also a closet alcoholic and abusive to their mother, something that the entire community turns a blind eye to. Yet Pattyn cannot put up with it anymore and when she finds acceptance of a sort with a non-Mormon boy she finds herself in some deep trouble. In an effort to "cure" her of her questioning and disobedience, her father sends her to live with her aunt for the summer, the sister that he cannot stand. Instead of being a punishment, this is the best place for Pattyn to be, for she learns what being loved is all about and how women need not be subservient to men in order to fulfill their ordained role in life. It is also while at her aunt's that Pattyn falls in love for the first time, setting in motion a course of events that drives the story to its tumultuous ending.

    1. Yes, I know all about Burned. I've read all her books.

      I would have to disagree with you about her messages. Perhaps they are too strong for certain teenagers, but Hopkins' biggest targeted audience for each book are the people who have gone through what the book is talking about. And for them, that is well-needed.