The Temple Sinai Sisterhood has scheduled a crowd-pleaser for Wednesday, May 23, when best-selling author and Rhode Island native Ann Hood visits the temple to discuss her work. An Evening with Ann Hood is open to the public and will start at 7 p.m. at the 30 Hagen Avenue facility.
Hood is currently promoting “The Red Thread,” a story about six couples adopting babies from China, six Chinese women giving their children up, and the woman who runs the adoption agency. The story, while fictional, is inspired by Hood’s own experiences adopting her daughter.
Of the 12 books Hood has authored, many draw inspiration from her own life.
“Usually my books center upon crises or dilemmas that women face. I write about the things that keep me up at night and then I fictionalize those issues,” Hood said.
One of her novels, “The Knitting Circle,” is being pursued by HBO for a TV movie, and she will release her next adult novel, “The Obituary Writer,” next March.
Hood grew up in West Warwick and knew early on that she wanted to be a writer.
“I started writing when I was a little kid; I’ve always had the writing bug. I grew up in a time or place when they didn’t really know what to do with that,” she recalled.
Without any real guidance on how to become a professional writer, Hood pursued a degree in English from the University of Rhode Island and immersed herself in biographies of writers, trying to get a grasp on how they did it. Unsure of where to go from there, she decided that the best way to find inspiration for writing was to “have adventures.” She became a flight attendant for TWA and spent eight years jetsetting around the world. From there, she moved to New York City, where she couldn’t walk five blocks without stumbling upon a small bookstore hosting readings, or a program with classes for aspiring writers.
“I had landed in the world of writing,” she said.
Hood got her Master’s degree in American literature at NYU and got her big break when she was invited to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, an American literary institution started by Robert Frost in 1926.
Hood has been a full-time writer ever since, and now lives on the East Side of Providence. She is currently working on a young adult series, “The Treasure Chest.” Of the eight books planned, Hood has written six, and the third installment was just published in January. She will touch upon this series at the program on May 23.
“They expect a lot of the people who will attend will have children or grandchildren in that age range,” she said.
“The Treasure Chest” series is about twins whose parents get divorced and they are uprooted to live in the servants’ quarters of a fictional Newport Mansion. Upon exploration, the siblings discover a “cabinet of curiosities,” and find that they have the ability to time travel when, together, they hold different items in the cabinet.
During their time traveling expeditions, the twins meet famous people throughout history, such as Clara Barton, Alexander Hamilton and author Pearl Buck.
“The idea is kind of to introduce contemporary children to famous Americans who maybe are not as famous as they once were,” Hood said.
In her travels, she estimates she has spoken to nearly 3,000 children in the past four months and none of them had heard of Pearl Buck. This series, she hopes, will change that.
The idea came from a series Hood enjoyed as a child, “Childhood of Famous Americans.” She read all of them as a child, and continues to collect them today.
“I would always daydream about meeting these people,” she said.
In general, Hood’s writing process has not changed as she made the shift from adult readers to young adults. But because it is part of a series, she has had to push herself to the limit to get new installments ready in time.
“For adult books, a novel takes me about three years. These, I have to hand the next one in about every three months,” she said. “It’s been crazy, but fun. It’s got me on my toes.”
Still, Hood is glad to take time out from writing to talk to readers and aspiring writers about her books and their process. After all, she never knows where the next novel idea will come from.
“I’m always thinking about the next one,” she said.
An Evening with Ann Hood is open to the public. Coffee and dessert will be served, and admission is $12 at the door or $10 in advance. Send your check to the Temple Sinai Sisterhood, 30 Hagen Avenue, Cranston, RI 02920. For more information, call Sandy at 944-1121.