SFU alum Michael Bains discusses inspiration behind his debut novel, “Hooped”

The book provides an insider perspective on living in Surrey

Black and white photo of Michael, an East Indian man, standing and smiling with cityscape behind him
Bains’ work is emotional and empathetic. Photo courtesy of Michael Bains

By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer

Content warning: Mentions of substance abuse

Passionate about telling diverse stories, author Michael Bains published his first book, Hooped, in 2020. The novel is about Jimmy, a high school basketball player from Surrey, and his journey using substances. In an interview with The Peak, Bains reflected on why featuring Surrey matters to him. 

“The media paints a certain picture of Surrey, and I don’t think it’s as accurate as what people who are actually from there consider Surrey to be,” Bains said.

Recognizing the misconceptions of his hometown as one solely filled with gang activity, Bains offers a fresh perspective.

He said a better portrayal of Surrey would include the “untapped potential that also resides there.” Bains added, “Everyone who I knew growing up had an amazing time growing up in a city that is full of culture, sports, art, and it was [a] close-knit community.” 

Because of his connection to Surrey, many of Jimmy’s experiences and the topics discussed in Hooped are inspired by Bains’ own life. Although Hooped’s protagonist is a teenager, Bains explains his book goes beyond discussing high school life, as it delves deep into mental health.

“It’s also about the evolution of oneself from being insecure, unsure, [and] uncertain, to a point where you become more comfortable with who you are,” Bains said.

Personal growth was an important theme for Bains when it came to realizing his goals and determining Jimmy’s character arc.

“A lot of things that would hold Jimmy back from doing something different, and changing his habits, and changing his life, were the exact same things that were holding me back,” said Bains.

Hooped also recognizes the balancing act of moving abroad as an immigrant family and raising children. Drawing inspiration from his father’s experience coming from India, Bains decided to feature a first-generation Canadian perspective in his book. 

Writing a novel can be challenging, but Bains shared one technique he found useful. Inspired by Stephen King, he committed to writing 1,000 words daily. 

“I think for anybody who wants to accomplish something that’s great and that’s worthwhile that it does take time. And you have to continue on the journey every single day.

“You have to be accountable to yourself, because it can take months and years in order for you to complete something,” Bains explained.

To encourage others chasing their dreams, Bains started the Pursue Your Passion series on his blog and Instagram. The collaborative series features people from different fields describing how they achieved their goals. By celebrating others’ accomplishments, Bains continues to encourage readers to aim high with their ambitions, no matter their profession. 

To support Michael Bains, follow Hooped on Instagram, @hoopedtalks. Hooped can be requested through Bains’ website, Indigo, local bookstores, and libraries. On October 27, Bains will be at the Surrey Public Library’s event Authors Among Us: Meet Michael Bains. Content warning: book contains descriptions of grief, substance use, and violence.