Since the middle of October, New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult has been touring the USA, Canada and the UK with her latest novel, Leaving Time. The first stop of Jodi’s tour was an event at St James’s Church, near Piccadilly, and when Waterstones asked me if I wanted to come along, I knew I had to say yes.
Although some of them have been on my to-be-read list for a long time and my friends keep recommending them to me constantly, I haven’t got round to reading Jodi’s books yet. (I will guys, I promise.) But I was interested to hear more about her new novel and see why people fall in love with her stories on the very first page. And, after hearing her talk about the research, the preparation that came before the book, and stories I have to say I get it.
Even within a 90-minute talk, you could hear she’s an amazing storyteller. I don’t know if it’s possible to fall in love with an author’s books before you’ve actually read them but if it is, I’m pretty sure I just did.
And since I know a lot of you live too far away from London and couldn’t make it to the event, I wanted to write a short recap and tell you how the evening went. I don’t want to go into details about the plot and what happens in the book for obvious reasons, but Jodi’s speech about its background was so fascinating that I wanted to share it with you.
The book’s original title was Elephant Graveyard but, as Jodi said, her publisher wasn’t too happy about the word elephant… or graveyard, so they changed it to Leaving Time. Since the book is very scientific and elephants feature heavily in the story, Jodi talked a lot about her research on elephants’ behaviour, which I found fascinating.
One of the things I found the most interesting was how elephants deal with death and mourning. According to Jodi, elephants remember and mourn their loved ones even many years after their death. When an elephant walks past a place where another elephant died, he or she will stop and become quiet for a while. They remember this spot and return to it even years after the other elephant’s death. Interestingly, they don’t do any of these with any other animals, only elephants.