Meet Jude Hopkins, author of Babe in the Woods

Please give a warm welcome to Jude Hopkins, the author of Babe in the Woods, her latest women’s fiction piece. Today you can get a sneak peek inside with an excerpt and then enjoy a Q&A with her. Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments section! Download your own copy and then follow the tour for even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

It’s September 1995, the first year of the rest of Hadley Todd’s life. After living in Los Angeles, Hadley returns to her hometown in rural New York to write and be near her father. In addition to looking after him and teaching high school malcontents, Hadley hopes to channel her recent L.A. heartbreak into a play about the last moment of a woman’s innocence. But she seeks inspiration.

Enter Trey Harding, a young, handsome reporter who covers sports at the high school. Trey reminds Hadley of her L.A. ex and is the perfect spark to fire up her imagination. The fact that Trey is an aspiring rock star and she has L.A. record biz connections makes the alliance perfect. She dangles promises of music biz glory while watching his moves. But the surprising twist that transpires when the two of them go to Hollywood is not something Hadley prepared for.

Read an excerpt:

Trey was twirling the end of a white stick in his mouth. With a loud slurping sound, he pulled from his mouth a bright red lollipop before sticking out his tongue, which now matched the color of his shirt.  

“Fire your secretary,” he said, tapping his watch. “May I come in?”

She let him in, the shame of her unkempt apartment equaled only by the shame of her own disheveled appearance. 

He stood close to her. “I have to say, you are much more attractive without all that make-up.” He talked with the lollipop stuck in his cheek. “Definitely younger.”

It was an approach she remembered from her time with Derek. First you surprise them, then compliment them when they’re at their most vulnerable. She made a mental note.

He walked toward the nearest chair, sat down, but quickly jumped up again, fishing in his pockets. “Where are my manners? Here.” He extended a lollipop, grape flavor, her favorite. 

“No thanks.” It wasn’t even on the level of the apple Neil had given her on the first day of school. Besides, what was with men and their semiotics anyway? Perhaps it beat communicating with words. And how in the world would he have known grape was her favorite flavor? Was she that transparent? Was there a grape “type” as opposed to an orange or cherry type? The grape type would be moody and dark. The orange type would be young, perky, sassy. The cherry type? Passionate, desirable. Like him.

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Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.

Thirty-five-year-old Hadley returns to her rural hometown, fresh from heartbreak in L.A., to write a play about a woman’s last moment of innocence, but when a hot, young wannabe rock-star she uses as fodder outsmarts her, she needs to decide if innocence is more important than believing in herself. 

What was one of your favorite scenes?

Certainly one of my favorite scenes is Chapter 9, set in the local hangout where Trey, the aspiring rock star, sings and plays guitar for the locals, among them, my protagonist, Hadley. I tried to write it to show Trey’s magnetism and Hadley’s interest in him, not only as inspiration for the play she’s writing about the last moment of a woman’s romantic innocence, but also because she’s attracted to him. More than that, though, is the fact that Hadley, on that very night, is about to enter into a commitment with him—not for love, but for business, the music business. The conversation she has with Trey that night will lead into consequences for both of them, but especially for Hadley in her quest for figuring out what she wants out of life.

Why should we read your book?

I deliberately wrote it in such a way that it would stand out from others, especially in the language I used. I was an English teacher, as is Hadley, my main characters, so she often references books or the uses “English-y” language, such as her first interaction with Trey when she mentions a chiasmus (a sentence where the second half is an inverted form of the first half). Not many women’s fiction books mention that rhetorical figure, but along with humor and pop culture references, I wanted to distinguish it with thoughts an English teacher might have, without making it sound dull (like some English classes!).

What do you hope people will get out of your book?

I hope that women will relate to Hadley’s wishing they knew the last moment of their  romantic innocence, even though it’s just that—more of a wish, than a possibility. Hadley doesn’t want to get hurt in love again, so she wants to see if she can find the moment of the preemptive strike with heartbreakers, so as to avoid the inevitable fall. Even though that’s not possible, I hope it will make some women (and men) think about the people they’re attracted to—and why—and instead fall in love with the person they are before they rush to find the perfect mate. I also hope people will enjoy the colorful characters in the book, the people in Hadley’s rural hometown as well as her friends in L.A. It’s a chance to live in other worlds with hopefully interesting characters they might not meet every day.

About the author:

Jude Hopkins has published essays in The Los Angeles Times, Medium, the belladonna—and poetry in various journals including Gyroscope Review, Timber Creek Review and California Quarterly. She is currently working on her first novel, Babe in the Woods.

It has always been her desire to write. She was featured in Dickinson College’s literary magazine when she was an undergraduate. One poem in particular, Mixed Metaphors,” contrasted two viewpoints in a lakeside scene: one of a romantic young woman who thought the wind was blowing through her hair like an Aeolian harp; the other, that of her suitor who believed the water looked as cold as hell. Ah, love’s different sensibilities! What she lost in that relationship, she gained from her sojourn at Dickinson, earning her Phi Beta Kappa key while there, as well as a desire to continue her education.

Then it was on to graduate school at Arizona State University where studying for her master’s degree in English and grading essays as a teaching assistant took most of her time (and partying — it was ASU, for Pete’s sake). However, she did have a germ of an idea for a self-help book that she began outlining, fueled by many a Thermos bottle of Dunkin’ coffee.

It wasn’t until she moved to L.A. that she thought about writing a proposal for that self-help book. She got some bites from agents. Top agents. But working three jobs took precedence. (One of those jobs was at a Hollywood record company where she met a Beatle, among other artists.)

When she finally moved back to Pennsylvania, she began seriously writing again, squeezing in time to pen some poems between endless essay grading at one of the University of Pittsburgh’s branch campuses. As an adjunct English instructor, Jude was uncompromising on what she expected from her students, knowing they were capable of achieving great things when challenged, but she tried to balance the hard work with humor. Nevertheless, she knew that discipline and knowledge could turn even the most reluctant student into a pretty good writer. To achieve that end, the cellphones had to be put away, and attention had to be paid. The result? Some model research papers and essays from memorable students (she taught English in Pennsylvania, New York state, California and Arizona).

The need to write something besides comments on student essays gnawed at her. One day, she took out her old self-help book manuscript from a cobwebby drawer and began the process of turning it into a novel. That novel became “Babe in the Woods” and will be traditionally published by Wild Rose Press sometime in 2023. She blogs about that novel, so, readers, please follow her blogs as she updates everyone on the book’s progress. Please also check out her essays and poems, also featured herein.


Jude Hopkins will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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