Friday, October 1, 2021

Jessica Anya Blau Previews Her Virtual Event

We're excited to host author Jessica Anya Blau for a conversation about her latest novel, Mary Jane, a fun coming-of-age story set in among the chic bohemian set in the rock and roll 1970s. It's part of our Readings from Oconomowaukee series, hosted in partnership with Books & Company of Oconomowoc (get it?!), where we have authors join us in virtual conversation with Daniel Goldin and Books & Co owner Lisa Baudoin.

We've got a big Mary Jane fan amongst the Boswellians in Margaret Kennedy, who has a few preview questions for Jessica Anya Blau. Check it out:

Mary Jane takes place over the course of the summer of 1975. What first drew you to setting the story in this time period? Why not the 50s, 60s, 80s?

JAB: It had to be the 70s or earlier for Mary Jane to be as na├»ve as she is. Fourteen-year-olds have become increasingly more “knowing” with the internet, cable TV, etc. I wanted her to be shocked by things like marijuana, bare breasts and group therapy. Also, I love the 70s. I love the music and the clothes. And I even love the TV shows from then: Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, Bob Newhart, The Odd Couple, etc. It was fun to go into that headspace when I was working on the book. And I LOVED listening to 70s music while I was writing. 

Margaret: Jimmy is one of my favorite characters of the book - a recovering drug addict rock star that genuinely seems like a good person despite his mess ups. He's someone I would like to meet - if you could sit down and have dinner with one character from Mary Jane, who would it be and why?

JAB: I love Jimmy, too! I would definitely want to hang out with Jimmy. He’s easy, fun, kind, and sexy. And at some point he might pick up the guitar and sing. I love group singing. I love the sound of a guitar. 

Margaret: You have a Spotify playlist up of songs to go with Mary Jane, and I am loving it! If you had the opportunity to see any concert in history, who would you want to see and when? (i.e. early Beatles in Liverpool, Mozart, Woodstock…)

I am a HUGE Prince fan so I’m embarrassed to say that I never made it to a Prince concert. Actually, I’d love to go to one of those impromptu shows he did in little clubs around the country. After a concert, to unwind, he’d often pop into a club and just play what he wanted - without the lights and choreography. Sometimes, with music, an intimate setting is more moving than a huge production. About a month ago I went to that massive concert in Central Park. It was great before it was evacuated for a storm. But, better than that concert was the soundcheck the day before. Because the concert was in Central Park, anyone in the park could hang out and listen to the sound check. Paul Simon was up on stage just as the sun was setting and the moon was rising. There was only a freckling of people dotted across the The Great Lawn in Central Park listening. Everyone went silent when he played the first few chords to “The Boxer.” Then, people stood and quietly sang along. It was a beautiful, magical, New York moment. 

Margaret: What are you currently reading right now?

I’m usually reading two books. The current ones are Great Expectations and Bob Mortimer’s autobiography. I’d never read Great Expectations and am loving it. It’s hilarious. Mrs. Havisham in that dusty old wedding dress is one of the greatest characters I’ve ever read. Bob Mortimer is an English comedian. I’m in London now and have been watching him on game shows on English TV.  His autobiography happened to come out in the middle of my TV bingeing on him. The Bob book is hardcover and Dickens is digital. So I read Bob in the day and Dickens in bed at night (this way I don’t have to have a light on and can just drop off to sleep without reaching over and turning out a light). 

Join our virtual event with author Jessica Anya Blau on Friday, October 8, 2 pm cdt - click right here for more info and to register today!

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