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Tuesdays at Two book club hosts author of novel with local connection

With a glass in their hands and food being served, the Tuesdays at Two book club probably doesn’t look much different from any other book club.

Author David Hood speaks to members of the Tuesdays at Two book club this week at the home of Shirley MacIntosh on Quarry Island.

But what sets it apart is their commitment to discussing the books they read.

“Some book clubs socialize more, but our group talks about books more than we socialize,” said member Lynne Sheridan.

She said the 15 members spend two hours together, and an hour and a half of that time is dedicated to the book.

Founded in 2007, Tuesdays at Two meets monthly and its members have read a wide variety of books – ranging from murder mysteries to classics and fiction to non-fiction.

Each year, they invite an author to attend one of their gatherings, and Sheridan said they’ve never been turned down, although one didn’t respond at all.

They’ve hosted Toronto’s Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke, Giller winner Joanna Skibsrud (The Sentimentalists), Sheldon Currie (The Glace Bay Miners Museum, Down the Coal Town Road, Two More Solitudes), Linda Little (Scotch River, Strong Hollow, Grist) and Cynthia Underwood Thayer (Strong for Potatoes, A Certain Slant of Light, A Brief Lunacy).

On Monday at the home of member Shirley MacIntosh on Quarry Island, David Hood was the latest guest author at the book club.

Hood, who teaches at a private high school in Singapore, accepted the invitation because he was planning to be home in Nova Scotia on vacation.

“If anybody will do you the honour of plowing through 300 pages of anything I write… and out of interest invite you to talk about it, why wouldn’t you go?”

The former Halifax historian has been asked to speak to classes about his non-fiction published works and about the history of the city before, but this was the first time he’s ever attended a book club as the featured guest.

His first novel, What Kills Good Men, blends fact with fiction. Set in 1899, the book tells the story of two policemen trying to solve the murder of a Halifax city councilman.

During the discussion, Sheridan commented that she had difficulty distinguishing what was real and what was fictional in the book, which Hood took as a compliment. He said that demonstrates that he’s done his job well.

He said all but a few of the characters in the book are based on real people, but he changed some names and changed some details of people’s lives.

“I tried to be as honest and true to that time period and those people. I tried to be true to the history, but in the end it is a fictional story.”

The idea for the novel stemmed from Hood’s past work as a social worker and a historian. “It made me wonder what the past looked like.”

He said the story is what he wanted to do for his doctoral dissertation on 19th century poverty, but that had to be written in an academic way. After completing that, the story “was still in my head.”

The book has a Pictou County connection, in that one of the purely fictional characters – rookie policeman Kenny Squire – attended Pictou Academy.

“In teaching and studying the history of the province, Pictou Academy pops up at different times,” said Hood, who chose this background for the character because it was a renowned school and he wanted him to be better educated than the average law enforcement officer. “I wanted to make him a bright character, and that lends credibility.”


About David Hood

• Grew up in Timberlea, just outside of Halifax

• Dropped out of school in Grade 11 and joined the Navy

• Served in the Navy for four years on a submarine

• Worked as a land surveyor and in hospital security

• Obtained degrees in social work, education, history and a PhD in history

• Has been employed as a social worker and a teacher

• Currently teaching in Singapore and working on second novel, set in Cambodia

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