Posted: 26 Nov 2016
An Audience with Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is one of modern fiction’s best-selling authors. Her 23 novels have sold over 40 million copies, with the last eight debuting at Number 1 in the New York Times best-sellers lists. Two days after the UK launch she was at The Sage to promote her new book ‘Small Great Things’.
Picoult’s formula is to take a really serious subject and tackle it head-on in a direct, fast–paced style which grabs the reader in a ‘I must know what happened next’ page-turning grip.
Her talk at The Sage took the same approach. Striding onto the stage resplendent in a blazing blue dress Picoult provided the briefest of welcomes and introductions, launching straight into reading an extended extract from the beginning of the new novel. Undaunted by an occasional cough which she barely broke breath for, the author rattled through her first few pages as if she had a train to catch.
Perhaps she did. Following the reading she launched into a lecture about the dangers of racism – the subject of ‘Small Great Things’, where the premise is a white supremacist doesn’t want his baby looked after by an Afro-American nurse – and then there was the opportunity for questions.
Around 300 to 400 people had turned out on a cold night to listen to Jodi and they had plenty of questions but just under an hour after Picoult’s swishing entrance a staff member appeared to say ‘Just one more question’.
No one could complain about being short-changed as the £21.50 admission price included a signed hardback copy of the new book and there was the invitation to have your picture taken with Picoult in the foyer. I didn’t want a photo but was intrigued to know how many of the selfie-generation would line up. There must have been at least 100 people in the queue but Picoult – to her credit – had a formula for that too: have your camera ready and the flash turned off. She whizzed through the first few like a till operator about to go off shift and I daresay by the time I’d left the car park that queue would have disappeared.
My better half is already half way through the chunky novel less than 24 hours after the talk and that’s the proof of Picoult’s pudding; she has the knack of making something that could be stodgy go down more easily. Why not try some yourself?