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Writer opens Voices Lecture Series, talks about her book turned musical that she has done with her daughter

COURTESY PHOTO: DEBORAH FEINGOLD - Jodi Picoult, the first speaker in the Voices Lecture Series, has produced several books — the past nine have debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.Writing books that have sold millions of copies and having five of them turned into movies is a pretty satisfying

accomplishment for Jodi Picoult.

But, it's a current project that has Picoult, the first guest speaker for the Voices Lecture Series, really excited.

She and her daughter, Sammy, co-authored the book "Between the Lines" during the summers when Sammy was 13 to 16 years old, and now the book is being turned into an Off-Broadway musical at Second Stage Theatre in New York City. It's set to open April 21.

"We've toured three continents with it (on book tours)," Picoult said. "It was a tremendous experience; collaborating with her was very fun. It's great to have somebody's brain to bounce ideas off. It was very much a partnership. We literally spoke the entire book out loud.

"She's 24 now, an elementary school teacher, and she's still writing. She wrote a fantastic young adults novel in college."

Picoult's experience as a best-selling author will be the main topic when she speaks at the Voices event, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Tiffany Center, 1410 S.W. Morrison St. There are series and individual tickets on sale at

The theme: "The Facts Behind the Fiction."

"I like to talk about how even though I write fiction, I spend equal or even more time doing research; doing everything right before creating a fictional story," she said.

Picoult's past nine books have debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times' best-seller list. Her newest book, "A Spark of Light," published in October 2018, deals with reproductive rights, from both sides of the argument.

That came after "Small Great Things" (2016), about racism.

Yes, it's two contentious issues in a row that Picoult, 53, has taken on.

"It's always really fun to see how a novelist dives into the reality of a situation and takes it and makes it into a story and whisks you away," she said.

With reproductive rights, "I have a firm opinion on my own feelings, but you have to understand how the other side feels and why they feel it. The best compliment I've received is, 'I can't tell what side you're on.' It's a very balanced book. ... I'm definitely pro-choice. My feeling is if you don't want to have an abortion, no one will force you. If you need an abortion, the opportunity should be there. But, it's in everybody's best interest to reduce the abortion rate."

On a lighter note, the musical "Between the Lines" is about a woman whose life has fallen apart and she finds solace in reading fiction. "The prince and the fairy tale speak to her, and so does he, and he wants out just like her," Picoult said.

"It's about finding your own voice, writing your own narrative and forming relationships around you in a solid way. It's a very real look at a mother-daughter relationship, and a young woman learning to use her own voice."

Picoult's next novel is in the manuscript phase. "The Book of Two Ways" is about how to have a good life and a good death and "everything between," she said.

"Who would you be if you weren't who you are right now?" Picoult added. "What if your life had taken a different path?"

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