With sixteen books under her belt, three made-for-TV movies and a play inspired by her novels, Jodie Picoult celebrated the premier of New Line Cinema's adaptation of her internationally celebrated fiction, My Sister's Keeper, last night in New York.
The film marks the first of Picoult's novels to hit the silver screen and boasts a star-studded cast, including Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, and Alec Baldwin. Film critic Robert Ebert calls the adaptation "tender, tactful and very touching," which bodes well for the film's anticipated success.
But it's not only the film that's got readers talking; it's also the plot of Picoult's newest novel-to-be.
In an article published on EDGE Online, openly gay screenwriter Kevin Taft talks with Picoult about her plans to author a new book "about gay rights. And in particular, what it means to be a family."
The novel tells the story of a lesbian couple forced to undertake a difficult legal battle in order to begin a family.
Picoult describes to Taft why she decided on LGBT rights as the focus of her next novel:
I think gay rights are the last civil right in America... And it's not about labels for me. It's about the moments. It's about being able to be by your partner's side when he's sick. It is about being able to say I'm little Jackie's mom when you go into nursery school. It's all those tiny things that everybody else takes as their due.
Soon after Picoult began her research for the book, the issue gathered personal significance when her 17-year-old son, Kyle, revealed that he is gay:
Here I was working up this book about gay rights... then my son Kyle came out to us. And I was like, ‘well now I really have to write this book!'...And I know I have a very strong adolescent readership... [and] there are many adolescents who need to hear ‘I'm totally normal. And one day there might just be hope for me. And I might have what everyone else has. And it won't even be a problem.' And that's what I want this book to be for them.
So how did Picoult react to her son's news, Taft asks:
I'm so happy that he is comfortable in his own skin. It didn't matter who he was because he is my son... And I don't love him any more because he's gay. I don't love him any less because he's gay. I just love him because he's Kyle.
And Picoult has high hopes for the book and its potential impact on those still dubious about LGBT rights:
When you talk about the issue of gay rights... when you talk about it as a political platform... that to me is demeaning to the gay community... And the whole point for me in writing this book was to target the little old lady with blue hair in Mississippi who's never met one of ‘them gays.' So that [by reading the book] she meets someone [and] identifies with that person...I think once you hear the voice of someone who is gay or lesbian, they don't become a threat anymore.
My Sister's Keeper hits theaters nationwide today.
Picoult's book spotlighting LGBT rights will be available in spring 2011.