Author Interview: This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey
Boy bands. TRL. Tamagotchis. CDs. Skorts and JNCO and what the hell were we thinking with our fashion (and why is it back?!). The 90s were where I grew as a teen and yet somehow I want relive them? Enter This is Not the Jess Show, the 90s Truman Show but make it Black Mirro nostalgic romp you need this spring. We checked in with author Anna Carey while getting our read on. Check it out and be sure to preorder Jess, out February 2, 2021!
This Is Not the Jess Show (This Is Not the Jess Show, #1)by Anna Carey
Published by: Quirk Books
on February 2, 2021
Genres: Young Adult
Black Mirror meets My So-Called Life in this fast-paced, timely YA thriller about separating fact from fiction—and how far we’ll go to create our own version of reality.
Like any other teenager, Jess Flynn is just trying to get through her junior year without drama . . . but drama seems to keep finding her. Between a new crush on her childhood best friend, overprotective parents cramping her social life, and her younger sister’s worsening health, the only constant is change—and her hometown of Swickley, which feels smaller by the day.
Swickley is getting weirder by the day, too. Half the population has been struck down by a mysterious flu. Conversations end awkwardly when Jess enters the room. And then one day, a tiny, sleek black device—with an apple logo on it—falls out of her best friend’s backpack and lands at Jess’s feet.
But the year is 1998, and the first iPhone won’t exist for another nine years.
Interview with Anna Carey
Tell us about Jess. What motivates her? What keeps her up at night?
In a lot of ways Jess is a typical seventeen-year-old growing up in the 90s, but she’s always had a gut feeling that something is off. Her parents are distant, and the last ten years of her life have been marked by different catastrophes–a tornado that swept through her hometown, a burglary, and then her sister getting diagnosed with a rare blood disease. When a strange object falls out of her best friend’s backpack, she becomes determined to uncover the truth about her life and everyone in it.
If your teenage years were turned into a TV show, what parts would you want highlighted? What would your bedroom look like?
My high school years were defined by close female friendships, and all the beauty and complications that go along with them. I was the latest of the late bloomers, so having those friends allowed me to grow and figure myself out in this safe setting, with people who knew me well. Some of my favorite memories are from my first job (a gift wrapper at a high-end home goods store) where I worked alongside my best friends.
My childhood bedroom was a mess. There was always a good three inches of clothes on the floor, I never made my bed, and I was a borderline hoarder with all the stuff I kept on my shelves—half empty perfumes, troll dolls, old Delia’s catalogs, Keroppi stuff, and Baby-Sitters Club books. A highlight of those years was getting one of those white Formica built-in desks, with a special shelf to display my collection of Disney snow globes (NERD ALERT!).
What do you hope readers will take from Jess’ story?
In the before times, I had an ongoing poker game with some friends, and one night we turned on a 90s playlist. It was a surreal feeling, hearing all these songs I hadn’t heard in over a decade–songs that conjured a totally different time and place. We were in my friend’s dining room… and somehow simultaneously back there, hanging out of car sunroofs, or standing in the corner of the gym, waiting for someone to ask us to dance. With THIS IS NOT THE JESS SHOW, I really wanted to recreate that experience. I wanted to write a book that felt rooted in the past… but also somehow contemporary. There’s also a lot in the book about social media, the “sharenting” generation, found family, and discovering hard truths about who you are and what the world expects of you.