That Was Then, This is Now

That Was Then, This is Now Study Guide

That was Then, This is Now was published in 1971. Its title is derived from one of the pivotal lines of the book. It is set in the same world as The Outsiders, which was published 4 years before it in 1967, and even features a brief overlap of characters. Rumble Fish, published 4 years after That was Then, This is Now, in 1975, also takes place in the same universe. Hinton says that she wrote this book based on a friendship, and because she wanted to go out. In an afterword, the author gives a lot of information about the process of creating this book. Hinton wrote most of this book while she was a college student at the University of Oklahoma. She was very seriously dating her boyfriend and “in love,” and also busy with studying. During this time she also suffered from extreme writer’s block. Some of this writer’s blocked stemmed from her success with The Outsiders—she says she “felt like there were people peering over my shoulder, whispering ‘What is she going to do next?’ The thought of it paralyzed me. It was very depressing.” Finally, her boyfriend (her eventual husband) told her to write two pages a day, and would not take her out until she had fulfilled her quota. Although That was Then, This is Now is about a friendship Hinton once had, the central of the message was crystallized for her when she came across the John Updike quote: “Growth is betrayal.” Hinton received her contracts for this book on her wedding day.