Novelist Jodi Picoult Brings ‘A Spark Of Light’ to Long Island

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Best-selling author Jodi Picoult will be at the Landmark on Main in Port Washington, sharing her latest book, A Spark of Light. Long Island LitFest is presenting this October event.

Interviewed by phone at her New Hampshire home, Picoult, admitted she can be a workaholic and laughed when asked if she gets cranky when she doesn’t write for a few days. She talked about how much she adores her fans, how she can sometimes be brought to tears while writing her novels, and how you will never see her in a Starbucks typing on a laptop.

At the Landmark event, Picoult will be signing copies of her 25th book and will give her fans an opportunity to take a photo with her. Long Island native and critically acclaimed author Meg Wolitzer, whose latest novel is called The Female Persuasion, will be part of the festivities too.

The Press spoke with the widely popular author as she was gearing up for the book tour that kicks off this month and will take her all over the United States, Canada and the UK.

Did you ever imagine reaching this level of success? No. No one did. I would have been delighted to write books and have my mother and her friends read my books. I never expected to be successful this way.

I need to ask about your fans. You have such a huge following. My fans are awesome and they are devoted. They will pick up a book with my name on the cover without even knowing what it is about. A lot of writers don’t have that freedom. My books are about really tough topics. My readers are really willing to go wherever my brain is going at that particular moment and that is a freedom that is a delight that I never lose sight of.

Your novels address some difficult issues: teen suicide, gun violence, race. Can you tell us about that? A lot of people don’t want to talk about tough topics. It is uncomfortable. Fiction is a terrific vehicle for a contentious issue because when you pick up a book of fiction … you think you are reading about made-up characters and made-up situations and you are — but if I did my job right, by the time you finish the book you are asking yourself a lot of really hard questions and hopefully you are willing to have a conversation with someone about that difficult topic. That is really all I can hope for when I am writing a book.

Are you drawing from any of your own experiences? Where do you get your inspiration and ideas? I don’t really draw from my life. I have a really charmed and wonderful life. I am grateful I don’t live the life of my characters. I draw my inspiration from things I don’t understand and questions I am not able to answer. The act of writing the book for me should be the act of reading the book for the reader.

Is there any particular book you wrote that was more difficult to write than others? Small Great Things was hard for me on a personal level because I was learning a lot of things about myself that I did not find very complimentary. I thought I was a really good person. I thought I was not racist and I definitely had not acknowledged my privilege as a white person until I began to do the research for that book. I live my life very differently now because of the way that book really opened my eyes. On a professional level, A Spark of Light nearly killed me (she laughs). It was my idea to write the book backwards, but oh, my god, was that hard.

How was it growing up in Nesconset? Do you ever visit? I had a great time in suburbia and a great childhood and I’m very grateful for that. I don’t come back very often because my parents moved. If I come back it is usually for a book tour.

Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington, landmarkonmainstreet.org or longislandlitfest.org. $35. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2.