How did you become a writer?
I have been writing since I was five and wrote a book called the Lobster That Was Misunderstood. I had a ton of teachers who recognized I liked to write, and encouraged it. I applied to Princeton and was accepted into their creative writing program, where I had a mentor, Mary Morris, who really taught me everything I know. My first book was published when I was 25.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Mary Morris, as listed above. And believe it or not, Hemingway, for his economy of language. Also F. Scott Fitzgerald. He taught me the joy of using an unreliable narrator…and I lived in the same room he did when he was at Princeton.
When and where do you write?
Five days a week, in my office, which is the attic of my home.
What are you working on now?
I am getting ready for a grueling three month international book tour so I am not actively writing fiction. However, I’m helping to adapt Between the Lines as a Broadway musical.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I started writing when I had babies, and the only time I had to write was when they were asleep or watching Barney on TV. I learned to write in fifteen-minute bursts. If you have time, you have writer’s block. If you don’t, you WRITE.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Take a fiction writing workshop course. It will help you create on demand and learn to give and receive criticism. Read – a ton – so that you figure out where your work fits into the literary canon. And most importantly when you start something and decide halfway through you hate it, don’t abandon it. Force yourself to finish. THEN decide if you want to get rid of it or fix it. If you scrap it before you’re done, you’ll never believe you can finish anything you write.
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three novels, including Leaving Time, The Storyteller, My Sister’s Keeper, and Nineteen Minutes, and two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer. Acclaimed as “a skilled wordsmith . . . who beautifully creates situations that not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe), Picoult delivers her most timely novel to date with Small Great Things, which will be published as a Ballantine hardcover on October 11, 2016. Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.