Novelist writing for 'Wonder Woman'

Bill Radford
The Gazette (MCT)

When DC Comics approached best-selling author Jodi Picoult about writing "Wonder Woman," her first reaction was to pass. She just didn't have the time, she figured.

She was soon convinced otherwise. "I went downstairs, told my family that I had been asked and all my kids said, `Are you kidding? You totally have to write this.'"

So she took the job: writing a story that will take up five issues of "Wonder Woman," beginning with issue No. 6, on sale at the end of this month.

Picoult's latest novel, "Nineteen Minutes," about the aftermath of a school shooting in a small town, hit bookstores this month and is the top-selling hardcover fiction title in the country this week, according to Publishers Weekly.

She caught DC's attention with "The Tenth Circle," a novel that centers on a comic-book artist and includes a graphic novel within the text.

"Someone from DC Comics got their hands on it, saw it and said, `Wouldn't it be kind of cool if she wrote for us?' and they called me up," Picoult said.

While not a huge comic-book fan, Picoult recalls Sunday outings with her dad when she was a kid: He'd get the New York Times and she'd get a comic book. She was most interested then in Marvel's X-Men, but she bought an issue of "Wonder Woman" every now and then.

Picoult, who lives in New Hampshire, is the mother of two boys, 13 and 15, and an 11-year-old girl. Her 13-year-old is the real comic-book buff in the family, she said.

"Wonder Woman is an American icon," Picoult said. "So when you say `My mom is writing "Wonder Woman." No really, she's writing "Wonder Woman,"' everybody's face kind of lights up. So I think he's sort of been enjoying a little bit of notoriety."

Though Wonder Woman is regarded as one of DC's "Big Three" along with Superman and Batman, her title has never sold as well as the other heroes' series. In crafting her story, Picoult struggled with who she was writing it for.

The character of Wonder Woman, she said, "certainly has an incredibly faithful core of adult readers who grew up with her, who are my age."

Picoult added, "Also, I think, just looking at the way she's dressed, you've got to believe she's targeted to adolescent boys. But by the same token, she's a female role model."

Picoult decided to write a story aimed at bringing in those different groups of readers. Her novels, she said, draw a similarly broad readership, with her fan mail pretty much split between male and female. Her story explores Wonder Woman's unresolved issues with her dead mother, Hippolyta.

"The idea that, do you grow up to be the person that your mother wanted you to be, or do you grow up to be the person that you are and that you need to be? I think that's something that any kid and any parent can relate to."

Comic-book writing, Picoult quickly found, poses different challenges than writing novels. "When you write a comic book, you have to think about pacing, you have to think about how you're going to split your scene into panels, you have to think about emotional revelation versus physical action."

It has been a kick, she said, to see the pencilled pages, to see her work in comicbook form. She got a taste of that with "The Tenth Circle," but that wasn't the same, she said.

"The difference here is it's Wonder Woman. How cool is that?"



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