Q&A: Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult
photo: @AdamBouska

There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state, some full-time, some part-time.  As the Director of the NH Center for the Book I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. This interview series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors here on Book Notes lets me share that experience a bit with my blog readers.    
If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?
Many people start with My Sister's Keeper or Nineteen Minutes.  But my books are all so different, I suggest reading the synopses to see which one catches your interest!

When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
Later than most people would imagine.  It was only about seven years ago, when my books started hitting the NYT list, that I really believed there were enough people out there who wanted to read what I wrote to keep me doing this for a living.

How did you end up living in NH?
My husband worked for a company that cleaned up toxic waste and Dartmouth was one of his clients.  He fell in love with Hanover and brought me there to look at it -- and the rest is history.  

Where do you like to write?
My office is in my attic, the third floor of my house.  I can write anywhere, but that's my preferred spot.

How important is place in your writing? 
One thing I'm told quite often is that because I reference New England in my fiction, it makes people who live here (or who LIVED here) feel like they're home.  That's such a nice compliment for me.  As a transplanted New Yorker, it makes me feel like I've been made an honorary New Englander.

What do you do when you aren't writing?
Spend time with my family.  I like to bake, kayak, paddleboard, and read.

What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given? 
"There's always someone better than you."  My mom used to tell me that, and it's kept me pretty humble!  As for writing advice, Mary Morris (my mentor) said that you can't write about the dinosaurs till they become oil.  Or in other words, if you want to draw from your own emotions and experiences in any way, you can't write about them while they're still too fresh.  They have to settle inside you, so that they can be processed into the lives of your characters.

What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?
 Life of Pi is a masterpiece -- a book about the reason we need fiction.  It's the one I wish I'd written. Gone With The Wind is the book that made me want to be a writer -- I remember seeing how Margaret Mitchell created a world out of words and I thought, "I can do that."

What are you working on now? 
I'm currently writing the sequel to the YA book I co-wrote with my daughter Samantha van Leer. In October 2014, I will publish Leaving Time, my next adult novel.

What do you want to share that I neglected to ask about?

You can learn more about Jodi Picoult's work at www.jodipicoult.com

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