Acclaimed author Jodi Picoult: up-close and personal!   Today Emma and I attended a book signing, reading and discussion sponsored by Books & Company, an independently-owned Oconomowoc book store.  The event started with a reading from her brand new book Lone Wolf.  She introduced the premise of the story and we got a behind the scenes peak at the exhaustive research involved in her writing process.  This time her research involved a trip to North Devon, England to meet Shaun Ellis, a British wolf behavior expert.  She shared stories of specific aspects of her wolf research and how the knowledge she gained was weaved into specific specific segments of her novel.  Fascinating!

Jodi described the seed for this book: it was planted 10 years ago as she engaged in an in-depth conversation with a physician on a plane.  The physician’s speciality is traumatic brain injuries and as the conversation ensued she discovered his work often involves supporting families facing the medical and ethical intersection of making decisions about how to care for loved ones suffering brain trauma.  At the conclusion of the plane conversation she promised him she would one day write a book on the topic and call for his insight.  Jodi shared that it was interesting to call this physician after ten years elapsed only to hear from him that he had followed her career and often wondered if she really would call!

Jodi said the book writing cycle goes something like this:  research for three months then write for nine months (yep, precisely nine months to give birth to the book!).

She fielded about a dozen questions from the audience. Of course someone asked about her reaction to the film version of My Sister’s Keeper.  Her one requirement was that the film’s ending remain true to the book.

I told her she is a rock-star author… I wanted to tell her something more meaningful but..

During the question and answer segment she shared that another book might make it to the big screen.  Ellen DeGeneres obtained the rights to Sing You Home. Ellen has an Oscar-winning actress in mind for the lead role.  She couldn’t share any additional details with us!

An audience member asked Jodi what she should do with her great idea for a book since she said she was not a “writer.” Jodi shared that she receives about 200 emails every day either asking this question or a similar question, “Will you write my book?”   Her advice to the audience member (and the 200 daily emails) goes something like this…

First she shared that she can’t write your story.  It is yours and needs to come from your heart and soul. If there is an urging, a nagging feeling about writing she suggested getting your idea out into the world!  Her first piece of advice:  don’t get intimidated about the thought of writing a 400-page book.   Break it down into tiny pieces.  The writing method she described was based on sewing a quilt.  She recommends that aspiring writers start with a sentence.  Just write!  Evolve your sentence into a paragraph and then continue to expand your writing segments.  Save each as a square piece of your quilt.  Keep creating, re-writing and evolving in tiny segments.  Eventually you will be able to weave them into your story!

What is next?  Jodi was excited to announce a book collaboration with her daughter, Sammy.   She said they spent school vacations and last summer break sitting side-by-side writing Between the Lines, a book about what happens when happily ever after…isn’t.  The idea for the book was Sammy’s and it hits bookshelves in June.  A summer book tour is planned but apparently there are no Wisconsin stops on that tour with Sammy – but she invited our Wisconsin audience to St. Louis, perhaps the nearest stop on that tour.  Between the Lines was described as a visual treasure with the most amazing illustrations.

Click here for future events sponsored by this clever and local treasure of a book store: Events!