STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.

Jodi Picoult: Creating Change Through Connection & Collaboration

October 11, 2021 Jodi Picoult: Collaboration & Creativity Season 4 Episode 19
STOPTIME: Live in the Moment.
Jodi Picoult: Creating Change Through Connection & Collaboration
Show Notes Transcript

In this intimate conversation Lisa speaks with NY Times best selling author  Jodi Picoult about her creative process, the importance of stewardship and her new passion for  collaboration and writing for the musical stage.   Jodi and collaborator playwright  Timothy Allen McDonald created the musical Breathe was  written in real time during the pandemic and also wrote a novel under quarantine. "Wish You Were Here" will be released in stores in November, 2021 and her musical adaptation of the book  "Between the Lines"  which she co-wrote with her daughter Samantha Vanleer arrives off-Broadway in June.

Brief Bio:
Jodi Picoult  is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels. Her books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four of her novels – have been made into television movies including My Sister’s Keeper starring Cameron Diaz. Her novel SMALL GREAT THINGS has been optioned for motion picture adaptation and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Her two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled “Between The Lines” which is expected to premiere Off-Broadway later this year. 

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Lisa Hopkins:

This is the stop time podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Hopkins and I'm here to engage you in thought provoking motivational conversations around practicing the art of living in the moment. I'm a certified life coach and I'm excited to dig deep and offer insights into embracing who we are and where we are at. So my next guest is the is the number one New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels her books have been translated into 34 languages in 35 countries for her novels have been made into television movies, including my sister's keeper starring camera Diaz, her novels, small great things has been optioned for motion picture adaptation, and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts, her two young adult novels between the lines and off off the page, co written with her daughter, Samantha vanleer have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical called between the lines which is expected to premiere Off Broadway later this year. We're going to talk a little bit about that and some other fun stuff. I'm so excited God to have you here on the show. Thanks so much for joining me.

Jodi Picoult:

Oh, it's nice to be here. Thanks for asking me

Lisa Hopkins:

if it's okay, I'd like to jump in just for a second with something that you wrote actually in the I came across it in the preface of the breathe, libretto. And for those listening who don't know, breathe is musical that was conceived and written by Jody and playwright Timothy Alan McDonald, during isolation as the world around us was changing before our eyes. God wrote, we wanted to memorialize how we were all experiencing the same fear and frustration and we wanted to do it on stage. After all, what's theater, but a person isolated in their own seat, having the same feelings as the person beside them, because of the performance they're watching? You capture that brilliantly.

Jodi Picoult:

You know, it's funny, as, as an artist, as a writer, almost as soon as the pandemic started, I was thinking, how are we going to memorialize this? How are we writers going to put this down on paper so that we, we, we categorize everything we've learned, we catalog it, and we don't forget, you know, and certainly theater has been the medium for a lot of massive world events that were devastating. And that shook us, you know, you look at something like Come From Away or you look at rent, all of those things, the normal heart were all written, you know, really to memorialize a tragedy, a great tragedy. And we were thinking Tim and I were to McDonald, I were thinking about this when we came home in March. The last one of the last things that I did in the real world before it all shut down, was go to the wedding of Ariel Jacobs. Ariel is a lovely Broadway performer who is attached to between the lines, and we will trip down to Mexico for her wedding. So I went with Tim and his husband and our director, Jeff Calhoun and his husband, and we were all seated at a table together, we had a lovely time, all of them came home with COVID. I am the only person who did not catch it, which is actually really good because I have asthma, and I don't think it would have gone well for me. But, you know, we all kind of came back. And after Tim recovered, we started talking about this, about how how we could make sense of what was going on. And almost immediately we sat down and we decided to things we wanted to employ as many people in the industry as humanly possible, because nobody was making money. And we really wanted to, we really wanted to, to tell a variety of stories, we kept seeing it like a suite of stories. And we sat down to write what started as four vignettes. And we looked at four different people who have to deal with the pandemic hit were affected different ways, their relationships, their health, their, their communities. And we wanted to really run the gamut based on what we were seeing and experiencing with our friends and other people, you know, that we knew. And so we began to write short stories, little short stories, where we sort of set up each of the vignettes that we were then going to turn into a musical vignette. As I said, we started with four of these. And somewhere in the middle of doing all this, George flood was murdered. And we really believed that the protests that erupted were very much tied into what was happening in the world in the pandemic. I think we were forced to have a racial reckoning that we have pushed aside way too often. Because when you're sitting there and the world has shut down, you can't help but look in that mirror and see things that maybe you didn't want to acknowledge. So we really wanted to add a vignette that included something about the Black Lives Matter movement and we also knew we were not the right riders for that and So we turn to Douglas Lyons, who I think said yes, within 10 seconds of being this and he and Ethan peck peck chart wrote this vignette that became the fifth vignette in brief. And so we then we had gone out to four different songwriting teams prior to that, plus Ethan and Douglas. So we had, we had five teams working on five different vignettes, Tim and I were writing the librettos for the four of them. And working with all of these collaborators was amazing and totally different, because everyone needed us in a different way. And the vignettes ranged from the sublime and the silly, to the rom com, to, to great tragedy, you know, the greatest loss of all, which would be the loss of a life. And as every time that we had a meeting, and this became more physically realized, we decided we didn't just want five songwriting teams, we also wanted to have five directors and we wanted Jeff Calhoun to be a supervising director for us, in addition to doing one of the pieces, then we started to think, how do you make this happen during a pandemic? And that is quite a challenge. When we workshopped it, which we realized we had to do, we actually had three rooms running at once, at the 92nd Street y. We COVID tested everyone who came into it. We asked for two actors in all in most cases, when we could two actors who were quarantined together, and each room had its own stage manager, its own music director, its own director, the two actors and all the creative zoomed in. Wow. And yeah, so it was like we were constantly trying to think outside the box to make it happen. And even when we actually filmed it for streaming, we filmed it at the 92nd Street y. The cast never met each other. In between each vignette, the entire theater had to be cleaned. And I was never there. I still had my asthma, I had no vaccine, I was stuck here in New Hampshire. So I, I watched the filming of that vehicle from a very weird sideways angle in a camera. Yeah, it was wild, it was really, really wild to do. But, you know, it's funny, I, I feel like during this pandemic, when it came to the theatre industry, people fell into two camps. And you could very quickly tell who was in which camp, the ones that were holding their hands over their head going, the sky is falling and burying themselves in the sand. Or the ones who said, Alright, now let's get to work. How do we do this? And I'm really proud of brief. I'm delighted by how beautifully it came out and how moving it was for so many people who saw it and wrote us to say that it was healing and really helped them make sense of 2020 including people who had lost family members during the pandemic, which was great. I'm even more proud that the Library of Congress reached out to us and asked to have breathe be part of their archives, which they are creating about artwork that was made during the pandemic. And I was like, oh, wow, that makes me feel like we actually accomplished exactly what we set out to do.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, that's amazing. I'm, I'm so curious about two things. One is one is you talked about that, those two camps which I totally get and from my perspective, as a coach, we talk about lenses, right? We talk about, you know, they all serve us at different times, right? So there's the victim lines, things are happening to us, you know, and we shift Yeah, shift up the ladder, depending on the circumstance, you know, circumstance and so I am super curious to ask you, you know, like, talk to me about that space between when stuff was happening when you were a victim because you were We were all victims. And when you when you put it into motion talk to me about that space.

Jodi Picoult:

They said that was terrible. I mean, you know, in this community, how hard it is to cross the finish line. Between the Lines is a project that we have been working on for seven years. Tim is our official book writer, but has been lovely about having that was how I learned how to write a libretto Actually, my work up between the lines with him. And we, my daughter, who wrote the the original novel, the source material with me, we've both been instrumental in in helping craft that libretto. We found this out the Songwriters. You know, we built that show from the ground up with the incredible assistance of Daryl Roth, who is amazing and who's believed in this project from day one. But we did are out of town in Kansas City. We paid our dues. And so we had really fought hard to get where we were and we finally had a spot at second stage that we were like, here we go. I had a room. I was already have moved to New York for six weeks, you know, during the rehearsal process. We were so excited. I literally had boxes packed With the stuff that I was taking to New York, and when the pandemic hit, I immediately reached out. I said to the Airbnb hosts, I'm gonna postpone this for a week. We thought, two weeks, it was two weeks at the beginning. And I obviously was not going to start rehearsals in New York as I thought I was going to a week later. And that two weeks grew and ballooned, and everything shut down. And eventually, one day, I had to call the Airbnb host and say, I'm not coming. And I have a charmed life. I have a husband, I love to death, I have three amazing, healthy children who are making the world a better place. I live in a beautiful area. Love My dogs. I mean, I've got it. All right. I've had success in my career. I can't tell you how hard I cried that day. Because that was a colossal loss, to be that close to a finish line. And to have something that no one had on their bingo card, make you lose, it was so hard for me to wrap my head around. I am the kind of person who gets stuff done. I do, I don't procrastinate. I make things happen. When I want them to happen. I engineer things and I work hard. And this was something I could fix. And that was really hard for me. And it felt like grieving. It took me many, many months to get over that. And you know, even though we were technically we were in hiatus, we were we were just you know, the plane was circling for us, we weren't dead yet. We also knew that second stage already had a season for 2021. And we weren't going to be part of it. And you know, we do actually have a future for between the lines, I can say that now officially tell you what it is because it hasn't been announced yet. But it's all good news. And yet, that was really, really hard. And that wasn't the only thing that I lost to because in addition to between the lines, Tim and I have adapted The Book Thief as a musical. And that is that was supposed to open in right outside of Manchester in the United Kingdom this year. Obviously, that did not happen. And it was all pushed another year. So you know, now I have I have things happening in 2022, allegedly. But to be totally honest, I'm very curious about how I'm going to mount a musical in the UK when I can't technically get there yet. We had a workshop a few weeks ago with my creative team in one space for the first time in two years. And our director was supposed to come from England couldn't come? Nope. We had 10 hours of days with her.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's it's so interesting. And it makes sense. Thank you for sharing that. Because I mean, those are specifics, but that's your life. So you know, no apologies necessary. I mean, those were huge things. And I love I love how you sort of, it's analogous to that the idea of not being able to make the finish line, especially someone like yourself, who always takes charge always takes the reins, you know, is aware of privilege is aware of all these things. And that must have been really tricky for you what what did you learn about yourself during that time,

Jodi Picoult:

I learned that it's okay to have a loss, you can't compare your loss to someone else's, I can tell you that during this pandemic, everybody lost something. Right. Now in some cases, it was a job. In some cases, it was a person. In my case, it was something that I had been looking forward to for almost a decade. For other people, it could have been a wedding, it could have been a job, it could have been a vacation. I mean, there's always everyone lost something. And whether you were three years old, or 18 years old, or 30 or 70. Yeah, we're all sacrificing something. Just because you didn't sacrifice the same thing as someone else did not mean you didn't feel it. So I first the first thing I learned was to give myself permission to grieve something. And also to recognize I'm talking about oversharing. But I travel a lot. You know, I'm on book tour, a lot of the year, I do research on site when I'm researching a book, I'm in New York, at least once a month, or I used to be in New York at least once a month for either publishing stuff or for stuff with a musical. And when, when this hit and I I literally stayed in my house for 15 months because of my asthma. I didn't go shopping i didn't i didn't go into a store for over 15 months. And my husband was so excited. He was like, Isn't this great? Isn't it great that we get to spend all this time together? And yes, it was great. I love him and I love being with him. But I was also very aware of what I wasn't doing. And so I think you know, I learned that I can give myself permission to be sad. And I also learned that when you're angry at the world, I think you have a choice. You have a choice to either remain angry at the world and I don't know, lash out on Twitter or do something that is ultimately not constructive. It might help you feel better in that moment. But you can also take that anger and say, What am I going to do with this? Because if you can't control one area of your life, you may be able to control another area. Hmm.

Lisa Hopkins:

Interesting. It's, you know, not surprising, you use the word control. You know, I mean, no, I love it, though. I love it, though, cuz you're very cognizant I can, I can feel that you're very cognizant of your superpower. And it's also your Achilles heel in a way, isn't it?

Jodi Picoult:

100%? No, it really is. I never expected to live through something that would, that I really had so little control over. So little, you know that that really still shakes me now. But you

Lisa Hopkins:

know what the coolest thing is? It really strikes me that since you are the "what if" queen, right? I mean, right? And you are the one that always asks, What if? That's your zone, right? That's where you live with with possibilities of stories. And and, and that's where your flow is. And so you are given a front row seat to a what if that you are out of control of. Right?

Jodi Picoult:

Yeah. And certainly writing Breathe was my way of manifesting control in some way of wrapping my head around it. And interestingly, the reason I called him and I was like, we need to do this in theater for the reason that you cited when you read, you know, that the part of what I wrote them in the libretto, but I, for me, it was also because I didn't know how to do it in a novel yet, I couldn't wrap my head around that. And you know, I do I love these two different types of writing that I do, I'd love it, they're so different. And when I'm working a lot with Tim on a show, and then I come back to my office to write a novel, I'm always like, Where is he? Why am I here alone, you know. And the collaboration in theater is what, what I am absolutely addicted to, because when you're a novelist, it's very solitary. So you know, I think that for me, writing brief helped me figure out how I was going to tell that story in a novel. And eventually, when we finished brief, that's what I did, I sat down and I wrote a book that I didn't think I was gonna write that I wasn't contracted to write that just, you know, I, I felt like I had to write. And, and I've always said, you know, in many ways, novels are therapy for the author. And that is "Wish You Were Here". And that's coming out in November, you know, and it's really again, it's my way of how to take a novel and wrap, wrap the pandemic, inside it in a way that hopefully leaves you as a reader, feeling. A little, maybe a little healing, and I think, understanding a little bit more about yourself and what you've learned, and what is important, that was what I think really mattered to me, the things that I thought were important, it turned out to not always be important. And the things that I didn't ascribe value to turned out to be very important.

Lisa Hopkins:

perspective, right? It's so interesting, because with BREATHE in a way, you know, you talk about the difference in your, you know, your readiness and your approach. Is that you you were a character in brief. I mean, you were living it you were, you know, you're creating a protagonist. Yeah, exactly. Whereas it makes sense that with, with this new with this new piece, which the wish we wish you were here, which sounds fantastic. By the way, it sounds like that gave you enough time. I don't know what the timeline of writing was. But to sort of, yeah, experience it like you did I know that I know, in your research that you go to prisons, you go everywhere to research. So you you had sort of lived in that isolation. Yeah, did this experience as an artist live the breathe experience? And then Jodi, the writer who does the what ifs was able to take that into a fictional new novel, right?

Jodi Picoult:

Yeah. And for me, that was what one of the things I loved the most about Breathe was that people would come to it from all walks of life. And they would be like, Oh, my god, that was Yes, that was my life. That that was what it was like, in my house at that moment. You know, and people could relate to if you couldn't relate to all five vignettes, you could relate to one of them. Absolutely. And I love that people could find themselves in it, and also find the things that we felt when we were writing it. We were writing it starting in like April, and there were things we already had forgotten for March, like we were washing our broccoli, you know, like, and we weren't wearing masks yet. And, and all the stuff that we have sort of already let fall by the wayside. We wanted to memorialize all that. So I do think that part of that, yes, was living through writing, breathing, and really creating those five different vignettes in five different scenarios. But also, when I turned to the novel, As I started to think about the pandemic, I did have to do research. And I wound up doing it all online. You know, I was doing zoom interviews and taping them and transcribing them. And I was talking to medical professionals who were on the front lines, and I was talking to people who had survived COVID. And after being hospitalized for a very long time, and I was actually shocked by that, because I decided I was going to go on social media and say, Okay, did you you know, did you have these symptoms? Were you hospitalized, I would say within 10 minutes, I had 200 responses, 10 minutes. And these were people who wanted to tell their story, because they said, We want people to know this is real, and we want them to know what we experienced.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, oh, my gosh, no. So, so, so important. Are there any "what ifs" in your life that you'd be willing to pursue, you know, in the story of your life?

Jodi Picoult:

You know, like I said, I've had a pretty charmed existence. I mean, the what if for me would be what if I hadn't stopped teaching a million years ago and didn't write for a living, you know, and it was really a nexus of affairs that led to that I was, I was married at the time, I was pregnant with my, my first son, I was working at a school district in Concord, Massachusetts, as a new English teacher. And they pink slipped all six new teachers the first day of classes, because they didn't have enough money in the budget next year. So we all knew we were gonna be fired at the end of the year. And I got pregnant. And I was like, Well, I guess I'm gonna leave and, you know, raise this kid. And I, when I left I, I was writing, you know, when, when my son was an infant, and he was asleep, and then my husband would come home from work, and he would watch baby and I would go right. And then I got pregnant again. And I kind of just kept doing that. And it was important because my husband could support us, you know, I didn't have to, I didn't have to go back to teaching right away, because it would have been a watch with daycare anyway, that I was able to do that I had that support. But there is a world in which I went back to teaching, and just became a really good English teacher. And I do think about that, I mean, I that was sort of a weird confluence of events that led me to be at home at a certain time working on a different, a different piece of my brain and a different craft. Yeah. Um, so I that's probably the biggest one if

Lisa Hopkins:

it's so cool. It stands out to me that, and again, no judgment whatsoever. It's just, you know, again, as a coach, I just listen, but it stands out to me that you went to the past, not future. It's funny, you know, like,

Jodi Picoult:

Yeah, right. That's true. But I like to think that I, I'd like to hope that my future is still, you know, fungible enough that I can make the things happen that I want to, I think that's the difference. Yeah,

Lisa Hopkins:

it's it's so interesting, isn't it? I mean, again, it's sort of speaks to your appreciation for the choices that you made for the people that supported you, you mentioned your husband, and, and all of that, I mean, and looking back and seeing the gifts and everything as you as you've done with the pandemic.

Jodi Picoult:

And I think the thing for me is like I, I became so addicted to working on musicals, because because as I said, of the collaboration and the fact that Tim and I have a great partnership as writers, and I love working with him, and I love working with songwriters, and I love that it's different every time. And I love the Janga of putting together a show. I love that when you pull one of one of the pieces out, everything else starts to crumble around you until you figure out a way to shore it back up again. I love being given a Lego set of a show and being told, take the entire thing apart and now make something else that people recognize because that's pretty much what a rewrite is. So for me, that kind of creativity is something that is so fun to me to tap into at this point in my life. I mean, I'm 55 years old, I could coast a little, but I really like this, I really like this and it's like this is my goal now Okay, I got the publishing thing. I got it. I feel confident in my publishing and my you know, my novels. I want to make sure that I'm writing something that people get to see in the theater. That's what I want to do next. That's just not done yet.

Lisa Hopkins:

Hey, um, how do you want to be remembered?

Jodi Picoult:

So, oh, this is a running joke in my family, with my daughter who is the writer, you know, and at one point, it said, but what I wanted to be remembered the way Charlotte Charlotte's Web is remembered. And she goes, good friend, better pic. And I was like, that was not the quote. She was a good writer. I did even better for But okay. So, um, I think that I will be remembered as a writer, which I think is great, because it's something I've worked very hard at my whole life. I hope I am also I hope that I'm remembered as someone who made have made people open their minds a little bit now. Because that's what I try to do when I approach a project. Why is it important to? Because that is how I think we change the world one mind at a time.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, absolutely. What do you know will be true about you, no matter what happens?

Jodi Picoult:

That's a good question. Um, I think that I will always try to do the best I can, at any given moment. And I think that's a kind of, that's an important lesson to learn. Because there are some moments you may not be at your very best. But you know, you're still giving it your all. I want to challenge myself in a way that keeps me fresh and keeps my material fresh. So I will constantly try to find a way to continue to learn challenge row at my craft, so that it becomes fresh and interesting to a reader.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, absolutely. And I mean, that comes across in each, you know, consecutive thing that you create 100% I have a word for you. Where I know what No, but seriously, what if? What if you couldn't write? What if suddenly writing wasn't a thing? What if you know it either? I don't know, there's two ways of thinking of one one would be that you knew it, and it was taken away from me and the other is just it doesn't exist. But whichever one sort of floats your boat what what if,

Jodi Picoult:

I mean? Well, writing is always going to be a thing, the thing that it might not be is a publishing thing. That I think is a very interesting question. Would you still write if nobody ever read it? And the answer is yes, writers write because they have to. It's a lot more gratifying. But you know, if you're not published, just look at the call yourself a writer, because you're doing the work. So I think I would still write, you know, you think about Salinger, who lived not that far from me who they found all his manuscripts in his garage, you know, that were never published, but he was still writing. So I would, I would keep writing, I actually, I have actually thought about this, like, I was in prison. And I didn't have access to a pencil. I don't know why my brain went here. Like, I would keep telling myself a story over and over and adding to it. So that I constantly had, you know, I had a thread of a story going somehow, like, I would just make myself remember it. And I think you can, you can be a storyteller, even if you never type or write or said anything to paper. So I think I would still be doing that. I mean, there's also a complete world where, you know, I am doing nothing except baking amazing bread. or becoming a pastry chef. Or just traveling to the places that I still want to go that I haven't been either, you know, cuz I love doing that.

Lisa Hopkins:

It's no, it's so true. I mean, storytelling obviously was, you know, it was an oral tradition for forever.

Jodi Picoult:

But that's the thing about creativity, it finds a new outlet. It's a little bit like a river, you know, with a tributary, if you dam up a river, it's gonna bleed out somewhere else.

Lisa Hopkins:

100%, what is your definition of living in the moment?

Jodi Picoult:

Um, I think it is being attuned to the world around you. But also being cognizant of the platform you have the podium you have and what you say, when you're standing at it. You know, I am, I am fortunate, I'm not at the beginning of my career anymore. I'm like, various, very entrenched. And I am very lucky to have people who seem to care what I say. And because of that, I think really hard about what stories I choose to tell and why I choose to tell them. And it's not even a novel, it can be a newsletter I send out, you know, I'm not, I'm not just going to send a newsletter for the sake of sending a newsletter, I'm going to talk about something that is important to me, in the hopes that again, maybe one person hears that, and, you know, and somehow thinks differently than they did when before they started reading the newsletter. And yeah, I think that kind of goes back to like doing the best that you can at any given moment. You know, when you have a place. When you have a place in this world, in this space in this world. What are you doing to make sure that when you leave it, it's better than the way You found it?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Would you call that if you had to, you know, sort of assign that to a value? Or, you know, a tenet of yours? What word would you use for that? stewardship? Hmm. Yeah.

Jodi Picoult:

You know, because I do think it's funny when I think of stewardship, like when I think that the people who are making the world a better place I think of like Greta toon Burg, you know, was doing amazing things with her little life and, and making people wake up and listen, and I think about, you know, the tireless advocates who work in Election Law of the people who are the people on the front lines, you know, who are in hospitals, risking their own health to treat COVID deniers, those those are people who are moving the needle of the world in a beautiful way. But I do think that you can be a steward of thought and opinion to in some ways, that's what I think artists are for.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, no, absolutely. Yeah. No, because art is something and we could go off on a tangent, you know, that we create that nobody knew they needed until it was, yeah, no.

Jodi Picoult:

Then you're like, Oh, my God, I didn't know I needed this. But oh, I did.

Lisa Hopkins:

Exactly. Those are the best, right? When they come back and say thank you, thank you. And you're like, what you're like I've to speak. But yeah. But

Jodi Picoult:

it's like I saw myself in that, you know, that idea, again, of literature of shows of music being both a window and a mirror takes you out, out somewhere and also allows you to see yourself in it.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Connection. Right. I mean, it's absolute connection. In coaching, we talk about Gremlins, the inner critic.

Unknown:

i've plenty of them..

Lisa Hopkins:

I'm so curious, though, because, you know, my whole sort of philosophy is that, you know, some people are like, I've got to get rid of that voice in my head. Well, that voice in your head was created to protect you at some point. And it did, it was very useful at some point. But what what voices in your head do you have? You'd like to recast their roles rewrite their script?

Jodi Picoult:

Um, I honestly, I think the voices in my head, but the ones I wish I could silence are the ones that listen to the outside critics. You know, like, for some reason, you can get 100 complimentary comments. And of course, what sticks out is the negative one. Yeah, you know, and part of part of my mission recently has been trying to explain to people when you send that tweet, when you post on someone's Facebook wall, and you tag an author in a negative review, they read it. Yeah, stop going into a void. They're human. Be aware of what you're doing, and whether what you're saying is constructive. Or whether what you're saying is just an opinion, which is totally fine. But then don't go to the person's Facebook page to tell them that you hated their book, you know, things like that. Yeah. So, um, I think I try. I do try to think about that. I, you know, you don't want to, you don't want to focus it getting a weird held loop where you're hearing the negative voices, because that's crippling and I think a lot of writers get debilitated by that. And you know, I would say in theater, it is very easy to be debilitated. You hear no, a lot more than you hear. Yes. And unfortunately, the tastemakers are very select. And they like a certain thing. I mean, you know, let's face it. Yeah. But there are a lot of ways to connect with audiences and to help audiences find joy or meaning. That may not be Ben Brantley or Jesse Greene's cup of tea. No, and that's okay. You know, you have to remember when you read a review, it's one person's opinion.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Well, it's interesting because it sounds like what the Gremlin is saying, I don't you tell me Is he or she saying, I told you so? Or you're not good enough? Or you better not? You better be careful. Is it more a cautionary

Jodi Picoult:

like, Whoa, see, you were right. I mean, what you write isn't what's going to win the awards? Get the nominations? Yeah, that's a whole that is another entire discussion. Commercial writing is a very different from literary writing. The books themselves do not have to be quite so different. It's all in how they're marketed and how their shelves and it's very arbitrary distinction. And you can have excellent commercial fiction and really terrible literary fiction. But excellent. Commercial fiction is not often given. Its due to that the gender discrimination and publishing. That's a whole different ball of wax where if a woman writes a book, it is considered a women's fiction, right? what they really mean is the woman wrote the book. I mean, you can call my books chicklit or women's fiction, it's very bad. chiclet because it's not very, you know, funny and uplifting. But in terms of women's fiction, 50% of my family comes from men. So I don't know what you want to tell them. But you know what, yeah. There's this Immediate default?

Lisa Hopkins:

No, for sure. I'm so curious. Are you more upset with yourself for taking that like, or are you more upset with the person for doing it? Like are you more upset that someone is using their voice not for good? Are you more upset that they said it about you?

Jodi Picoult:

I am more way more upset that they're not using their voice for good, way more. There were points during the pandemic, particularly with theatre critics who were panning productions that were being done online, which for God's sake, they kept theatre alive. They kept people connected to an entire media at my thought was, hi, excuse me. What are you doing to help your industry?

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah, absolutely. No,

Jodi Picoult:

I was like, you know, fine. You want you don't like what was created, you know, by some Theatre Company in Chicago, whatever. But you could give people just a tiny modicum of respect.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. Amazing. All right. Can you finish this phrase real quick? Most people think Jodi Picoult, dot, dot, dot, but the truth is Jodi ....

Jodi Picoult:

Oh, yeah. Most people think that I am really dark, and cerebral and angsty because of the things that I choose to write. And actually, I'm very bubbly. Very fun. And, and people are always shocked when they meet me face to face, because they think that I must be, you know, very serious and dark all the time. Because the topics that I choose to address, but I'm actually not like that, though.

Lisa Hopkins:

I'm going to say what makes you and I'm going to say a word and you just say the first thing that comes to mind. Take your time, it is not really rapid fire, but you know, it could be alright. So for instance, what makes you hungry?

Jodi Picoult:

Wow, I'm thinking this this time clocks because I tend to fast I don't eat before noon. So when I see the clock turn to 1130. I'm like, I'm hungry. Yes. Yeah. I just honestly, what makes me hungry is fasting.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's fair.

Jodi Picoult:

That's true.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's amazing. All right. What? What makes you sad?

Jodi Picoult:

Ah, right now America.

Lisa Hopkins:

What inspires you,

Jodi Picoult:

my kids? My kids inspire me, they are. Like I said, they are just in their own ways. They are making the world a much better place. And I sometimes I just step back with, you know, the gaze of an observer and think I would want to know them, even if I had created them. Yeah,

Lisa Hopkins:

yeah. You know what's cool about that, and you in the context of you and the way you work, and everything is that kids as we know, as mothers, you can't control.

Jodi Picoult:

So there's a point where you look back and go, Oh, all right, I did. Okay,

Lisa Hopkins:

what frustrates you,

Jodi Picoult:

frustrates me. what frustrates me is discrimination. In the fields, where I'm working really hard to climb mountains. Very often there are very real ceilings that exist because of race because of gender. I obviously do not feel the racial element of that. But there is gender discrimination. That's very strong in both publishing and in theater. Hmm.

Lisa Hopkins:

Oh, what makes you laugh? What makes

Jodi Picoult:

me laugh? Okay, what makes me laugh is a running stand up between my husband and one of our three dogs. Every morning, Alvin, Alvin needs to get a pill because he has arthritis. And my husband has done everything that he can feed him this pill. He has tried to bury the pill, if you know, every kind of adult food you could imagine. And he could smell it. And so he, he eats his way around this pill and spits it out just right at his feet every single day. And the best thing is that if I do it, he'll take it. There's a running standoff with my husband, and it's just it's so entertaining.

Lisa Hopkins:

That's amazing. What makes you angry.

Jodi Picoult:

I'm right now, people who won't get vaccinated, that makes me very angry.

Lisa Hopkins:

And finally, what makes you grateful?

Jodi Picoult:

What makes me grateful is Willie, it's going to come down to I think, my husband, I could not do what I do without him. He makes my life run so that I can really do everything else that I need to do. And that started at the very beginning when he was like, I was making zero money, but he was like you need to write so you should write. Not everyone gets that kind of partner and I'm very lucky to have that.

Lisa Hopkins:

Absolutely, yeah. If you could tell a 10 year old eight year old, Jody, something that you know, now that you didn't know, then that maybe she would have really liked to have heard or would have been helpful. What would you tell her?

Jodi Picoult:

Oh, you can make a living doing this? You know, because I didn't know any real writers. And my mom said, Yeah, that's great. You want to be a writer who's gonna support you. So it was it's very good for me to know that there are people out there who can make this work through and like any any career in the arts.

Lisa Hopkins:

Yeah. And that's very inspiring. I mean, that's, that would be great for people to hear, you know. And, you know, I'm not surprised that you're saying you exactly what you would tell them and everybody else that wants to listen, I listened last night to, to the speech you gave at Princeton at your alma mater. And I loved it. First of all, it really encompasses if anyone wants to get to know God a little bit more. Everything that you sort of touched on, right with students with all the web.

Jodi Picoult:

It's actually I love doing that speech. It was really an honor. And it was I I enjoyed writing it and delivering it.

Lisa Hopkins:

What are the top three things that have happened so far today?

Jodi Picoult:

Oh, well, I, first of all, I got an amazing night's sleep. I went to bed at seven o'clock. I did not feel well yesterday. I really needed I think I just needed to sleep. So I woke up feeling very refreshed. That was the first thing the second thing was that I had arranged to take a hike with a neighbor of mine. And we usually walk between six to eight miles together. But we decided we were going to do 10 This involves going past a construction zone with some very nasty people from the Department of Transportation, who made us literally climb a wall, a cliff wall to get past a bridge construction. They were terrible. We did it. And And the third thing was my husband texted me to say I'm making you an impossible burger for lunch. And I'm very excited about that.

Lisa Hopkins:

So I probably should let you go have that burger. I so appreciate you taking the time to be in the moment with me today.

Jodi Picoult:

Thank you really fun. Thank you for having me, Lisa. This was great.

Lisa Hopkins:

It was my pleasure, my pleasure. Go eat. In music stop time in that beautiful moment where the band is suspended and rhythmic unison, supporting the soloist to express their individuality. In the moment, I encourage you to take that time and create your own rhythm. Until next time, I'm Lisa Hopkins. Thanks for listening