YA author Ellen Hopkins first started conceptualizing her new book "Rumble" — for which we have the exclusive cover reveal — after a fan called her out on Facebook.
"I'm a Lutheran with spiritual leanings, and there were some mosque burnings in the news," she told MTV News. "I posted on my Facebook page, 'We all serve one creator,' meaning Jews, Muslims, Christians, people are agnostic. That's how I feel. And this girl who was 16 came back at me and she said, 'It's awfully arrogant of you to assume that I need to have a belief in anything.'"
The statement fascinated Hopkins, who recalled her own teenage years as being an explorative time in which big questions were asked rather than answered.
"The story grew out of that," she said. "The conflict is that the atheist falls in love with the Evangelical Christian girl, but the driving conflict is that some of his friends actually bullied his little brother into suicide."
Matthew Turner, the aforementioned atheist, decides to live with abandon after his brother's death, only to be awoken by a mysterious "rumble" that Hopkins described cryptically as "something that he hears that makes things make sense to him."
"His big thing is that he bears some guilt," she added. "He could have come home earlier to save his brother, but he was with his girlfriend and by the time he got home his brother had done it. So how do you find forgiveness that you really, really need when that person is gone? So the rumble is around that. The way he finds forgiveness."
Hopkins often draws from her own life experience when crafting stories — her bestselling book "Crank" is about her daughter's addiction to crystal meth. "Rumble" is no different; it draws from her sons' experiences being bullied in school, as well as anti-bullying programs for which she volunteers.
"I want to look at the 'why,'" Hopkins said. "Why some kids choose to commit suicide who are bullied and others don't."
"Rumble" comes out on August 26. In the meantime, take a look at the striking cover exclusively on MTV News.