University of Rhode Island alum Ann Hood became a successful writer almost overnight. The Trans World Airlines, TWA, flight attendant turned New York Times Bestselling author credits her success to a sense of adventure and her incredible professors.
“In order to be a writer, I thought I needed adventure,” Hood said. “I only grew up 20 minutes from URI, so I figured it was time to see the world and have those adventures.”
The class of 1978 alum recalls her days at Rhody as a wonderful experience. Hood was heavily involved on campus as a sister of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, member of Student Senate and a member of the Good 5 Cent Cigar in the business department.
As an English major, the job market was tough for Hood. With her Bachelor of Arts and her drive for literary inspiration, she worked as a flight attendant for TWA. Hood flew from coast to coast, traveling to cities like Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She also spent time stationed in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. But Hood always wanted to visit New York.
Fulfilling her childhood fantasy, TWA sent Hood to Kennedy International Airport, in New York. Living in Greenwich Village, the change in scenery “automatically [gave] me such a welcoming, neighborhood feeling. It was full of artists and dancers, yet romantic and very exciting.”
Hood went on to earn her Master’s in American Literature from New York University. One of her professors was the former Viking Press Editor-in-Chief, and she credits him for her jump to success.
“Many of my teachers exposed me to different levels of literature,” Hood said. “I found that my classes were tough and very structured, my work was being edited more than ever.”
One summer, Hood called out sick from TWA for 12 days to attend the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont. Founded in 1926, many famous writers, including Robert Frost, have attended the prestigious conference.
She took her book “Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine”, at the time only 40 to 50 pages long, with her. Nick Delbanco, a British author, “gave my book to his agent and I had a book contract by the end of the summer,” Hood said.
Shortly after selling the book, Hood had a front page review in the New York Times. One of the Barnes and Noble stores in New York covered their front store window with Hood’s bestseller.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” Hood said. “Months earlier I was saying ‘chicken or beef?’ on flights to Paris, my life changed dramatically.”
Although her first book was published over 20 years ago, Hood still cannot believe she is an author.
Hood has taught various workshops, classes and lecture series throughout her career. Hood learned that individuals with the most talent are not necessarily the best writers. Instead,those who are the most dedicated, and do not let discouragement affect them, are the best.
“You have to read everything that you can get your hands on,” Hood said. “Just because I like to write a certain kind of novel doesn’t mean that I don’t like to read fiction or mystery books. You need to write everyday and be open to different comments or criticism.”
This coming August, Hood will have a new memoir on the bookshelves. Entitled “Growing Up Reading,” it will account the books that personally shaped her life in high school. Hood also is working on new novel called “Museum of Tears.”
URI taught Hood to love Shakespeare and poetry, and introduced her to different classes and literary aspects. The novelist and short-story writer encourages aspiring writers to take chances and be creative.
“I’m a real believer in following your passions, “ Hood said. “It’s not about pursuing the art and thinking about paychecks, but thinking about how to make the world a more beautiful place.”