Interview with Jo Muse, Author of Mixed Blessings & Ad Man Extrodinaire
LIT SCENE: Thank you for your work Mr. Muse and allowing us to review it. After reading this and looking at your history in the world of multiculturalism and advertising we’re wondering what exactly sparked this idea. Can you give us more insight as to why you felt this book needed born into the world?
JM: Of course. I have been fascinated by the differences in people starting at an early age. And over the years I learned to focus my curiosity on biology and science and in my adult years became an ad man focused on not only the differences of people but also what we have in common. The idea for Mixed Blessings. Is Race Real? came after reading a piece on the Los Angeles Times about bi-racial children. I took the subject and expanded it to provide a different view of America’s future with mixed race becoming the fastest growing population segment. The more I studied biology, politics and culture and living between Los Angeles and Detroit the closer I came to writing this story. What also fueled my imagination was current events and the mischief and curiosity that involved most discussions about mixed race children in America and some of the issues regarding identity I experienced on campuses across the nation. The fuss went from exotic to extreme.
LIT SCENE: Let’s start with the title and the part that asks us “Is race real?” Why did you feel the need to include that in the title for your audience to ponder?
JM: As I have already confessed I was a bit of a science geek as a child and developed an interest in bio-chemistry. Later in life my pursuit of the efficacy of race lead me to discover anthropologists and scientists that suggested race was a social construct yet the people in my life operated as who they were was in fact caused by race. As I began to ponder the possibilities of the question Is Race Real? I soon discovered it opened up a dialogue about identity and freedom. I thought that would he an interesting hook for the book and cover.
LIT SCENE: In the novel, which is a world without the Civil Rights leaders that we know today, there are leaders going to drastic lengths to change race demographics. While the premise is interesting, the data is similar to what our world will be experiencing in the near future. What influence did your background in demographics and the Census play into your writing?
JM: As an adman I have had the pleasure of working on the U.S. Census and have found the purpose for the nation’s inventory of its people remarkable. The power to determine political power, education and social services has been critical to empowering and liberating poor people and all people of color. The idea of a world without our spiritual leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. suggest that in my world the plight of people would be more desperate and suffocating. This condition led me to imagine how a devoted leader like the Honorable Kublai Khan would resort to more insidious measures to make his people free. Since at the heart of the matter is population-counting and getting a larger piece of the pie.
LIT SCENE: Your novel speaks volumes, especially today in a world where we are seeing more and more racially motivated attacks. What were your thoughts on race in the United States when this story was in its infancy? Have they changed since then?
JM: I imagined how the seeds of hatred could be sowed from the basic reasoning of most conflicts about race in this country. Most of the riots that have happened sprang from employment and economics.
People that hated and wanted to kill each other for hundreds of years with the idea of race being the fundamental illusion. The fact that what I created in my world mirrored the real world was not a surprise. I just hope my ending of the book speaks of our better angels.
LIT SCENE: We very much enjoyed the story and found the world fascinating which readers can view in our review. Are you writing anything else? Anything that you can tell our readers?
JM: Two things. I’m working on an autobiography about my life and becoming an ad man. It’s called From Mississippi to Madison Avenue. The J. Melvin Muse story. My second novel called The Sight of Sepia is an origin story that traces eight generations of my mixed race family in America.
LIT SCENE: Thank you for sharing your work with us and we look forward to reading more from you in the near future!