Tonight I went to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to hear Jodi Picoult talking about her new book Lone Wolf. What were the first two things I learned
1. Jodi Picoult is tiny
2. She is a fabulous speaker
Did she howl like a wolf at the Mitchell?
She certainly did!
And she had the audience doing it too!
She spoke for a enthusiastically about her research for this book. She spent a long time interviewing Shaun Ellis, a UK man who has lived with wolves. He taught her about pack behaviour, Alphas, Betas and Omegas and, how to howl like a wolf. And she picked three audience volunteers to help demonstrate this!
She also read a passage from her new book Lone Wolf about a brother and sister trying to decide whether their comatose father should live or die. The connection with wolves? Their father had spent a year living with a pack of wolves. He was a larger than life character, who is now trapped in a hospital bed hooked up to machines.
Jodi's not afraid to tackle the hard subjects in her books - indeed, that's what she's famous for. She answered a number of audience questions too.
On the film ending to Her Sister's Keeper - she likened it to a child growing up well and living a good life and another child growing up and deciding to be a prostitute. She learned a lot about selling book rights. When she sold the book, she spoke to the producers about the importance of the ending. When a director was picked, she spoke to him about the importance of not changing the ending - he agreed, he'd read the book. Then one day, someone emailed her and asked her what she thought about the ending of her book being changed in the film. Up until that point, the director had been on the phone to her every week, he'd always told her if he made any changes he'd let her know. Instead, he stopped taking her calls. When she went down to the film set - she was thrown off the set. And overall - she's glad the film with the poor ending didn't do that well.
I can remember the collective gasp in the audience when I sent to see that film. The lights went up and everyone was frozen in their seats saying - WHAT? !!!!!!
On Sing You Home her book on gay rights. She's had more hate mail for that book than all her others put together. Very sad as Jodi as a son who is gay and very supportive of him.
On writing in multiple points of view - she does this to challenge the reader. To prod them, so to speak on why they believe certain things. To show all sides of the story. When she first read a newspaper story about parents suing in the US after having a disabled child, saying if they'd known they would have aborted the child, she was horrified and thought it was a disgusitng attitude. Then she wondered why she thought that. That thought became Handle with Care, her book about a child with brittle bone disease. In the US medical costs are exceptional, in order to care for a child with special needs some parents have to resort to measures others would find distasteful. That includes suing their medical team for money that can be used to help support their child.
On which book was her favourite to write - Second Glance because of the research she got to do on paranormal activities!
On what she reads for pleasure - Alice Hoffman.
Jodi was an excellent speaker. She also has a second book out this year which she co-wrote with her daughter. It's a teenage book called Between the Lines.
Now I'm off to read Lone Wolf............