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Bestselling author tackles comic books

Story Highlights

• Bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult writing "Wonder Woman"
• Picoult decided to focus on challenges of Diana Prince
• She's just second woman to write character in history
By Matt West
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Jodi Picoult is known as a serious novelist. Her latest effort, "Nineteen Minutes," is currently sitting in the top five on the New York Times bestseller list and has earned rave reviews from such publications as The Washington Post and Publishers Weekly.

But "Nineteen Minutes" isn't the only new project bearing the 40-year-old writer's name. There's also the latest issue of DC Comics' "Wonder Woman."

Picoult's five-issue run doing the title makes her only the second woman to write the character in its 66-year history. But despite the assignment's historical significance, when DC originally approached her to pen the story -- the company had noticed a character in Picoult's "The Tenth Circle" was a comic-book penciller -- she wasn't entirely sure she had the time (or the desire) to do it.

Her children convinced her otherwise.

"My kids looked at me and they were like, 'Mom, you totally have to write 'Wonder Woman!' " she told USA Today. (Gallery: Wonder Woman and Picoult)

So Picoult rearranged elements of her hectic work schedule and dove into research. (She admits to not being much of a "Wonder Woman" fan growing up -- "X-Men" was more her speed.) Looking back on the character's six decades in comics, Picoult found the story focused more on Wonder Woman's exploits as a superhero and less on the life of her alter ego, Diana Prince.

That angle baffled her. Diana Prince is a far more interesting character, she says, and offers plenty to work with.

"Over the years, she has had many different incarnations in the human world, some that I thought were pathetic," she says. "[But[ there's never been something that a reader could sink their teeth into and say, 'Oh yeah, this is why I'm like her.' "

'She's slumming it with all of us'

There are some who might describe Picoult as a real-life "wonder woman," balancing a career as a writer with her responsibilities as a wife and mother of three.

She disagrees.

"You can be the strongest woman in the world, and be incredibly sure of yourself in many realms of your life, and yet there's always going to be a chink in your armor," she observes. "There's always going to be one part of your life that you wonder, 'Am I doing a good enough job?' "

It's that very real internal struggle that drives Picoult's fictional "Wonder Woman" story.

Recent events in the DC universe find Wonder Woman (and Prince) struggling with her place in the world.

"She is not human and elevating herself to the level of a superhero like Batman or Green Lantern. Instead, she is other than human and she's slumming it with all of us," Picoult observes.

Prince's struggle is further complicated by work as an agent for the Government's Department of Metahuman Affairs -- for which her assignment is apprehending none other than Wonder Woman.

In a rare moment of vulnerability, she tearfully asks her partner, Tom Tresser, "Why don't people just leave her alone?" Seconds later, duty calls -- and Wonder Woman is forced into action.

It's a moment that Picoult says any woman can relate to.

"You have your pity fit, you do what you have to do. But then, you move on. You just pick up the pieces, and you jump in. And that ultimately, is always going to be Diana's strength."

DC Comics is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman has had a number of image changes since her creation in 1941.



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