■ BY SUE ERWIN
Island author Candice Shy Hooper was born in Agana, Guam. Her father served in the Navy, and her mother was a military wife. As a child, she lived on Saipan, and she moved around a lot depending on where her dad was stationed. Candice moved to the Washington, D.C. area to pursue a career in 1978.
During her last semester in college at the University of Illinois, she was a journalism student intern in Washington.
“The members of the congressional office would vie for journalism interns, because they were always looking for help in writing press releases and letters to constituents,” she said.
She ended up being an intern for a congressman in Austin, Texas. His name was J. Pickle.
“He introduced me to a colleague, Charlie Wilson, who eventually hired me to work as his press assistant. So I went back to Illinois to graduate and then came right back to Washington. And later, I became his legislative aid for energy during the Arab oil embargo.”
Candice worked for Charlie for five years. Then she worked for a Texas energy company, taking classes in the evenings for four years at Georgetown Law School with a concentration in legislative counseling.
“I realized that almost everyone I was working with had a law degree, and I knew that’s what I needed to do to stay ahead. I wasn’t interested in being a lawyer, it was really out of self defense.”
She later went on to work as a political lobbyist for a law firm and ended up meeting Lindsay Hooper, the man who would become her husband.
“He was working on the Hill for a Wyoming senator, and we started a lobbying firm together a few years later and ran that company together for 10 years. It was called Hooper, Hooper and Owen (H2O). And when Charlie retired from the House of Representatives, he joined our lobbying firm. So the beginning and the end of my career in Washington were spent with Charlie, who was such a great friend,” she said.
Candice spent the last few years of her career working from her home as a lobbyist. That’s when she realized there was something she was tremendously interested in: military history.
So she went back to school and earned a master’s degree in history at George Washington University. She began working on a book called “Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives: Four Women Who Influenced the Civil War – For Better and For Worse” while still working as a lobbyist. At first, she just wanted to get an article published about it, but after talking with two friends and a Civil War expert and a military history professor, she took their advice and turned it into a book. She also learned something about her own mother, who had traveled the world to be near her father during his service. When she started to add up the miles her mother logged while moving their family from place to place, she realized that added up to tens of thousands of miles.
It took her eight years to write the book.
“This has been a fascinating learning experience. Aside from doing all the research, I’ve learned so much about my own parents as well,” she said.
She spent a lot of time writing from her home office in Boca Grande.
“It’s so inspiring here, and the beauty of going back to school when I was 55 was that, although I was older than many of my professors, I absolutely had no idea what I was getting into. I love nothing more than to learn,” she said.
She applied for and received a travel grant through the University of Notre Dame because she saw online there were two boxes of data that she needed for the book that were not cataloged.
“And I just had to go see what was in those boxes,” she said.
She completed the book, and it was published and released by Kent State University Press in May 2016. It is currently available on Amazon in hard copy and Kindle and will soon be available as an audio book at audible.com.
Candice is a member of the Boca Grande Live Poet’s Society, a group that’s been meeting on the island for years.
“They’re a fantastic collection of people,” she said.
She won an award last year for a poem she wrote called “Fawns in the Field,” chronicling a personal experience depicting the fate of young white-tailed deer seeking solace in a field at a Montana farm while a destructive tractor slowly loomed in the distance.
She discovered that PoetryLife was holding a contest and submitted her piece. The contest was judged by Vanderbuilt University. Her poem was selected, and she was honored in April of 2016 at a bookstore in Sarasota.
“I certainly did not expect to win. That was quite a surprise and an honor. Once you look at yourself as a poet, things look different to you. Experiences come to you in a different way. If I hadn’t been involved with the poetry group, I never would have thought to write that down,” she said.
Lindsay is from a small town in Wyoming called Sundance.
The couple own a ranch in Montana and spend the summer months there.
Candice and Lindsay were introduced to Boca Grande by mutual friends. Lindsay is an avid golfer, but Candice isn’t really, saying she’d much rather be engrossed in a good book. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and attending lectures and conferences.
She said the Boca Grande community is an intellectually charged environment.
“I love to learn, and the people here are so inspiring. I didn’t realize it as much when we first moved here. The longer we stayed. the more I realized what a perfect place this is,” she said. “This is home to me. I love our little ranch, but I love being in Boca Grande.”
When asked if she has given thought to writing a second book, the answer wasn’t immediately clear.
“I’m thinking about another book, but I haven’t formulated a strategy as of yet. I think the next book may channel my dad more and focus more on Navy issues. My dad was a hospital coroner, and he concentrated on life and death – and I think that might be the general focus. Looking at life and death at sea and how the family has to cope when there is no grave to go to visit. It’s a much stronger topic, but I am drawn to it.”
Candice is on the board of the One Big Grande Boca Book Club (OBGBBC), and the group recently announced the list of books for the 2018 selection. There are five books, and people can select up to two books. See the website for a complete description of the books and vote online at friendsofbocagrande.org/obgbbc-vote.
Candice will be speaking on her book at the Boca Grande Community Center at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15.