“One of the things that makes the movies work is that the boys were very close to the same age as the characters,” she noted. Nowadays, they “would be casting [adults] to play these little kids.”
Hinton was herself a high-school student when she began writing “The Outsiders.” The novel, she told me, grew out of her dissatisfaction with the way teen-age life was being portrayed in the books she read. “There was only a handful of books having teen-age protagonists: Mary Jane wants to go to the prom with the football hero and ends up with the boy next door and has a good time anyway. That didn’t ring true to my life. I was surrounded by teens and I couldn’t see anything going on in those books that had anything to do with real life.” She remembers drawing inspiration from an eclectic range of titles, including “Gone with the Wind,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Great Expectations,” Will James’s cowboy books, and the science-fiction stories of Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury.