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About J.R. Hooge

The short version…

J.R. Hooge is a writer, attorney, artist, woodworker and naturalist. Leafensong: First Telling is the initial installment of his high fantasy series, including original artwork by J.R. Hooge himself. He lives in Lawrence, KS with his wife and two dogs, and is happiest wandering the woods with his sketchpad in hand.

The medium version…

J.R. Hooge is an attorney, writer, artist, woodworker and naturalist. The roots of his high fantasy series Leafensong grow deep; the book was inspired by his walks in the woods 35 years ago, and now his vision is finally being realized. A mostly self-taught artist, Hooge’s original artwork brings the first installment of his epic series to life. He lives in Lawrence, KS with his wife and two dogs, and is happiest wandering the woods with his sketchpad in hand.

The long version, for those so inclined…

J.R. Hooge was born in Ottawa, Kansas in 1950, a midwestern boy from the start. A preacher’s son with a penchant for mischief, he spent his childhood hunting pheasant in the prairies of Nebraska with his father and brothers. From an early age John loved to draw, but his small-town schools offered no art instruction. It would be decades before he honed his artistic craft. 

In eighth grade John decided to become a lawyer, and, as they say, that was that. He graduated from Ottawa University with a B.A. in pre-law and some long hippie hair, then began law school in 1973 at the University of Kansas and transferred to Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis to finish. In 1977, his wife and baby girl in tow, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas where he’s had his law practice for over 40 years. 

While in his senior year of college, at the urging of his then girlfriend (who has now been his wife for over 45 years) he took a drawing class. And low and behold he had natural talent. The distractions mounted, however–the gorgeous girlfriend, school–and drawing took a back seat again. 

After practicing law for a few years, his wife asked him to illustrate a poem she had written. He drew his favorite thing–a tree. She bought him steel point pens and a book on pen and ink drawing. Thus, his second career–as an artist–began. Mostly self-taught, he devoured nearly every book in the local library and took a handful of classes in drawing, painting and serigraphs. He exhibited drawings and prints at art shows for a number of years, but again, life got in the way (as it often does) and he has rarely shown anything for the last 30 years. 

During those years of creativity he was inspired by the fantasy novels Lord of the Rings and Watership Down; the latter remains one of his all time favorite books. Soon after, the ideas for his own book were born. During long walks in the woods among his beloved trees–bur oaks, sycamores, locusts and ash–enthralled by the connection between animals and their surroundings, he grew the idea for his novel slowly but surely. He once read somewhere that an author should write the book he/she wants to read, so that’s precisely what he did.

While Watership Down involves the adventures of a warren of rabbits, Leafensong depicts the journey of uniquely gifted squirrels through a mysterious post-nuclear forest. For years at a time he let the book gather dust while he worked, established his law practice and helped raise his two children, but he never stopped drawing. His dogs and his sketch pad have been companions through the years during his near-weekly hikes in Eastern Kansas, and he has captured the various trees for illustration of this series. More recently he began drawing the characters who have inhabited his mind all these years. His wife calls it Johnnie World.

Most days you can find him in his law office, wood shop, art studio, the woods, or on the couch, typing away. He finds joy in creating, and in spending time with those he loves, especially his six grandchildren, who all call him Papa.