Interview with Jodi PicoultDecember, 2009
SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
JP: Writer, mom, Wonder Woman. Not necessarily in order.
SS: What is your motto or maxim?
JP: Why do it when you can overdo it?
What Readers want to know...
SS: How would you describe perfect happiness?
JP: Doing something - anything - with all five members of my family. But if that's not possible I'll settle for a nice fire, a cup of hot chocolate, the puppy snuggled up against me, and my husband passing me sections of the Sunday paper.
SS: What’s your greatest fear?
JP: Losing the people I love.
SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
JP: Since it's snowing in NH -- on a beach.
SS: With whom in history do you most identify?
JP: Charles Dickens - he very cleverly got people talking about moral and social ethics through fictional characters.
SS: Which living person do you most admire?
JP: Oprah Winfrey. I think she manages to strike a perfect balance between making her fans feel comfortable with her, and making them more aware of the effect they can have on the world around them.
SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?
JP: My fifteen year old son, who just read Handle With Care, said I used "catch-22" at least ten times...
SS: What do you regret most?
JP: Not traveling around the world after college. I started working right away. I've gotten to see all corners of the globe thanks to my books - but I'm usually working too hard for it to be considered tourism!
SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
JP: Singing harmony. I can carry a tune, but even my good friend Ellen, who's an accomplished musician, had to admit that I am an a cappella group's worst nightmare.
SS: What is your greatest achievement?
JP: Raising three smart, caring, considerate kids who make me smile even when they are driving me crazy.
SS: What’s your greatest flaw?
JP: I'm a perfectionist, and I expect everyone to work as hard and as quickly as I do.
SS: What’s your best quality?
JP: I'm fiercely loyal.
SS: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
JP: I'd like to be reincarnated as our dog, Dudley. He sleeps all day, uses his looks to get out of trouble, and is universally beloved.
SS: What trait is most noticeable about you?
JP: My curly red hair.
SS: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
JP: I'd say it's a tie between Scout Finch and Elizabeth Bennett. They're both young women who aren't afraid to use their voices to stand up for what they believe. And hey, if that gets you Mr. Darcy in the long run, who's gonna complain?
SS: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
JP: Captain Hook! You just KNOW there's a backstory there, right? In fact, I wrote a kid's musical called HOOKED, which was all about how Peter Pan and James Hook came to hate each other, when Peter was a popular kid and James a nerd at Neverland High. Needless to say, it all had to do with a new girl at school, named Tink...!
SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
JP: Shakespeare. I'd treat him to a pint. He deserves it for coming up with the idea to make Romeo and Juliet's first verbal interaction to take the form of a sonnet.
SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?
JP: When you hear someone say "God bless the United States of America." Why just us???
SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
JP: I'm a big fan of baking - desserts, not bread.
SS: What’s your fantasy profession?
JP: Um...I'm living it!
SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
JP: Honesty, perseverance, and the ability to laugh at yourself.
SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
JP: I'm sorry...IS there a food group other than Chocolate?
SS: What are your 5 favorite songs?
JP: They change, but for right now: Taylor the Latte Boy (Kristen Chenoweth), Jesus, Etc. (Wilco), The Other End of the Telescope (Aimee Mann), Beautiful Life (Charlotte Martin). The fifth song is called Written in the Stars. It was a duet written by me and a friend of mine, Ellen Wilber, for our most recent original kids' musical, but it's very beautiful and ageless - it's about finding someone who "gets" you. If I can figure out a way to upload an audio link I will...
Questions About Books and Writing
SS: Who are your favorite authors?
JP: Alice Hoffman, Anita Shreve, Sue Miller, Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg, Chris Bohjalian, Jacqueline Mitchard, JoAnn Mapson.
SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
JP: The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway The Life of Pi - Martel The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald Gone with the Wind - Mitchell The Paper Bag Princess - Munsch (it's a children's book!)
SS: Is there a book you love to reread?
JP: No - I prefer reading something new!
SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
JP: Stop talking about it and JUST DO IT.
SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
JP: That they love how real my characters are, and that the books make them think after they're done reading. It's coincidentally also the comment I love to hear!
SS: What is your birthdate?
SS: What were your previous occupations?
JP: Wall Street Technical Writer, teacher (8th grade English), advertising copywriter.
SS: What was/is your favorite job?
SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?
JP: I went to Smithtown High School East, Princeton University for my undergraduate degree, and Harvard University for my M. Ed.
SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
JP: Aimee Mann.
SS: What is your favorite movie?
JP: Shakespeare in Love.
SS: What is your favorite television show?
JP: Grey's Anatomy and Lost - a tie.
Get more on Jodi Picoult at SimonandSchuster.com