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Celebrity Q+A: Jodi Picoult

In addition to penning 20 novels, the bestselling author has also written plays with sons Kyle, 21, and Jake, 19, and a YA book with daughter Samantha, 17. Creativity seems to be a family trait.

Q. Your latest book, The Storyteller, is about a woman who befriends a man with a dark secret. Is it drawn from real life?
A. I try not to base my work on people I know. My characters just start talking to me and arrive almost fully formed in my head—so much so that I don't feel particularly creative once I start writing about them.

Q. You've mentioned it takes nine months to complete a book.
A. Talk about giving birth. Each time I'm done my husband gets balloons that say, "Congratulations on the New Baby!" But my biggest masterpieces are my children.

Q. So you consider yourself a successful mom?
A. Yes, because my kids are kind, confident and passionate. I was much older before I reached the same level of maturity and grace.

Q. Didn't they go through the terrible teens?
A. When Kyle turned 14 he got really snarky. One day I set an extra place at the dinner table and said, "This is for your attitude. When you leave the table, he can stay behind." It worked.

Q. The best part about your children growing up is...
A. Having a deep conversation and realizing you're talking not to a kid but to a young adult. And the fun, silly stuff, like when Jake beats me at Scrabble and lets everyone know on Facebook.

Q. What's your advice on getting kids to love reading?
A. Be a good role model. And let them choose what they want—comics, sports stats, Guinness World Records. It doesn't have to be Shakespeare!

Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.