Babe in the Woods
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.
“Have you ever fallen in love?”
He winked at her. “All the time.”
She’d have the last word, something she realized was important to her. “I think it’s wrong, all these women you lead on. Don’t you? I mean, they may get attached, fall for you. But you seem to use them, to see what you can get out of them for your own purposes. I think that’s wrong, They’re human beings, after all. With feelings.”
He turned around, his eyes drained of any light. “They use me, too. It’s not like they’re not getting anything out of it.”
“What am I getting out of this?” she asked him, if not rhetorically.
He stood on one hip, a move that made him appear more rakish than usual. “I really don’t know, Miss Todd. I wondered that myself. I thought perhaps you were bored or intrigued. Or maybe you’re a control freak.” He took a step toward her so he was within half an inch of her face. “Or maybe you’re just like the rest and can’t resist me.”
Hadley stood her ground. “How do you know when it’s over? The moment when love, or lust, turns into something else. Something not as passionate?”
“I don’t think about it,” he said, returning her gaze. “It’s something that happens. Maybe it’s not one moment. It just is.”
Women's fiction—with a splash of romance, albeit tempered. I was once an adjunct professor in English at various universities, expecting a lot of my students. But the need to write something besides comments on student essays gnawed at me. I wrote poems and essays, one of which appeared in the L.A. Times. One day, I took out my 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, coming out June 7, 2023. I was a runner-up in the 2018 Personal Essay Contest by Proximity Magazine, judged by Hanif Abdurraqib. Besides the essay in The Los Angeles Times, you'll find me on Medium, including The Belladonna, The Writing Cooperative and others, and have had poems published in Timber Creek Review and California Quarterly, among other journals. My publications can be seen on my website: judehopkinswriting.net/. Thanks for visiting!
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