Photograph by Adam Bouska
A year ago I interviewed Jodi Picoult for the launch of my new website. As I’ve just moved to New Hampshire, her home state, I thought it would be fun to re-issue the interview. Enjoy!
It’s a complete thrill to launch my website with an interview with Jodi Picoult.
Jodi is one of my heroes, a writer who straddles commercial and literary fiction, who writes well and has a wide appeal. Above all, she is a writer who loves and respects her readers.
You should have seen me when I first met Jodi a few years ago. I invited her to speak to the girls at Downe House, the boarding school where I was working. I went all tongue-tied and nervous and made a real mess of telling her how wonderful I thought she was! This year I had the joy of seeing her again with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, at Reading Waterstones where I launched What Milo Saw – big spine tingle moment! I took Tennessee, my one year old, with me, so it was a real mother and daughter moment. (My lovely Hugh came too to take a picture). I couldn’t think of anything more awesome than writing a novel with Tennessee one day.
Picoult describes herself as an ‘ethical writer’, a tag I share: she writes great stories with great characters, rooted in family life, and then tackles huge moral dilemmas in a wise and thoughtful way. I’ve read everything by Picoult but my favourite is her first novel: Songs of the Humpback Whale. She continues to teach me so much. I know she’ll inspire you too.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
What do you love most about writing?
Getting to choose the world I live in for a while.
What do you find hardest about writing?
Amazon and Goodreads reviewers who are just plain nasty.
What kind of child were you?
Where’s your favourite place in the whole world?
My lake house.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
I start early.
What book do you wish you’d written?
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment to date?
Sending an email out about a producer I hated to that producer, instead of to my agent.
Do you have any writing tics that you’re forever editing out?
What’s your greatest fear?
Losing people I love.
What are you reading at the moment?
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Fenway.
What song would you like to be played at your funeral?
No clue but I want fireworks.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Do what you love.
Which writer do you most admire?
Do you have a favourite snack you turn to when you’re writing?
What inspires you?
What’s your most treasured possession?
My four dogs!
When were you happiest?
What keeps you awake at night?
The things I write about.
What three tips would you give aspiring novelists?
- Take a workshop writing course.
- Write every day.
- Read read read.