OHS student meets famous author

Not many kids ask their parents to meet their favorite author for Christmas. However, when my mom told me that Jodi Picoult, my favorite author, was speaking in Lansing, I knew what I was asking for during the holiday season.

Sure enough, my mom handed me a big red bag with two Jodi Picoult books nestled inside- and a card that said we were going to meet her.

Ecstatic, I counted down the days to Dec. 9, the day Picoult came to Lansing.

Around ten that morning, my mom and I got in our car and headed through the snow to the Best Western Plus in Lansing.

Upon arriving, we waited in line at a table and got tickets, and went into the ballroom full of little old ladies with their coffee, glasses, and frosted hair.

My mom and I chose front row seats along the left, next to a sweet little woman named Sonya. While waiting for the lecture to begin, my mother and I sat and observed Crossword Man, who filled in crosswords the entire time, Stylus Lady, who played with a stylus on her phone, and Angry Lady, who frowned and stared at a wall. Then, my personal favorite was Betty, who seemed to know everyone and bounced around from seat to seat striking up conversation and laughing extremely loud.

After waiting for about half an hour, I took a walk to the lobby where I spotted Picoult sitting at a table, with a very short line of people waiting to meet her. I quickly grabbed my well-loved copy of My Sister’s Keeper, one of my favorite Picoult books, and jumped in line. I got an autograph and a photo, and went back to my seat next to Sonya, who was quite impressed.

After waiting a while longer, Picoult took the stage. I was excited, yet nervous because I did not know what to expect. My mom had warned me that though we loved her writing, her speaking might be completely different. However as soon as she began the lecture, we realized we had nothing to worry about.

The lecture was composed of three sections: the first was regarding the book Second Glance, the second regarding the book Nineteen Minutes, and the third was on her book The Storyteller. Picoult explained the extensive research and shadowing that went into the creation of each story.

The first story she discussed was Second Glance, a book dealing with the Vermont eugenics project in the 1920’s. Her research led her to the Indian tribes of Vermont, especially the Abenaki Tribes. She spent a significant amount of time learning their cultures and ways of life.

For the book she also met with and shadowed the ghost hunting team who are now known as Ghostbusters, and experienced supernatural life forces so she could add an element of spirits and other-worldliness to her storyline.

The next book she discussed was Nineteen Minutes, whose plot is about a school shooting and its aftermath on a town. During her research, Picoult met with families affected by school shootings, victims of school shootings, and even a school shooter to collect what she needed to tell her story. The book, which came out in 2006, was fueled by research from the Columbine shooting along with other shootings that had taken place. Her research took her to the Jefferson County Sheriff, who investigated Columbine, and to Minnesota, where she investigated and learned about the Ricori shootings.

The final section of her lecture was devoted to The Storyteller, a book with elements of the Holocaust and the 1930’s. The story called for Picoult to meet with survivors of the Holocaust and those affected by it. Through extensive interviews with those impacted, Picoult crafted a beautiful novel that arrived in 2013.

Overall the lecture with Jodi Picoult was informational and extremely interesting. The understanding that so much resesarch goes into fiction was incredible to me, and it is impressive how much work she puts in before she even starts the novel. The talk gave me a deeper perspective of Picoult’s books, and I cannot wait to read more of her work.