Robin Wynne, one of our members, tells us about her evening with Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer……
I was lucky to have the chance to go to a Q & A session with the bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer. This was at the News Building at London Bridge last week. She and her daughter are marketing their second novel which they have written together, Off the Page.
I have not read any of Picoult’s books, including this most recent offering, so I did not know how much I would take from the Q & A. I will admit that the entire evening impressed me from start to finish, irrespective of the content of the Q & A! We were ushered up to the 14th floor, and were greeted with a free bar in the rather glamorous confines of the large open space, with floor to ceiling windows. These overlooked St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, and the Thames glistening in the early evening sun.
I was interested to find out that Jodi is American, and as she and her daughter sat down in front of us (there were probably no more than eighty people there), I was also pleased to see that they both appeared to be very normal (I guess I had been expecting an air of celebrity about them of which there was none).
They began by Jodi introducing herself and her daughter, and explaining that they would read excerpts from the book and then open the floor for questions. I did not anticipate asking any, in view of the fact that I didn’t know her as an author, although the intention was there should I think of anything as the evening progressed.
The book enchanted me in that it is very different to what I understand Jodi’s adult books to be like. Off the Page is for young adults, and seems to have a good story, and an interesting tone. Samantha read one excerpt and then a young man read another excerpt which was from the point of view of one of the characters of the book (he was dressed in appropriate costume as well – a fairy tale prince!). As the questions began, it was clear that there were some serious fans of Picoult in the audience, a lot were American, and she and her daughter answered with light banter and honesty. They gave great insight into how they worked together, and how the books they had written together had come about, as well as how they differed from Picoult’s adult novels. I found them inspiring, and entertaining, and it was easy to ask the question I eventually did, which was, did they ever self edit, and how difficult did they think this was – I did preface it with the fact that I am an aspiring writer, trying not to spend money (on an editor), before I make any!!
The answer was thoughtful, and not a short reply, but the gist was as I would expect…you can never accomplish the same polish yourself as you can with an editor.
So, I guess I had better start saving!!