Jodi Picoult gives ‘The Facts Behind the Fiction’ at KSU Stark

Picoult Speaks to Stark Audience

Julia Adkins

Best-selling author Jodi Picoult gave away her biggest secret during her “The Facts Behind the Fiction” presentation at Kent State University at Stark Monday night, Feb. 24, at The University Center.

The audience clapped with excitement as Picoult walked into the room and onto the stage. But as soon as she started talking, the room was silent and in awe.  She began right away, going into detail about the precise moment in which she knew she wanted to be a writer, which was in the fourth grade when her teacher “gave her the world’s worst writing assignment,” to write what you did over summer break.  

“Like every other creative writing student, I’m sure the ones are told the same thing at Kent State, I was told, ‘Write what you know,’” Picoult said. “It didn’t take me long to realize that I knew absolutely nothing.”  

From there, she discussed how she learned that in order for her to write a story, she needed to write about something that she was willing to learn about because her experiences in life couldn’t make her a “tortured writer.”   That’s when she found the idea that in order for her to write creative stories, she needed to do some research.

While many authors of fiction novels do not research their topics before they delve into a book, Picoult, on the other hand, spends almost more time researching than writing the physical book, she said.  

“It takes me about nine months to write a book,” Picoult said. “And that’s from the time I come up with an idea to the time I finish the first draft.”

The three novels she presented her research in depth were “Second Glance,” “19 Minutes,” and “The Storyteller.”

The research she used for all three, as well as her other books, were life-changing experiences for her.  She said she knew that she would be learning new things but not that she would change her life because of the information she found.  

Many of her research experiences had large impacts on her personally, she said.  She remembers talking with her son, who at the time was terrified of ghosts, about how the ghosts really weren’t real but that she was packing to go ghost hunting anyways.  

By the end of her research she said,  “I left there feeling like there was a little more to this world than I believed.  I wasn’t particularly scared about it, but I was curious about it.”

By the end of her speech, the research she presented was astounding.  Audience member Courtney Lee, of Parma, said, “I thought her speech was amazing.”  

Lee said as an avid reader of Picoult’s books and novels “It was really nice to hear about the research and the stuff that she does while writing.”

One of the younger members of the audience, 12-year-old Julianna Lambert, said she was most excited to see Picoult because she loved her novel “My Sister’s Keeper.”  By the end of the night, Lambert was intrigued and had a wonderful time.  “I loved it, she was awesome and the part about ’19 minutes’ was just amazing,” she said while trying to find the perfect words to describe it.  

Kent State at Stark gave away 800 tickets to the event, while approximately 650 men and women, some even as young as 12 years old, attended.  The main room in which Picoult spoke was filled to capacity, with two other rooms filled with people considered as overflow who watched a projected version of the speech she was giving.

Contact Julia Adkins at [email protected].