Devoted fan Lu takes a madcap road trip to stop Keanu Reeves’s upcoming wedding with the help of her best friend, True, in Jackson’s How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days (Forever, Nov.).
Why Keanu Reeves?
Whatever I have in my head comes out through my Twitter fingers. I read a tweet that said the next Matrix and the next John Wick movie were planned to come out on the same day, and I said, “Note to self: don’t bring out your next book on Keanu day unless it’s How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 days.” I tweeted it out and people responded “I’d read that.” The next day, the idea was still with me. I got on the phone with one of my best friends and I told her. She’s like, “I love him.” And then I was on the phone with my daughter and she’s like, “I love Keanu,” and my mother too. Who’s not a fan of Keanu? Not that I’m looking very hard to find that person. Probably not my audience.
Tell me about your approach to the friends-to-lovers trope.
I thought Lu would need a special foil for her not to seem too off the rails. I didn’t want to write a character who was going to be this obsessed Keanu fan and make her out to be a joke, or make her out to be crazy, like there’s something wrong with being a fan. True understands her and understands her reasoning. I just wanted to make sure there was no “you’re crazy for doing this” or constantly putting her down. I don’t think that person could be her hero.
Lu and True’s friendship started with them being Black kids in an upper class, mostly white school. What inspired this origin?
Part of that came naturally throughout the story and part of it came intentionally because of the times we’re living in. There was just so much happening during this past year when I was writing. When I was in middles school in Harlem and in Washington Heights, I was one of the only Black girls in my class. I’m gonna date myself: it was the early ’80s. We were divided into four classes, and I tested into the Level 1 class and I was the only Black girl. I will never forget having one teacher say, no, I shouldn’t be in those classes. I always felt slightly other than that school, you know, until I sort of found my way. But it’s still going on today, and it’s just so heartbreaking and hard.
Though it’s funny and light, this is still a story about managing grief. What led to this focus?
When I stop and analyze it—maybe get a therapist on speed dial—I guess I work through a lot of my emotions in my writing. Quite a few of my books deal with grief and loss because I’ve had some grief and some loss. It just seems to come out, I don’t do it consciously. But so many people were dealing with grief and loss this year that I did want to write about it. And Lu needed a hard-hitting reason for why she was like this, what changed her life.