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S.J. Hooks

Author of:

Absolute Beginners 

Rad-Reader:  Which character did you come up with first?  Julia or Stephen?

S.J.:  Stephen

Rad-Reader:  I liked in the first book you said there would be a second book.  Did you know this when you started writing or did the story lead you to two books?

S.J.:  I actually had a serialized, somewhat different version of this up online for a long time before I decided to try publishing it. It was more than 700 pages long, which is why we ended up making it into two books.

Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with the bar scene in “Booty?

S.J.:  This is a romanic comedy at heart and frankly, I thought it would be hilarious to throw the three guys into that kind of environment and see what happened.

Rad-Reader:  The character Shawn, was he planned or did you come up with him later in the story?

S.J.:  He was planned. I knew I wanted a friend for Stephen who could balance out some of his brother’s crudeness. Someone who was very laid back about his sexuality and at the same time a romantic at heart.

Rad-Reader:  Did you come up with the look of Julia and Stephen before you started writing about them or during?

S.J.:  Julia’s look was very clear in my mind, probably because I dressed a bit like her in my younger, more rebellious days.
Stephen took a bit more work. I wanted him to dress the part of a fashion challenged academic, but at the same time not overshadow the fact that he was basically very good-looking underneath the ill-fitting clothing and combed-over hair.

Rad-Reader:  Was Stephen’s brother planned from the beginning to be the opposite of him or was he added later to help the story?

S.J.:  He was definitely planned. I wanted him to be the exact opposite. A carefree person, who probably didn’t think too much about his actions, whereas Stephen tended to overthink everything. None of them are truly happy, though, as it turns out, and I think both are able to find that as one becomes more outgoing and the other slows down a bit. Stephen never would have gone to a bar, if his brother hadn’t brought him there and that’s where he meets Julia. If they’d never met outside of class, nothing would have happened between them. Stephen was much too shut down emotionally to have done anything about his attraction to her, unless Julia had taken the reins completely at first. Matt sees his brother fall in love and realizes that he wants the same, although that’s all between the lines, since this is Stephen and Julia’s story. A few readers have asked if I’d ever consider writing Matt and Megan’s story, to find out how they reach their happily ever after. It’s worth thinking about, for sure. J

Rad-Reader:  When you were writing the story did you originally have them breakup or did that just happen?

S.J.:  That actually happened without my planning it beforehand. Sometimes, the characters take over and they take the story in an unexpected direction. I always knew they’d end up together, though.

Rad-Reader:  What is your process for writing?  Like do you make an outline?

S.J.:  I make a very vague outline, a beginning and an end. How the characters actually get there, is not planned out in advance.

Rad-Reader:  Was it difficult to get a publishing company to look at your book?

S.J.:  No, I was extremely lucky. They contacted me, having read my story online and were interested in publishing it. All I had to do was say ‘yes’, basically.

Rad-Reader:  If so, did you have both books done or did they ask for a second book right away?

S.J.:  The story was already complete at the time. I added a lot of new things to the published version and went through a long editing process.

Rad-Reader:  The storyline with her grandfather really made her character touched base with me since my grandmother passed from that (not wanting to give it away.) Was this also from your life?

S.J.:  Thankfully, I’ve never experienced this with a loved one myself, but I have a background in care for the elderly, having worked in a nursing home for a couple of years, so I’ve seen it first hand in the people I cared for.
Rad-Reader:  That night when she goes to Stephen’s house, really changes things for both of them, when in writing do you decide to put that much emotion in both characters or does it just happen?

S.J.:  That was one of the scenes that popped into my head before I ever started writing the story, and I knew it was a pivotal moment for them as a couple, so I tried to make it as impactful as possible.

Rad-Readers:  Was it your plan to have a serious moment, like after her grandfather passed and then the next morning his parents walk into his condo?

S.J.:  I always planned on Julia meeting his parents like that. Even though the circumstances weren’t ideal, it showed how Stephen was more than willing to stand up for Julia and assert himself, protecting his brand-new relationship. Also, I think it was funny. ;)

Rad-Reader:  What was your inspiration for this story?

S.J.:  I’ve always enjoyed reading stories featuring Alpha males, but I also felt like there was a lack of sweet, sensitive male leads in the Romance genre. I’m the world of academia myself and most of the men I encounter there are often shy and bookish, but at the same time funny, loyal and kind. They deserve recognition too, and are in my opinion underrepresented in modern Romance literature. So I wanted to explore a different type of masculinity, one that isn’t centered on being physically strong or having a lot of money and power.

Rad-Reader:  How long did it take you to come up with the storyline and dialogue at the 4th of July party?

S.J.:  I knew I wanted Stephen to confront his past and see it for what it really was. He had changed so much at that point and with Julia by his side, he was ready for it. When I write scenes like that, it’s like watching a movie inside my head, and all I have to do is put it down on paper as best I can. Don’t ask me where it comes from, because I honestly have no idea. I guess I’ve always had a vivid imagination.

Rad-Reader:  Having Julia go to England for the scholarship was huge in their relationship.  Was that planned or did that just come while you were writing?

S.J.:  I actually don’t think I planned that beforehand, but as the story progressed I realized that I wanted Stephen to gain some of the experiences that he had denied himself in the past, because he was too scared to pursue them. Julia had always had a passion for travel, and it seemed like something she’d do, apply for scholarships abroad. I knew the only way I’d get Stephen to take such a chance was if it was to go after the woman he loves.

Rad-Reader:  One of the best parts for me was when he was reading to her over the computer.  How did that come to you to put that in the story?

S.J.:  I love reading, generally speaking, and that’s what I’d want a man to do for me in that particular situation.

Rad-Reader:  Seeing the growth in Stephen from the beginning of the story towards the end was huge, because he would not have done some of the things he did at the end.  Was that planned?

S.J.:  I think the whole story was about him becoming the man he always wanted to be, someone confident, loving and unafraid of seizing the opportunities in life.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you have play:

Julia:  Elizabeth Gillies

Stephen:  Eric Mabius

Matt:  Robbie Amell

Sophia:  Bianca Santos

Megan:  Molly Quinn

Shawn:  Jai Courtney


Julia:  Emily Browning    

Stephen:  Matt Bomer

Matt:  Chris Evans

Sophia:  Yes, Bianca Santos is perfect, I agree!

Megan:  Deborah Ann Woll

Shawn:  Garrett Hedlund

Rad-Reader:  If you had to pick a song that would be your theme song what would it be?
Rad-Reader: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

S.J.:  I named the book after David Bowie’s “Absolute Beginners”, so I’d have to go with that one. :)

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?

S.J.:  They’re available in Full Fathom Five’s online store: http://store.fullfathomfive.com as well as Amazon, iBooks and Kobo. The paperback of both books, The Absolute Novels, is actually coming out on August 12th, so that’s very exciting.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you and keep up with you such as a website?

S.J.:  I have a Facebook page SJ Hooks, Author, as well as a website at: sjhooks.com.
Thanks for having me! It’s been a pleasure.  SJ

Dear S.J.      I really liked both books.  This story was fabulous and I normally don't read these books.  I am a history and biography buff.  But I got caught up in these books.  The characters I liked very much.  
     My favorite characters were Stephan and Julie.  They each became a part of each other which made for a stronger unit.  They were so fearful as individuals that as two working units coming together to work as a team WOW!
     I personally want to thank you for agreeing to do this review and answering some of my burning questions.  Who knew I could be a "Fanboy" I hear my wife talk about.  But this dealt with so many issues that I have personally gone through over the past several years that it just gripped me.  I enjoyed your style of writing and hope to read more of what you have coming in the future.
     My husband was so impacted by your books and talked so highly about your style of writing and your characters that we would talk after each passage when he would stop to go do something that I feel like I know your characters too.
So, on behalf of our readers thank you so much for being here and So Sorry To Tell You This...You are now part of the 1 Rad-Reader Review Family.  Now you should be afraid.  Hahaha! :)   Thanks Again,
Pat & Char 



  1. LOL! Proud to be an honorary member of your family. Thank you for the great interview and reviews!


    1. As of today you have had over 218 hits on your interview. Wow!!! Thanks again :)


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