THE HOOK: Surfing to Survive a Shattered Family, Drugs, Gangs and the FBI

Kathleen Doler The Hook banner
Surfing and drug culture are no strangers. Hear how deftly Kathleen Doler weaves the two in her book, THE HOOK
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THE HOOK, Surfing to Survive a Shattered Family, Drugs, Gangs and the FBI is a new novel out by Kathleen Doler, friend to Standup Journal.  In it, we see how protagonist Dana uses both surfing and stand up paddling as a means to cope with drug addiction, loss and ultimately reuniting a family.  Available now on and in Barnes and Nobel booksellers. Check out The Hook today!

The Hook Kathleen Doler fiction
THE HOOK, a tale of drug addiction, family tragedy and coming together incorporates the surfing & paddling culture into it’s scenery so that outdoor enthusiast might enjoy the journey.  Photo by:  Brian Grainger

Surf into some Fiction with THE HOOK

“…an engaging saga of life on the edge.”

In THE HOOK, our main character, Dana, goes on a rescue mission to help her injured and drug-addicted brother, Shane. A former pro surfer, Shane’s now an addict and he’s in the hospital. Dana reluctantly comes back to her hometown to help him and they both get caught up in a drug war and an FBI investigation. The journey, which includes many surfing and paddling adventures, also forces Dana to confront her ruinous childhood and her struggle to overcome it. It’s a tale that will resonate with many watermen and women as, sadly, we know that drug addiction is rampant in many of surfing’s inner circles.

“THE HOOK reminded me of a big wave with a very steep drop; the outcome is uncertain until the ride is over.” – SJ photog Bruce Topp

Standup Journal shutterbug Bruce Topp, reviewed THE HOOK. He reports: “Doler adeptly combines her passion for the ocean with considerable insight into complex family dynamics, addiction and recovery, and even law enforcement…it’s an engaging saga of life on the edge. THE HOOK reminded me of a big wave with a very steep drop; the outcome is uncertain until the ride is over.”

The Hook Kathleen Doler cover
A story of addiction, family and surfing set in Half Moon Bay by Kathleen Doler

Standup Journal’s Online Editor Evelyn O’Doherty speaks with author Kathleen Doler about THE HOOK:

Standup Journal: Your novel is set in Half Moon Bay, California. Why did you chose that location for your backdrop?

KD: I liked the idea of Dana, who’s a globe-trotter and is successful in her career, being forced to come back to a small town which she left in an effort to bury her past. Also, Half Moon Bay is very foggy, albeit sometimes gloomy and dark,.  It has also maintained some of its rural agricultural roots despite its population growth. Of course, it also had to be a surf town. I might have chosen my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, but I wanted the story to unfold in an even smaller community, where everyone knows each other…or knows of each other.

Standup Journal: Why write a novel using the backdrop of surfing and paddling?

KD: I grew up surfing.  I still surf, as well as stand up paddle and paddle surf. Surfing communities are very tight-knit, and they have an unusual culture. Surfers often live to surf.  Everything else is secondary. However sadly, surfing communities are often rife with drugs. It made sense to tell this family drama through a drug crime tale with surfing as the background. I also like the metaphor of comparing life to surfing big unpredictable waves…you think you’re doing fine and then you get slammed from behind…by your family, a job, a relationship, whatever.

Standup Journal: Why did you write it as fiction?

KD: Readers enjoy nonfiction sports stories and they have for ages. Think about:  Wild, Into Thin Air, Barbarian Days and others. But there’s been little recently to entice and enthrall fiction readers who also love the outdoors, the ocean and the mountains. I hope to fill that gap! I’d love to see watermen and women reading THE HOOK on their tailgates or on the beach in between paddle or surf sessions.

Kathleen Doler THE HOOK author
Author Kathleen Doler unpacks THE HOOK for Standup Journal Online.


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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.