Interview by Hayley Battaglia, Fiction Editor
Much of your fiction is written in third person limited. What is it about this point of view that appeals to you?
I actually write mostly in multiple POVs, which doesn’t lend itself to first person. Also, for me, first person is really all about voice, like Holden Caulfield or Huck Finn. I’m trying for different character development that would not allow for that voice to be strong enough. And I don’t really like the limitations of first person as a writer.
What do you see as the limitations of writing in first person?
Well, you get just that narrow perspective. It’s kind of like those Olympic slalomers with the cameras on their helmets. You only see what that camera on their forehead sees. Third person allows for more perspective.
How early in your process do you settle on a point of view? What do you consider when making this choice?
Immediately. I can’t begin without knowing the basics, like POV, setting, etc.
How do you decide which characters’ perspectives are most important to the story you are telling?
I can’t really describe that. It’s organic to the story.
In The Red Thread, you write from the perspectives of both American women and Chinese women. The language of both the narration and the dialogue evoke these cultural differences. What kind of research did you do in order to create such an authentic voice?
I read a lot of Chinese literature, from Pearl Buck to Ha Jin and I’ve been to China, so I had the voices in my head.
In your nonfiction work, Comfort, you use both second and first person. Is manipulating point of view in nonfiction different from in fiction?
I think second person is used when a topic is too painful. The you takes the place of the I, making it both removed and in your face simultaneously. I really love the impact of that in either genre.
Ann Hood was born in West Warwick, Rhode Island. She grew up with stories of her father’s travels around the world during his 20 years in the Navy. These stories inspired her to become a flight attendant for TWA after receiving her BA in English from the University of Rhode Island. She lived in Boston and St. Louis before moving to New York City, where she attended graduate school at NYU in American Literature. Her newest novel, The Obituary Writer, was published in February 2013.
One thought on “Ann Hood Talks Point of View”
I feel more comfortable writing in first person, although in my most recent short story the POV is from a 28 year old. I had to go back and salt my dialogue with a few F words. I imagined the protagonist was my oldest grandson… then it worked more easily. (from an 85 year old geezer) At what age do we become “elderly”?