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CONNECT THE WORLD

Interview with Jodi Picoult

Aired May 12, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jodi Picoult is one of modern America's most well known authors. With books such as "Nineteen Minutes" and "Change of Heart," she's endeared herself to women around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MY SISTER'S KEEPER")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't mind my disease killing me, but it's killing my family, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Her 2004 book, "My Sister's Keeper," was even made into a top grossing film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MY SISTER'S KEEPER")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: For many of Picoult's novels, the story tugs at the heart strings, as it traces the painful journeys of families trying to reconcile itself with disease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MY SISTER'S KEEPER")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know I'll be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

ANDERSON: This month, the best-selling author has published her seventeenth novel, "House Rules." A storyteller with a loyal following, Jodi Picoult is your Connector of the Day.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: She is. And she had some stories to tell when I caught up with her a little earlier.

And I began by asking her why she has chosen to write this time about autism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JODI PICOULT, AUTHOR: I really wanted to focus on autism for two reasons. The first is because I have a cousin with autism. He's profoundly autistic. And I have very strong memories of him being young and having a meltdown in a public place and my aunt having to restrain him or sit on him and having the police called on her for allegations of child abuse. And, of course, now, my cousin is much older. He's 30. He lives in a group home. He's about 225 pounds. And when he gets frustrated now, he can put his hand through a wall or a window. And when the police come, they don't know how to interrogate him and he doesn't know how to explain why he's been frustrated.

You really see that communication breakdown.

The second reason to write about it is because one out of 100 kids right now is diagnosed on the autism spectrum, which means this is a concern that a lot of parents have, that their kids might have a run-in with the law.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff. And I had no idea.

Jurgen has written to us. He says: "Why did you call the book, "House Rules?""

PICOULT: Actually, it's a funny question. It took me a long time to come up with a name for that. And if you read the book, you'll see that Jacob, the main character, refers very often to the house rules that he has to abide by. One of the things that are very important to kids on the autism spectrum are routines and rules. And you don't deviate from them, you don't mess with them. And so the "House Rules" refer to those rules.

ANDERSON: Sara has written in. She says: "I'm a great fan of your books and I wonder, was there one writing experience that you enjoyed above the rest?"

PICOULT: Probably it was writing "Second Glance," which, incidentally, was also the most complicated writing experience. It's a very technically difficult book.

But the reason that it was so much fun for me is because it contains characters I know you've never seen in fiction. It covers a period of time in American history that very few people know about, when we were in the business of racial hygiene prior to Hitler.

And -- and it had some of the best research I've ever done associated with it. I got to go out ghost hunting and see things I thought I'd never see. So for all of those reasons, it was a lot of fun.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about another one. Rumana and referring to the fact that your book, "My Sister's Keeper," was made into a movie. She asks: "Will you be looking to have further books turned into films after that experience?"

PICOULT: It was a challenging experience because, of course, the book was very different from the way the movie came out, in particular, the ending of the movie. I was very disappointed in the fact that the original ending of the book was not kept, because it really changed the message of the story.

But that said, the reason that you sell the rights to the movie is they're not because you expect to see an accurate representation, but because you want to find readers who you might not normally have, because they are watching movies or TV.

And in that sense, the movie was a terrific success. I've heard from hundreds of people who said, well, I've never read you before, but after the movie, I've now read "My Sister's Keeper" and everything you've written, so what are you going to do next?

So I definitely would do it again.

ANDERSON: All right. So good stuff. And perhaps that begs the next question from Erewa Mene from Nigeria. One question: "If you faced -- if you were faced with a scenario in life where all you could do is write one more book, what would you write about?"

PICOULT: Oh my gosh. I -- I don't know, because it really would depend on what was keeping me up at night when it was thinking about writing it. There are so many issues in this world that I could cover that there's -- there's no shortage of controversy in the world. But for me, it has to strike me in a particular way at a particular time.

ANDERSON: A question from Sara: "Can you also give me a hint of what type of novel we should expect next?"

PICOULT: Well, the next book is called "Sing You Home." It will come out in 2011. And it is about gay rights in America and embryo donation. And it really takes a look at whether gay rights is a political issue or whether it's a personal one and people just trying to do things that most of us get to take for granted.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Jodi Picoult for you, best-selling author.

Pint-sized pop sensations -- and we're moving on. Political movers and shakers -- our Connectors of the Day tomorrow are an eclectic bunch. And we are adding to the mix actress and environmentalist Brita Skatchie (ph) joins me next time on the show. She's been campaigning for years for the health of our oceans and especially against the dangers of offshore drilling. We'll have her thoughts on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

So do head to CNN.com/connect and send your questions.

Tonight, we'll be right back.

END