Today we're excited to chat with Jenna Gavigan, author of Lulu the Broadway Mouse. Read on for more about Jenna and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Jenna Gavigan!
Jenna Gavigan, a fourth generation New Yorker, grew up dreaming of Broadway. At age sixteen she made her Broadway debut in Gypsy, opposite Bernadette Peters. Since then she's appeared in a half-dozen films, on more than a dozen television shows, and on east and west coast stages, most recently Off-Broadway in the world premiere of Straight. Jenna graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Creative Writing, where she focused on fiction, television, and screenwriting. She lives in a teeny tiny Manhattan apartment with her husband, Kevin. This is her first novel.
Lulu is a little girl with a very big dream: she wants to be on Broadway. She wants it more than anything in the world. As it happens, she lives in Broadway's Shubert Theatre; so achieving her dream shouldn't be too tricky, right? Wrong. Because the thing about Lulu? She's a little girl mouse.
When a human girl named Jayne joins the cast of the show at the Shubert as an understudy, Lulu becomes Jayne's guide through the world of her theatre and its wonderfully kooky cast and crew. Together, Jayne and Lulu learn that sometimes dreams turn out differently than we imagined; sometimes they come with terms and conditions (aka the company mean girl, Amanda). But sometimes, just when we've given up all hope, bigger and better dreams than we'd ever thought could come true, do.
Lulu. She’s my spirit animal, that’s for sure. She gives me courage and hope and chutzpah.
2. Which came first, the title or the novel?
Technically, the novel came first. When Running Press Kids bought the manuscript it was called Introducing Broadway Lulu! I’m glad we changed it. Lulu the Broadway Mouse gets right to the point!
3. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I don’t want to give anything anyway so I’ll just say there is a series of scenes that involves a debut, and I’m very proud of it. One of my friends, who’s been in quite a few Broadway shows, told me it’s the most accurate depiction of a debut she’s ever read. While yes, this book is fiction, it was very important to me that I give my readers an accurate picture of what life backstage is really like.
4. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the cover so very much! To quote my grandma: “This cover should be in a frame!” Erwin Madrid, the artist behind the front and back cover and the art inside the book, really managed to capture the beauty of the Shubert Theatre. The intricacy and timelessness of the theatre—almost like walking into a jewelry box. And, of course, I absolutely adore his depiction of Lulu. Exactly how I imagined her: spunky, confident, and ready for Broadway.
5. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
My agency-mate, Susan Lubner, has a novel coming out in November called Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl. In addition to sharing an agent, we share a publisher! So, I’m excited about her book for many reasons. (Break a leg, Susan!)
6. What was your favorite book in 2017?
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. It’s an adult book, so if you’re a kid, please check with a parent before reading. It’s set in 1880, and mostly takes place in a tea shop called Tea & Sympathy, over by Madison Square Park. I absolutely love New York historical fiction, and fictional witches have had my heart since Hocus Pocus. (Disclaimer: this book is darker than Hocus Pocus.) It’s the perfect autumn read.
7. What’s up next for you?
Honestly, I really miss being on stage. I’ll take that to another level: I really miss being on Broadway. Writing this book has been such a joy; I’ve been able to relive the parts of my life I’ve spent in the theatre. But writing about the theatre can also be painful at times because it makes me miss it. Terribly.
As an author I’m...well... I’m hoping for a sequel to Lulu! I’m also working on a book set in 1930s Brooklyn about a girl whose family runs a boarding house, loosely based on the experiences of my family.
8. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Hmmm... Amanda. It’s easy enough to write a stereotypical “mean girl,” I suppose. But I (and my editors!) wanted to make sure Amanda was more than that. Because, in real life, most difficult/mean/harsh people usually have something they’re struggling with that’s making them behave the way they’re behaving. I guess what I’m saying is I wanted to make sure Amanda was not just a character but that she was human.
9. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I prefer revising. I’ll compare it to having learned your lines for an audition, rather than having to read off the page. Or being in rehearsal and doing your first run-through, off-book and staged. There’s a freedom to knowing the lay of the land. More room to play and be creative in precise, yet powerful, ways.
10. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I have to name two!
Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights Aids (BCEFA) is an organization that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. Every year the theatre community performs two fundraising shows—Gypsy of the Year and the Easter Bonnet Competition—and prior to the shows themselves, the companies of Broadway shows, Off- Broadway shows, and touring companies raise money for about six weeks or so, after every performance of their show. It’s just one of the many examples of the way the theatre community joins together to work toward making the world a better place. If you see a show during the late winter/spring or fall, you’ll probably watch a company member give a “curtain speech” after Bows about BCEFA, and you’ll see company members in the lobby and around the theatre with red buckets to collect money, holding signed posters and such to take home in exchange for a donation. Give what you can! Every penny makes a difference. https://broadwaycares.org/
Broadway Barks! Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore founded the organization 20 years ago. Their yearly event—which takes place in Shubert Alley!!—raises money to help shelter animals find permanent homes. The event is chock full of Broadway stars, adorable, in-need animals, and lots of signed theatre swag available for purchase. Go! Contribute what you can and... maybe... adopt a pet! http://www.broadwaybarks.com/
Lulu the Broadway Mouse
By: Jenna Gavigan