Book ideas seem to come easily to Jodi Picoult, said Bernard Vaughan in the Chicago Tribune. Since her 1992 debut, Songs of the Humpback Whale, the best-selling author has managed nearly a novel a year. But the concept for her latest book, Lone Wolf, about a wolf researcher who suffers a brain injury, took a while to germinate. It began a decade ago, while Picoult was sitting on an airplane next to a neurologist, who later advised her on the character. Her composite was complete when she later happened on a wolf scientist. “I truly believed that I had created a truly unique character, someone who had gone out and lived in the wild with wolves,” she says. “Then I found out that someone had actually done that. He lives in England. He taught me how to howl like an alpha.”

Nineteen books in, Picoult can reveal the key to her publishing proficiency, said Noah Charney in “I don’t believe in writer’s block,” she says. “Think about it—when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” That said, Picoult encourages aspiring writers not to assume they can muddle their way to success on their own. “Take a workshop course,” she says. “You need to learn to give and get criticism and to write on demand.”