10 Questions for Jodi Picoult

Best-selling novelist Jodi Picoult on the right to die, being famous in New Hampshire and howling like a wolf

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Adam Bouska

Jodi Picoult

You've written a new book about wolves, and there's a new movie, The Grey, about wolves. Are wolves the new zombies?
I doubt it. Researching Lone Wolf, I was amazed at how thoughtful and intelligent these animals are. There has never been a documented attack against a human by a wolf that wasn't provoked by the human. But the book began for me with a premise about the right to die and what happens when you have equal competing interests trying to make a decision about the health care of a loved one who is in a vegetative state. I woke up one morning thinking about wolves and realized that wolf packs function as families. Everyone has a role, and if you act within the parameters of your role, the whole pack succeeds, and when that falls apart, so does the pack.

Do you have a strong position on how end-of-life decisions should be handled?
My position is, have a conversation long before you ever find yourself in that situation, because you will be doing the greatest service to your loved ones by not making them make these decisions for you.

Does your family know your wishes?
My husband is this amazing guy who is very strong and outdoorsy. And he has always said, "I don't want to be alive if I can't move. Just pull the plug." My take on it is, if I can type with my tongue, I'm good. As long as I have an outlet for my imagination, I like the idea of sticking around.

You started a mini firestorm recently about white male authors getting a lot more attention than female authors. Has anything changed?

What's behind the bias?
I have no idea. If a woman writes about family and about the connections between people and what it means to be alive in this day and time, it's called women's fiction. And if a man does it, it's nominated for a National Book Award. What--you can't have a heart and a penis? That doesn't make sense.

Some New Hampshire legislators are trying to ban gay marriage. Are you involved in this issue?
I am appalled. It is one of the greatest embarrassments about living in New Hampshire. I've been very vocal about it. I was writing Sing You Home when my oldest son came out to me. He is exactly the kind of kid you would want to settle in a place like this, because he is so smart, engaged and civic-minded.

Are you the biggest New Hampshire celebrity?
I really doubt it.

Can you name any others?
Dan Brown used to live here. Adam Sandler grew up in New Hampshire.

Several of your books have been made into movies. Have you enjoyed that?
Not at all. The reason I like having my books adapted is not that I'm expecting them to be good copies of the story but that you reach people who would never otherwise pick up a book. But that said, it's really hard to have people in Hollywood lie to you. What's really upsetting is when a fan says, "Why did you let them change the ending?" As if we have any say in the matter.

In researching this book, you learned to howl. Do you ever break out that skill in the mall?
If I get drunk enough.