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HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Steph Johnson: Putting It On the Page

Sophia Matsoukas
Steph Johnson sits at her kitchen table beside her two self-published books. Johnson, soccer team captain and class secretary, has published two books over the past three years and hopes to continue writing in the future. “Being able to admire what you’ve done or have other people experience what you’ve put so much effort into, I think it’s worth it to take that risk in order to step back and see what you’ve achieved,” Johnson said.

Senior student and athlete Steph Johnson dedicates her time to writing books when she’s not on the soccer field.

Even from an early age, Johnson has always enjoyed writing. In elementary school, she would write short one-page stories about various characters from her imagination.

Although her sources of inspiration have evolved as she has grown older, the reason she continues to write has stayed constant.

“I feel like you can draw upon your experiences but also escape from your experiences, and create this world where you have all the power. And you can make it however big or small or intense or detailed as you want,” Johnson said.

When Johnson looked back on her middle school writing, she recognized her ability to complete longer pieces and decided to try to create more thoughtful and cohesive stories in hopes of eventually sharing them with the public.

“I wanted other people to be able to see what I’d done and worked on for so long. And I wanted to be proud of what I’d put so much effort into.”

“If people weren’t reading it, I’d feel like there was no summit at the end of the whole project, and so that was very rewarding to have people admire what I had done.”

Steph Johnson spends time writing in her living room.

In the summer of 2020, Johnson began writing what would become her first self-published book, “Across These Borders,” a dystopian story inspired by her favorite books at the time, like “Maze Runner” and “The Hunger Games.”

After going through the process of writing, editing, and designing the cover, Johnson was finally able to publish and order her first book one year later.

“I feel like it was kind of surreal. I was holding something that I had actually written, and all of those words were mine, which was really special,” Johnson said.

Her most recent book, published this summer, is “Coast Unclear.” It is a story about the world of crime from a criminal’s perspective.

“Because everything is written from the police or the good guys perspective, I think that this is a unique take to be focusing on and highlighting the criminals.”

After Johnson read “Across These Borders” in full and the first few chapters of “Coast Unclear,” she was able to reflect on her progress as a writer over three years and point out the differences between the two books.

“One of the things I was most proud of for the second book was the dialogue and how creative the characters were. I wanted people to see that. And I wanted people to be reading it more than I wanted the first one.”

In the future, Johnson has advice for fellow students who may want to put themselves out there and try something new.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking to put yourself out there like that, because there are things that are personal, and your talents and ideas are reflected in the things that you take part in.”

“But being able to admire what you’ve done or have other people experience what you’ve put so much effort into, if you’re really passionate about something, I think it’s worth it.”

Alongside being a published writer, she captains the soccer team, runs track and field, and serves as class secretary.

“Being able to pursue so many things that I’m interested in is what brings me a lot of the enjoyment that I have, and I think that that’s an accomplishment for me.”


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