Hopkins began her writing career with a number of nonfiction books for children, including Air Devils and Orcas: High Seas Supermen. She has written 20 such non-fiction books.
Hopkins had a daughter who became addicted to crystal meth, or "crank." In 2002, her struggle inspired Hopkins to begin writing her debut novel, Crank, meant to express the horrible influences of drug abuse and addiction. Hopkins has since published several verse novels on teenage struggles, including Burned, Impulse, Identical, Glass, Tricks, and Fallout. Glass is the sequel to Crank. Identical came out on August 26, 2008, and Tricks, about teen prostitution, on August 25, 2009. On September 14, 2010, Fallout, the third and final book in the Crank series was released. Perfect, is due out in 2011 and is a companion novel to Impulse. There are also plans on releasing the sequel to Burned, Smoke, in 2013.
She loves her home state and her adoptive parents. Later in life, she found her biological mother, Toni Chandler, who was a writer and poet. Hopkins believes most of her writing talent originates from her. She also considers her fifth grade teacher to be the first person to encourage her to become a professional writer forever.
Hopkins was adopted by Al and Val Weiner when they were 72 and 42, respectively. Her first poem was published in the Palm Springs Desert Sun when she was nine. She attended high school in Santa Ynez Valley and went on to study journalism at the University of California, Santa Barbara before dropping out to start a family and a business. When her marriage failed, she sold her business and began freelance work. She then married John Hopkins, her current husband, and they have three children Cristal, Kelly and Jason. They also adopted another child, Cristal's son, Orion.