50 Fun Facts

Ever wonder why The Hooded's symbol is a horse? Or maybe how Francis Booker and Michael Ragusa came up with the idea of The Hooded? Or just who are Francis Booker and Michael Ragusa?

Now's your chance to find out! Below are 50 Fun Facts about the authors, the world of The Hooded, the book's production, and more!

1. The Hooded is a new fantasy novel written by Francis Booker and Michael Ragusa. It follows the story of Damon and Cyril Red, two brothers who are left struggling to find out why their older brother would betray them and their kingdom.

2. Although the book releases in 2020, work on the book actually started as early as 2014, under the title Hunters. Francis and Michael worked on the book together, going as far as to make a 50-page outline for two full books. Despite extensive planning, only about 30 pages of Hunters was actually written.

3. Hunters followed a very similar plot to The Hooded. The biggest change between the two was that Hunters featured a variety of monsters that plagued the kingdom. The story was dropped for about four years. When it was picked up again, Francis and Michael realized that the monsters in the story didn’t add very much, so they were removed.

4. Even though the monsters were taken out of Hooded, Francis is still interested in doing a book about monster hunters (maybe a future novel in the works…).

5. Francis and Michael are just two 21-year-old boys from Connecticut. Neither has a lot of formal training in writing. Francis is currently studying chemistry and planning on going to medical school in the future. Michael is studying finance with aims to be in the business world.

6. There’s a running joke between Francis and Michael to keep adding adjectives to the name The Hooded. Because there were so many early drafts of the story, the naming of the file with the story went from The Hooded to The New Hooded to The Next New Hooded. Michael especially takes every opportunity he can to keep adding to that list when naming emails or files. The most adjectives they’ve ever used was Next New Ultimate Supreme Current And Right Now Hooded

7. Michael even names non-book things after The Next New Hooded, including a fantasy football team (The Next New Advanced Hooded) and bowling names (where The Hooded bowled against The New Hooded).

8. During the course of writing The Hooded, most of the characters got renamed. The change happened because the Kingdom of Regostia became a much more Roman/Greek culture, and with it, every character in Regostia took on a Greek name. Damon and Cyril were originally named Matt and Dom.

9. Francis and Michael originally wanted to do Roman names for all the characters, but most Roman male names end in -us and they didn’t want every guy to have the same sounding name. It would have been a lot to have Augustus, Julius, Octavius, etc.

10. Greek names were chosen because they fit in the sweet spot between sounding natural to an American audience, but also sounding somewhat foreign and memorable. Names like Alex and Nick could stay, but some characters would have more uncommon names, like Kaia or Cyril. Damon fell somewhere perfectly in the middle, because it isn’t a name you hear often, but sounds enough like Damien that you feel like it is a common name.

11. This isn’t the first book that Francis has worked on with Greek names. He also worked on an unfinished project called Champions back in 2011. After he moved away from Champions, his coauthor and cousin Peter kept the idea alive on the backburner for about eight years. Several plot points and names from Champions were later incorporated into The Hooded.

12. The Hooded isn’t Michael’s first book attempt either. He previously worked on a novel called Trails, about airplane chemtrails being used to control the weather. Francis and Michael still routinely read through the first three chapters of the book because of how hilariously wacky it is. It’s a story that defies genre.

13. Francis and Michael both have an irrational fear that something in the book won’t make any sense in retrospect. This fear partially comes from an incident in Hunters. When they were going through Hunters in preparation for The Hooded, they realized that King Varnak had been searching for an artifact called the Morray Stone for ten years. Only at the end of the ten years did he finally decide to check the Morray Fields… Somehow, neither Francis nor Michael realized the incredibly obvious problem there for years.

14. Morar, the energy-based power most characters use, has an interesting origin. In early drafts of Hunters, the power that the characters used was called chikara, after the Japanese word for power. This was later changed to Joules, a scientific unit of energy. However, neither term really stuck.

15. For reasons neither Francis nor Michael can remember, Michael eventually looked up the Latin word morari, which means “to linger.” It was at the same time Francis was working on a property the energy had, where it would stay in the air during and after a battle. It matched perfectly. Later, morari changed to just morar, as the latter flowed easier.

16. Most characters in The Hooded have last names related to some color (Red, Ambers, White, Winters, etc.). This was actually completely unintentional on Francis and Michael’s part. They didn’t even know it until someone pointed it out to them. Instead of changing some characters to have non-color names, they decided to double down on the color naming so that every character would have a color last name.

17. The only character in the book that doesn’t have a color last name is King Varnak. The name Varnak was one that appeared in the earliest drafts of Hunters and is so deeply ingrained in Francis and Michael’s minds that they couldn’t bear to change it.

18. On the subject of King Varnak, he doesn’t actually have a first name. In Hunters, he was known as King Raymond Varnak, however that never seemed to sound right. When the character’s names were changed to all have Greek roots, Francis didn’t feel like finding the king a new name. He was almost always referred to as just King Varnak, so giving him a name didn’t seem too important.

19. There are two scrapped prologues for the first book. The first was a long series of Ander rescuing a councilman’s daughter from a kidnapping attempt. This scene actually still canonically takes place a few hours before chapter 1.

20. The second scrapped prologue was a short scene between Ander and Joran Tanner immediately after their fight during the Martolac Uprising. Although an incredibly important scene, it didn’t have any context as the very beginning of the book, and so was removed as a prologue.

21. Both chapters are set to be posted on the official website’s Short Stories page. The second prologue, The End of War can be read here right now!

22. In the world of The Hooded, The Kingdom of Kasun is one of The Kingdom of Regostia’s closest allies, although it wasn’t always this way. The Kingdom of Regostia actually broke off from Kasun during a civil war about seventy years before the start of The Hooded. By the time the story starts, the two kingdoms have had so much shared history that they have moved from being enemies to allies, in much the same way as the United States and Great Britain.

23. One of many sources of inspiration for the character of Ander came from Francis’ own life. Francis is the oldest of six kids and often feels the pressure of having to look out for his younger siblings.

24. Another (albeit odd) source of inspiration was the song Warriors, by Imagine Dragons. Particularly the line “But you always knew that you'd be the one that work while they all play” always stuck out to Francis and seemed to directly connect to Ander.

25. Francis actually pulls a lot of inspiration from music. He has trouble thinking creatively without a song going and there are songs that he can’t listen to without going back to the scenes or ideas he was thinking of the first time he got into them.

26. Kryptonite by Three Doors Down is probably the oldest song that he can still connect to a book idea. He was working on that book around 2008, which predates The Hooded, Hunters, and Champions by a wide margin. It was actually Francis’ first attempt at writing a novel.

27. Michael is often referred to as “the idea guy” as he is the one Francis will go to whenever he gets stuck or needs to work something out. Even more important, in Francis’ opinion, is that Michael is the name guy. While Francis can’t name a character without intense effort, Michael can rattle off a half dozen names in a few minutes and Francis will usually just pick one of those and roll with it.

28. Francis’ and Michael’s responsibilities have changed since Hunters. When they were working on Hunters, the two took turns writing each chapter. The Hooded, however, was entirely written by Francis. Because of this, Michael sees himself more as a co-creator than co-author (although Francis disagrees).

29. The book took about four months to finish an initial workable draft. It was started in early January and finished in early April. Francis actually finished his first round of thorough editing while on a plane flying back to school from Orlando.

30. The characters of Damon and Cyril were originally based on Francis and Michael. By the time the book finished, the characters developed pretty substantially away from their authors and now the comparisons are much less obvious.

31. World events in The Hooded are almost entirely based around individual leaders. The Martolac Uprising was led by Joran Tanner. The War of the One Man Army was led by Raskin of the Desert Rose. And, of course, other events we can’t talk about without spoilers are also led by individuals.

32. This was a conscious choice on Francis’ part. He describes it as a history made by heroes, where one or two people really shift history one way or another. It makes the story easier to understand. With this system, The Martolac Uprising wasn’t so much a complex web of social and political unrest that catalyzed into a revolt. Instead, Joran Tanner was the Martolac Uprising. When he dies, the Uprising falls apart.

33. One feature of the first Hooded book is that Damon is continually shown up. He starts the book fighting in minor league tournaments, but feels like he’s on top of the world. After he joins the Hooded, he realizes he’s not even at the level of Hooded Regular, a mid-level rank of Hooded. Soon after, he sees the Hooded Commander and one of the most powerful people in the world fight, and realizes he can’t fight them for more than a few seconds.

34. The Hooded uniforms were originally inspired by someone wearing a red hood. Francis changed the hood from red to black, thinking that hiding wouldn’t be easy if you had a bright red hood on. Early drafts of The Hooded did include a uniform that had a red trim though, especially because red and black go well together. However, this was dropped when Francis looked up images of hoods with black and red and got almost all pictures of Dracula.

35. The kingdoms in the world of Hooded were originally all based on different countries in real life. For example, the Kingdom of Regostia was based on American culture and the Kingdom of Kasun based on Japanese culture. Each kingdom had names, languages, and architecture more directly taken from their country’s culture. The idea was modified because they couldn’t linguistically mesh the idea that Regostia and Kasun would have such different languages, despite a shared history and close proximity.

36. Instead, now each kingdom takes influence from real countries, like Regostia taking from Greek and Roman culture, but the cultures themselves are a mesh of many ideas, including some original ones.

37. One of Francis’ dreams is that someone will read The Hooded and decide to write some Hooded fanfictions. Specifically, there are three types of story he’d love to see someone other than himself write about The Hooded. The first is a next generation story, showing the characters after the completion of The Hooded trilogy.

38. The second fanfiction Francis wants to see is people making their own stories that take place in the world of The Hooded. People learning new morar techniques and arts, exploring kingdoms that aren’t in The Hooded very often, and telling a totally unique story. The last idea that has interested Francis is the idea of The Hooded set in modern times.

39. All three books of The Hooded already have tentative names. They are Stand, Fall, and Rise. Having them in that order tells a simple three-word story. Even without reading the books, you know the characters are in for a wild ride. Francis and Michael also like the one-word titles. They feel like it’s clean, simple and consistent.

40. Originally, the chapter titles were all supposed to be one-word titles as well, but they couldn’t fit the idea of every chapter into only one word. Instead, chapter titles are a mix of one-word titles, phrases, and character names.

41. Michael original drew up a lot of geographic maps for the continent in The Hooded. For some reason, he and Francis mentally envisioned the map almost completely flipped east to west from one another.

42. When Francis suggested bringing The Hooded back, Michael was hesitant at first. The two had failed at writing this story so many times that he didn’t want to go through it all again. When Michael finally agreed, he did it saying, “If this one doesn’t work out, I’m done.”

43. Even while writing this fact, Michael vehemently reiterated, “It’s true. I can’t do this again.”

44. An oddly specific fact is that horses are incredibly rare in the world of The Hooded. The horse
was chosen as the symbol for the Hooded because it’s a symbol of loyalty, but no one in the book actually rides a horse. Francis explains this by saying that horses just aren’t a common animal in the world of The Hooded, so only the very rich can afford to use them.

45. Francis’ favorite scene in the book is the battle with Ace.

46. Michael’s favorite scene is the scrapped prologue where Ander saves the councilman’s daughter.

47. Michael thinks that the most challenging part of writing the book was establishing and
maintaining the continuity of the story (ironically, one of Francis’s favorite parts).

48. The most challenging part for Francis was getting writer’s block and forcing himself to keep writing a scene that just didn’t feel like it was working.

49. Michael’s favorite part of writing The Hooded is coming up with names and writing the histories of the kingdoms.

50. Francis’ favorite part is looking back after the story is finished and seeing how far the characters and plot have come.

Bonus Fact:
Stand: The Hooded Book 1 was released December 10, 2019 on Amazon!

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