Meet the Writers – Jodi Picoult

Meet the Writers - Jodi Picoult



it's meet the writers on barnesandnoble.com I'm Steve Bertrand Jody Pico has a plan she wants to confront you with some of life's toughest questions not in a newspaper or in a magazine but in fiction in a novel and she's done it again with handle with care Jody Pico welcome thank you so tell me about this idea of confronting your reader and the idea of maybe some of these questions are easier studied in fiction I'd love to say I invented it but I'd be totally lying um I think the idea of moral and ethical fiction really began a long time ago and you look at someone like Austin or Dickens and they were popular commercial writers of their time who would get readers hooked on character and plot and then after the last page has turned the reader winds up thinking about some bigger issues and and I do think that it's a lot easier to address those issues than fiction sometimes they give you almost a little shoehorn so that you can start talking about them you think that your readers are drawn to you because of the stories or because of the issues I think it's the stories I mean I really don't think anyone ever walks into a bookstore and says can I have the latest novel about the sexual molestation of children by priests you know I mean they're tough issues but I think that the way they're written in in the the eyes and the ears and the voices of real families you can relate to them and so they don't seem quite so far out when you pick up the book I suppose I was a bit of an odd question because obviously it's the stories but it is a particular type of fiction to that I think people are drawn to yeah and you know it's funny I don't think people have been drawn to it the whole time I've been writing I really had to develop a fan base over almost 20 years now of writing fiction but I think that the stories kept people coming back and and they tell two friends you know oh I read this book and it's not like anything I've ever read before and it was great you should read it there's a story about was an economic downturn led to your writing career right yeah actually in the midst of I know it's like we've come full-circle huh um I actually was working on Wall Street in 1987 when the stock market crashed I don't know what I was doing there I can't even balance my book but I was working at Salomon Brothers and I knew I was gonna get a great severance package and I did and I moved to Massachusetts where the guy I was dating was living good move I married him worked out pretty well and I had a bunch of jobs over a two-year period um I worked as a text book editor at an advertising agency writing copy I taught creative writing at a private school and got a masters at Harvard and taught eighth grade English at a public school got married got pregnant and that whole time I was writing and it was during that time that I got an agent and she wound up selling my first novel just around the time my first son was born not bad timing yeah it worked out very well and also writers they say in order to write their stories and tell stories need to have suffered during their childhood or their adulthood and what's with you I don't know I had this really happy life that I kid and and now I have this incredibly charmed life and I have great kids I have this really handsome terrific husband and you know I really I'm lucky I'm one of the really really lucky ones but I think that I couldn't write what I write about if I didn't have that safety net you know I can write about these tragic situations these families that are falling apart these horrible medical situations and bad things that happen to children because at the end of the day I get to go downstairs and be normal so if you were in a rough spot your fiction might be different yeah yeah I think would be totally different but there still would be fiction I think so I mean you couldn't not be a writer no I really believed that I would be writing even if no one read anything that I wrote but it's much more gratifying this way yeah I talked a little bit about the stories tell me about your characters because you've said that your characters arrived to you hole they do it I always think of Athena springing out of Zeus's forehead but I don't feel like I create character I feel like they they just arrive and usually it's their voices I can hear them and I've always kind of thought that writing is a little like schizophrenia except I get paid to hear the voices and and they talked to me they have very distinct likes and dislikes and problems and issues and I feel like my job is just to sit down and write down what they're saying to me I don't feel as if I have a hand in creating the characters because they arrive what I do is give them a situation to walk to pick up on the shoulders and to develop into a book and so in handle with cares this character Charlotte great who is the perfect sort of character to write right I mean she has she wants to do the right thing yeah she's she's what I like to call one of my blind her moms you know a mom who has blinders on can't see the big picture but is so totally convinced that she's doing the right thing for her child that she can't see all the wrong she's also doing and in the wrong I mean there's this wrongful birth lawsuit which I've not heard about but they exist they do exist and about half the states in America if you wind up having a severely disabled child you might be able to sue your obstetrician for wrongful birth with the implication that they should have told you in advance your child was going to be impaired and then you stand up on the witness stand and you say if I'd known this I would have terminated the pregnancy and many people get millions of dollars in payouts because of it now the parents I met who have sued for wrongful birth none of them actually ever wanted to terminate a pregnancy they love these kids but it costs a lot to raise a disabled child in America and insurance doesn't pay for it and so there is that moment of drama though of actually saying I wish my child had not been born and there's a difference for me between having a mentally disabled child who doesn't understand what you're saying and having a child like willow O'Keefe in the book who has severe physical disabilities but mentally is a really smart cookie even ahead of the game exactly you've mentioned cookies they're recipes in this book nice segue have you done that before no recipes but what's interesting to me is that there's a language to the recipes right explain that the recipes are all centered around a particular baking term like for example weeping or hardball or blanking on some other ones but the idea is that that you are you're given a term that has a double entendre meaning and where it's inserted in the text has to do with what's going on in the rest of the story so for example at the hardball stage you think about somebody playing hardball not willing to give up in an argument and the recipe is for a type of candy and that's what the hardball stage is all about Canton candy making however it also happens to be a place in the text where Charlotte and Sean her husband are at loggerheads over the lawsuit and one of them has to blink you said it's the saddest book you've ever written yes yeah is it hard to write a set I mean is it hard for you emotionally to write a sad book yeah it is it's hard for me to write it's not hard to write a sad book but I think it's hard to write one that doesn't leave you with a little glimmer of hope and this to me there's an irony at the end of this book and that's what keeps it from being particularly hopeful it's more like a cautionary tale let's talk gestation a little bit you said your first book came out when your first child was born right and you also say in interviews that it takes you 9 months to write a book yeah well nowadays when I finished a book my husband gets me a balloon that says congratulations on the new arrival yeah yeah I don't know why I mean I think it started off just taking me about nine months to research and do the first draft of the book and now when I'm touring for about three months of the year it just fits in very naturally it works and you're one of those writers who doesn't have a hard time you've already got a couple yeah working and I do the 2010 book is at the publisher and I'm doing the research now for two thousand is it ever struggle not yet no sisters keeper yes coming out as AM it is June 26 not traversée there right well you know it's not so much a big controversy if you know the business the endings different the ending is different in the movie right and you know if you sell the rights from a book to movie you have nothing to do with the movie I think people are always really shocked to hear that they don't use the author as a resource but that's the exception not the rule and you know although I really do feel that the ending sort of gives you the whole message of that particular book it's disappointing that they changed it but I'm really looking forward to judging the movie as a movie as its own entity I know the acting is really good I've seen some of it on set I know that there's a lot in the script that is lifted directly from the book so I think people who read the book will be pretty pleased with you know 95% of what do you think will have a harder time with it the books creator or the books readers uh the books readers yeah yeah you know I I had to make peace with it and it's gonna be harder for the really diehard fans of the book I love them all because they're so fiercely loyal to the story but the best thing about a book to movie transition is that you can always come home from the theater and reread the book I was going to say any good news is there'll be another one soon at the bookstore yeah you know it never changes the book never changes Jody Pico nice to talk to you thank you I'm Steve Bertrand this is meet the writers I'm Barnes and noble.com

27 Comments

  • apope06 says:

    i read 19 minutes and found myself siding with the school shooter rather than the victims. her ability to make characters real and likable is remarkable.

  • Julia Twamley says:

    she's so funny. she's the kind of person i would love to chat over lunch with

  • BrysonRants says:

    No pun intended! They say Jodi Picoult is like Stephen King only not scary at all.

  • Olivia Giles says:

    I hated my sisters keeper, the end completely threw me. I threw the book across the room. If jodi was there I would have 'Misery-ed' on her ass.

  • genimsaj says:

    This woman is flawless in her writing skills. Amazing talent. She's one of those who's going down in History, for sure.

  • harmfulsweetz says:

    @FlowerFuzz I love the book, and the film. I felt the film's ending was better and more fitting than the book.

  • Kimberly Casella says:

    @FlowerFuzz I 100% agreed! However, i did enjoy the movie. But they shouldve kept the book.

  • Kimberly Casella says:

    @MarisaRocksOut Whats it about. I practically have My Sisters Keeper memorized loll

  • Marisa Ross says:

    @FlowerFuzz If you liked My Sisters Keeper then you HAVE to read Perfect Match. It is amazing.

  • Iloveorliandwicked says:

    As a really young teenager, it's very VERY difficult to find good books that aren't too childish or too old for me. Picoult's books are PERFECT!

  • Lozzzaaa55 says:

    I loved Nineteen Minutes & Plain Truth & My Sisters Keeper!! 🙂

  • Nikki Holly says:

    I dont understand why they changed the movie ending as the ending in the book is the whole message of the story.

  • Abi Peel says:

    You all keep mentioning handle with care, not read that one, any good? My favourates are vanishing acts, the pact, plain truth, and perfect match. Especially perfect match, just finished it for the 6th time haha

  • Lupe Longoria says:

    @rszir
    ha. yea. now i just actually started Handle With Care.
    It's already great.

  • Rhea Thomson says:

    I finished it in just about 5 days…on to Nineteen Minutes

  • Lupe Longoria says:

    @rszir
    That It Is!!
    It's A Must Read,
    And Kept Me Turning The Whole Book!

  • Rhea Thomson says:

    I just started reading House Rules and its amazing!!

  • Christopher Lawson says:

    I <3 Jodi! 🙂

  • Jasmine Tamara says:

    she looks skinnier on her books. i love handle with care, my sisters keeper and keeping faith!

  • Zara Khan says:

    i absolutly loved handle with care!!!

  • MyEyesOnYou says:

    i love my sister's keeper, i also like nineteen minutes, they both are really powerful

  • ParadiseIsDying says:

    Keeping Faith was my favourite book of hers. I think it will stick with me forever.

  • abcdef f says:

    the pact was the first one i read & i loved it i couldn't put it down. i just got done reading change of heart & that book was really good too but i would have to say my favorite would have been nineteen minutes. that book is probably the most amazing book i've ever/i'll ever read

  • Patrick Hukins says:

    Jodi Picoult's books are soo amazing!!! You learn something from every book. You'll find yourself by the en of one of her books that you've either cried over the book or connected and can relate to the story. Keep writing Jodi!!!

  • Nicole Carr says:

    hah yeahh, i live in detroit michigan and she never comes!!i have been readin all her books for 2 years and every she never comes here.

    but i hated the movie "the thenth circle"

  • Iamso4u says:

    great interview. I'm sad they've changed the ending.

  • Mark Thornton says:

    Interesting interview – particularly about her experiences with the new film. It must be hard for an author to watch her creation be put through the film-making mangle with the numerous compromises that get made along the way. I wonder how her die-hard fans will react when it comes out?

    Looking forward to her coming to the UK in May for her Handle With Care tour. If you live in and around Oxfordshire/ Berkshire, Jodi'll be signing at the Mostly Books bookshop in Abingdon on May 1st at 5.30pm.

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