Bari Eve Wood was born in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1936, grew up in and around Chicago, and graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with a degree in English. She moved to New York in 1967, where she first worked in the library of the American Cancer Society, later as editor of the society's publication, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and of the medical journal Drug Therapy. In the early 1970s she began writing fiction.
She was married to Dr. Gilbert Congdon Wood (b. 1915 – d. 2000), a biologist for the American Cancer Society. In 1981 they moved to a farmhouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut. In 2008, she married Dennis Preston Kazee and moved to Lansing, Michigan.
Bari Wood wrote her first novel, Killing Gift, in 1975. Followed by 'Twins,' with Jack Geasland in 1977; in 1988 the novel was adapted into a film under the title Dead Ringers with Jeremy Irons in the eponymous lead roles. The novel The Killing Gift, published in 1975, won the Putnam Prize for high-quality novels.