Why Bestselling Novelist Jodi Picoult Has Become a Prolific Musical Theater Creator

Most people know Jodi Picoult as the busy author of more than 25 bestselling books, including “My Sister’s Keeper,” “Small Great Things” and “The Pact.” But more recently, she’s collaborated on a musical based one of her own novels — and the resulting show, “Between the Lines,” is just the first of several stage projects she’s got in the works.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

On the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast, the author explained why she can’t get enough of making musicals. “It’s been lovely to understand the joy of collaborating as a writer,” she said. “When you write a novel, it’s very lonely. Having all those other brains to work off of is just a delightful experience. I wasn’t ready to stop.”

So she kept collaborating. At the height of pandemic, she and her “Between the Lines” co-creator Timothy Allen McDonald, along with five different teams of songwriters, released the digital musical “Breathe.” Later this year, her musical adaptation of “The Book Thief” (written with McDonald and “Between the Lines” songwriters Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel) premieres in the U.K. And the quartet of creators also has the rights to adapt “Austenland,” the 2007 novel that became a 2013 movie, for the stage.

For now, though, the focus is on “Between the Lines,” based on the 2012 YA novel that she wrote with her daughter Samantha van Leer. Picoult said she was aiming “Between the Lines,” now playing at Off Broadway’s Tony Kiser Theater with an eye toward Broadway, for a specific demographic sweet spot.

“This is not a kids show,” she explained. “The book was written for a middle-grade audience, and we very intentionally aged it up for the musical. … I thought that there was a world in which we could tell a story for an audience that fell into the pocket of the 18-year-olds who are obsessed with musical theater, up to their moms who are still pining for Mr. Darcy [of “Pride and Prejudice”]. But is also entertaining enough that you’re able to bring your kids, too, and also your grandma. I love that we’ve managed to create something that I think attracts a very wide range.”

Also on the new episode of “Stagecraft,” Picoult talked about mother-daughter stories on Broadway, COVID-19 tribulations and the long-running teen theater troupe she co-founded in New Hampshire.

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.