5 Minutes With Jodi Picoult

The bestselling novelist, Jodi Picoult, is back with a compelling new novel, Small Great Things (Hodder), out on 22 November.

Small Great Things, in a nutshell? When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there’s no doubt who will be held responsible: the nurse banned from looking after him
 by his father. What the nurse, her lawyer and the father cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change their lives, as they explore race, privilege and power.

What was the inspiration behind it? I saw a news story about a black nurse who delivered the baby of a white supremacist – who then asked the hospital to remove her from his child’s care. The hospital made a note on the patient file, and a bunch of African-American workers banded together and won a lawsuit that suggested discrimination had occurred. It made me wonder what might happen if I pushed the envelope.

Plotter or plunger? Definitely a plotter. But having said that, my characters do sometimes act out of what I believe their characters to be, and then go their own way!

When do you do your research? Before. And I follow up on it during the writing if needs be.

Favourite place to write? My study at home. When I started, it was any place I could find the time.

Writing weakness? Chocolate.

What do you do if you’re blocked? I don’t believe in it. You can always edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page.

Favourite author? Alice Hoffman, because she makes writing look easy – and it never is.

Book you always recommend? The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, because unrequited love is the greatest story of all.

Secret vice? I’m a demon shopper.

Jodi Picoult will tour the UK from 21 November to 1 December.
 Find details at jodipicoult.co.uk

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