Small-town Idaho pig farmer is best-selling romance novelist

Posted at 12:22 AM, Jul 15, 2016

Many people don't consider swine to be sexy. But Heidi Hooper is not your ordinary farm girl.

Hooper met her husband Tim in the Gooding County 4-H pig barn in high school. The two now raise prize-winning hogs with their two children, Libby and Gus. But forget the slop. What Hooper is dishing up in her bedroom is where it really gets dirty.

Three years ago, the 37-year-old started writing romance novels late at night on a small desk next to her bed. “Sometimes I say contemporary romance or adult romance books. But it really does have a stigma. Some people say, 'I don’t read that trash'," Hooper said.

That is why, for the past few years, Hooper has led a double life. Besides pig farming, she was also a school teacher. She published her novels under the pen name H.J. Bellus. The last name honors Hooper’s grandparents who raised her.

Hooper is prolific, pounding out a book a month. “I love the storyline. I love falling in love with characters. Yes, sex is an added bonus. I’m not going to lie. I’m not dead,” Hooper said with a laugh. “Some of the things I read and write, 'Oh, that was good. I need to go cool off!'”

Hooper’s success helped breed bravery. Last May, H.J. Bellus came out from behind her pen name. “When you quit caring what people think of you or how you are being judged then that’s when you are truly free,” Hooper said. 

The checks are rolling in and this past year, Hooper left teaching to write full time. To date, Hooper has penned more than 20 romance novels and was recently part of an anthology that hit the USA Today bestseller list.