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Whatever Happened To S.E. Hinton After The Outsiders' Success?

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Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Two-Bit. They're names that are familiar to book lovers and movie buffs alike. Each name belongs to a memorable character in S.E. Hinton's 1967 novel "The Outsiders," which would later captivate moviegoers in 1983.

The film and the book follow a deadly clash between two rival groups: the greasers and the "Socs." In the aftermath, Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio) and Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) have no other choice but to run away and live in an abandoned church until their friend and fellow greaser Dallas Winston (Matt Dillon) gives them the all clear. But plans change when the church catches fire, trapping a group of children inside. Their rescue turns Ponyboy, Dallas, and Johnny into heroes but leaves Johnny badly injured. It is then up to the rest of the gang to have a standoff with the Socs, settling the score once and for all.

The film boasts a cast full of 1980s heartthrobs, including Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Tom Cruise. Meanwhile, the story itself has made history, with the American Library Association noting, "The novel [is] commonly considered the first proper young-adult novel." And although "The Outsiders" already made Hinton a fixture in literature, she is still writing and working to reach audiences of different ages.

Hinton got writer's block after The Outsiders was published

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, S.E. Hinton said her success with "The Outsiders" was slow at first, recalling that her first royalty check was for the sum of $10. And while she had written two novels before "The Outsiders," she got writer's block for four years following her acclaimed novel, adding that she felt overwhelmed by the sheer fact that she had an audience for her book.

"My husband, bless his heart, he was my boyfriend at the time. He said, 'You've got to get over this. ... Just write two pages a day. Nobody ever died of two pages.' Which is spoken like a true non-writer. But he'd come over to take me out, and if I hadn't done two pages, he'd just start reading the newspaper. So that was my big motive for my second book — I wanted to go out," Hinton shared.

Her second novel, "That Was Then, This Is Now," is a companion to "The Outsiders" and was published in 1971. Hinton went on to write other books for young adults, including "Rumble Fish" and "Tex." And while she has made a name for herself in young adult literature, she has also been writing books for younger audiences, including the children's book "The Puppy Sister," which was released in 1995.

Hinton enjoys spending time on movie and TV sets

While S.E. Hinton has brought plenty of fascinating stories to the page, she also enjoys working on the big and small screens, even showcasing her acting skills from time to time. She is a big fan of the hit CW series "Supernatural" and made a quick cameo in the series as a customer at a diner in Season 7, Episode 6, "Slash Fiction." She's even had on-screen roles in movies based on her books, including Mrs. Barnes in "Tex" and a nurse in "The Outsiders."

She also enjoys working behind the camera. In an interview with the A.V. Club, Hinton revealed that she and "The Outsiders" director Francis Ford Coppola wrote the film's screenplay. "He came to Tulsa, and I showed him around to different locations, the neighborhoods and stuff like that, and he said, 'Oh, I love this. We're going to shoot it here, and you can help me with everything,'" she recalled.

Hinton still revisits The Outsiders and talks to the film's cast members

It's been 40 years since the big-screen release of "The Outsiders," and S.E. Hinton continues to keep in touch with its cast members. The author shared a photo of herself and Matt Dillon on Twitter in March 2022. She was also seen onstage with Ralph Macchio in October 2022, helping the actor promote his memoir, "Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me" (via Tulsa World). To help celebrate the book's 50th anniversary in 2017, Hinton and Rob Lowe visited the house where "The Outsiders" was filmed (via Fox23 News Tulsa).

The book and the film continue to stay gold. In October 2022, Hinton posted a tweet praising a new book called "The Outsiders Rare and Unseen," which features never-before-seen set photos. "It is beautiful and seeing all the little notes from my boys brought tears to my eyes," she wrote.