S.E. Hinton’s “Outsiders”There’s a great interview with Susan E. Hinton – better known as S.E. Hinton – on CNN.com, celebrating a new 40th-anniversary edition of her first and most famous book, The Outsiders, that’s been released recently. She started writing the book when she was fifteen, she says, because she couldn’t find any books with characters like her and her friends – teenagers with their worries and struggles, who were growing up not in New York City or in Britain, but in Tulsa, OK. It’s now considered one of the dozen or so books from the years between 1966 and 1972 that established the YA genre.

In those days, books that described modern life in “flyover country” were hard to find, and Hinton felt that Holden Caulfield simply needed a “good spanking.” (I remember feeling the same way when I read Catcher in the Rye in the LA suburbs around that time.) Her editor at Viking suggested that she take the name S.E. Hinton so that boys wouldn’t be turned off by reading a book with a female author.