Rob Lowe, Staff Writer
On Friday, September 1, The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home welcomed novelist and short story writer Ann Hood for the 2017 Ursrey Memorial Lecture. The event took place at Trinity United Methodist Church.
The Ursrey Memorial Lecture is endowed in memory of the brothers Terry and Ashley Ursrey, native Georgians who loved of all things southern. The lecture series began in 2008.
Ann Hood is a bestselling writer and the author of multiple novels, memoirs, a short story collection, a 10-book series for middle readers and a young adult novel. Her essays and short stories have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Tin House and others.
Hood is also the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Best American Travel Writing Award, a Best American Food Writing Award and the Paul Bowels Prize for Short Fiction.
Throughout Hood’s lecture, she spoke about how she came to love reading, writing and the impact that books have had on her life.
“Telling stories, and reading stories, has helped me, shaped me and taught me,” Hood stated. Hood began to read at the age of four and instantly fell in love with books.
“I wanted to live in a book” Hood said.
Coming from a small town in Rhode Island, Hood did not have access to many books except for those at her school. As a child, she would read the local newspaper, “Reader’s Digest” and any other magazines and books she could get her hands on.
Hood recounted the memory of writing her first short story as a child.
“I could read if I wanted to escape, and write if I wanted to better understand the world in which I lived,” she explained.
Hood attended the University of Rhode Island where she majored in English. After college, she decided that she wanted to travel and gain new experiences. So, for eight years, Hood worked as a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines (TWA).
Hood wrote her first novel, “Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine”, in 1983 while she was still working as a flight attendant. This book was published in 1987.
Many of Hood’s novels often reflect the tragedies and hardships faced in her own life. Hood lost her brother in 1982. This tragedy highly influenced her first novel. Years later, Hood’s 5-year-old daughter passed away from a virulent case of strep throat. Hood’s novel “The Knitting Club” mirrors her own experience of overcoming the grief from losing a child.
Hood’s books to follow have included “The Red Thread”, “The Obituary Writer”, “The Book That Matters Most” and more. Her latest book, “Morningstar: Growing Up with Books”, was released on August 1. This is a memoir in which Hood explores the impact that literature has had on her own life.
At the closing of Hood’s Lecture there was a question and answer portion with the audience, which was then followed by a book signing and reception.
For more information on Ann Hood or her books, visit her website http://www.annhood.us