An Ornithologist's Guide to Life: Stories
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After Hood earned her BA in English from the University of Rhode Island, she worked for the now-defunct airlines TWA as a flight attendant, living in Boston and Saint Louis and later moving to New York City. She attended graduate school at New York University, studying American Literature.
Hood began writing her first novel Somewhere Off The Coast Of Maine in 1983 while working as a flight attendant — and while attending graduate school —writing whenever she could during train rides to JFK airport or in the galleys of the airplane while passengers slept. During a furlough from the airline, she worked at the Spring Street Bookstore in Soho and Tony Roma's while writing Somewhere Off The Coast Of Maine. Like much of her work, Somewhere Off The Coast Of Maine draws upon her own life. Hood says the book began as a series of short stories about three women who went to college together in the 1960s. A year earlier, her older brother, Skip, died in a freak accident and Hood was struggling with how to cope with the loss. At a writer’s conference, Hood was convinced by the writer Nicholas Delbanco that she was really writing a novel, and from there she began to connect the stories.
In 1987 the novel was published by Bantam Books as one of the launch books for their original paperback series, Bantam New Fiction.
Hood’s flight attendant career ended in 1986 when TWA went on strike and the flight attendants found themselves soon “replaced.” With more time to devote to writing, her stories and essays began to appear in Mademoiselle, Redbook, Story, Self, Glamour, New Woman, among others.
Hood lives with her husband, businessman Lorne Adrain, her teenage son Sam and her daughter Annabelle in Providence, Rhode Island.
On April 18, 2002, Hood's five-year-old daughter, Grace, died from a virulent form of strep. For two years Hood found herself unable to write or even read. She took solace in learning to knit and in knitting groups. She gradually made her way back to her craft, writing short essays about Grace and grief. To make sense of her own grief, in fall of 2004 Hood began to write her novel The Knitting Circle, about a woman whose five-year-old daughter dies from meningitis. The woman joins a knitting group of others also struggling to heal from loss. Hood’s best-selling memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief chronicles her own struggle after her daughter’s sudden death.
The summer after Grace died, Hood and Adrain thought about having a baby. When Hood had trouble conceiving, they decided to adopt. In March 2005, they traveled to China, where they adopted Annabelle. Hood’s experience adopting in China became the inspiration for her 2010 novel The Red Thread, which follows a woman struggling with the accidental death of her young daughter. The woman, Maya Lange, begins an adoption agency for Chinese babies.