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Harvesting the Heartby Jodi Picoult
About the Author
Jodi Picoult is the 2003 New England Book Award Winner for Fiction, honoring her for her body of work.
Picoult was born and raised — happily — on Long Island. "I had such an uneventful childhood that much later, when I was taking writing classes at college, I called home and yelled at my mother, wishing for a little incest or abuse on the side," recalls Picoult. "Good writers, I thought at the time, had to have something to write about. It took me a while to realize that I already did have something to write about — that solid core of family, and of relationships, which seem to form a connective thread through my books."
Her novels, which all center on what it means to love someone, have come out in rapid-fire succession: Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), which Picoult wrote when she was six months pregnant with her first child; Harvesting the Heart (1994), which she describes as a reflection of her feelings as a new mother — and her most emotionally autobiographical novel; Picture Perfect (1995); Mercy (1996), a novel about married love and if it's really 50/50 (Picoult says she and husband Tim are still debating this); The Pact (1998); Keeping Faith (1999); Plain Truth (2000); Salem Falls (2001); Perfect Match; and Second Glance 2003 .
Picoult says she really learned to write at Princeton, where she studied creative writing with Mary Morris, who urged her to submit a story to Seventeeen magazine. Picoult was stunned when they published it and a second story a bit later. "That's when I thought I could be a writer," says Picoult.
However, when she graduated from Princeton, she headed not for the word processor, but for Wall Street, and followed that with stints at a textbook publishing company and an ad agency. She also taught creative writing part-time at a high school, got her master's degree in education at Harvard, and married Tim, whom she'd known at Princeton. Soon she was pregnant and had written a thousand page manuscript, which became Songs of the Humpback Whale.
It took a while, but Picoult says she has reconciled writing and motherhood. "I'm a better mother because I have my writing and I'm a better writer because of the experiences of motherhood that have shaped me." At this point, Picoult sees her list of novels growing, but not her family.
"There's nothing more interesting than crawling into a character's head — a head I created, that nonetheless seems to have a mind all its own."
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