On October 24, Thurber House hosted an event featuring Jodi Picoult. She didn’t want to be interviewed. Rather, she requested to have a conversation with a local author. (How cool is she?!) Thurber House made the perfect choice, inviting Katrina Kittle to sit alongside Jodi onstage. Guests flooded the King Art Complex in Columbus, Ohio, learning what it took for Jodi to brainstorm, research, write, and revise her latest novel, titled SMALL GREAT THINGS. Meeting Jodi was a huge moment for me – I’m a longtime fan and was so flubbed up with emotion, I made a total ass of myself. I think I said something to the effect of, “I love your books. You liked my Tweet!” And just, ugh. The whole thing was cringe-worthy.
But I tried again in an email, because there was something important I need to share.
I’ve always loved reading. So much, in fact, that I’ve dreamed since childhood about becoming a published author. When I had my first child in 2005, I quit a very stable job teaching high school English to be a stay-at-home-mom, and took the leap of faith into fulfilling my passion. And I failed. Miserably. My first manuscript – a suspense/thriller for adults – garnered no interest from agents. Like, none. I was devastated. But I was well aware that the publication game isn’t for the weak of heart. Plus I’m stubborn as hell. So I decided to try again. It was around this time that I picked up Jodi’s latest release, NINETEEN MINUTES. And holy wow, I discovered something very important.
I connected so deeply with the character of Josie that I finally saw what should have been obvious from the beginning. I needed to write about young adults for young adults. That revelation was the beginning of me finding my way. The next manuscript I dove into was a YA and I had so much fun in the world of my new characters, I knew that something important had clicked into place. Sadly, that novel faced rejection as well. But the rejection was nicer, more promising, and came after some serious consideration. So I tried again, because what else was I going to do? Finally, I snagged an agent with my third manuscript. Fast forward to the present day, and I find myself celebrating the recent release of my third novel for young adults, with my fourth title set for publication next summer. I have to think that the ephiphany moment where I realized YA is my thing would have hit at some point, but I love that through Josie, Jodi Picoult helped bring it to light.