Note: Read more about Jodi Picoult and her paperback book launch of A SPARK OF LIGHT, in my previous blog post (10-02-19)
Jodi Picoult shared her writing process with us. She experiences a “moving visual”, scene by scene, and describes it as “like watching a movie”. She imagines her characters walking through a stream of water. They all wear Wellington boots. The stream represents the narrative of Jodi’s story, and the boots symbolize the voice of each character. Though they share the same stream of water and wear the same type of boots, every character feels different to Jodi, each catching the narrative at a different point in the stream.
Jodi Picoult also spoke about writer’s block, debunking it. “People who have writer’s block have extra time on their hands.” Her advice? “Just write. You can edit the back page but you can’t edit the blank page.” She acknowledged that publishing is hard work but the more we stick with it, the better we’ll do. She advised us to write something we truly believe in. Where does she get her story ideas? “From things that I can’t stop thinking about. There is no shortage of controversial topics to write about.” In A SPARK OF LIGHT, she spotlighted women’s reproductive rights, and in a future book she plans to write about transgender rights.
One audience member asked how Jodi keeps her heart from breaking when she researches topics for books with themes that center around agonizing issues. “I have a really cool life and I am able to draw a strong demarcation between my life and my characters’ lives. But I am as invested in my characters as my readers are. If my life were not great, I wouldn’t be able to escape heartbreak. I can walk on the dark side because I don’t have to live it.” What an honest answer.
“I have a really cool life and I am able to draw a strong demarcation between my life and my characters’ lives. But I am as invested in my characters as my readers are. If my life were not great, I wouldn’t be able to escape heartbreak. I can walk on the dark side because I don’t have to live it.”
Before the evening ended, Jodi spoke about THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS which she is currently writing. It is set to release in October 2020. Unlike most of her books, it is not issue-based. She describes it as a love story, a story of how to have a good death, a story of Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics, and a tale of linear and cyclical time.
My upcoming debut novel, THE FISH DRESS, also explores time and its multidimensional nature. Please remember to sign up for an advanced copy and to receive updates.
I leave you with a question Jodi Picoult raises in THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS: Who would you be if you had made one decision differently, that you took one tiny fork that led you down a completely different path; who would you be if you weren’t who you turned out to be?
Until next time,