You could say Mary Hoynacki '14 is feeling pretty jazzed about her latest accomplishment – fulfilling her goal of writing a children's book.

"The Groovy Blube" is about Gerry, a blueberry saxophonist who sets out to play sweet, smooth tunes at a club in New York City.

Mary Hoynacki with her book The Groovy Blube in front of a school
Mary Hoynacki with her book, "The Groovy Blube"

Hoynacki hopes to share her fun and silly story with as many people as possible.

"I want to make people laugh and lift their spirits,” she said.

You can buy the hardcover for $24.99 or watch the read-aloud version on YouTube.

Learn how and why Hoynacki published the book in this Q&A:  

Question: What have you been doing career-wise since graduating from UW Law in 2014?

Answer: After graduating, I took a job as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in New York City. I was a public defender for nine years, and I represented indigent New Yorkers accused of crimes. It was a very demanding job but also deeply rewarding. I’m very proud of the service I provided to my clients and the community, and I’ll always be a public defender at heart. In the spring of 2022, I took a sabbatical so that I could start writing "The Groovy Blube." I founded my own publishing company called OooWee Books LLC,  wrote the book and self-published it. I did this all while living abroad. I worked on "The Groovy Blube" in about 15 different countries and on five different continents. Gerry has truly been around the world!  

Q: What inspired you to write a children's book? And why about a blueberry who plays jazz?

A: My nieces and nephews are probably my biggest inspiration. I’ve read heaps of children’s books to them over the years, and often I found myself enjoying the books as much as they did. I knew I wanted to eventually write a children’s book. When I was living in New York City, one of my favorite things to do was to go to jazz clubs and listen to music. I wanted to write a fun and silly book that took place in the city and revolved around jazz, so I figured a saxophone-playing blueberry would do the trick. For the title, my nieces and nephews call blueberries “blubes,” thus the title “The Groovy Blube” was born. 

the book The Groovy Blube
"The Groovy Blube"

Q: How long did it take? Was there anything that surprised you about the steps it takes to publish a book? Did you learn anything about yourself in the process?

A: The idea for the book was formulating in my mind for years, but I didn’t put pen to paper until my sabbatical. It took about a year and a half from start to finish. Something I found surprising about children’s literature is that you don’t usually get to choose who illustrates your book. Between finding that fact out and considering the odds of a publishing company choosing my book to publish, I decided to self-publish and asked my friend Ryan Stolp if he would illustrate. I was genuinely surprised to learn that I could be creative. I really didn’t know or believe that I was capable of that until I started writing this book. 

Q: What kinds of reactions have you gotten to the book? What are you most proud of?

A: I’ve gotten great feedback from everyone who has read it. On the book’s Instagram account, I’ve been posting short reviews from kids that have read it, and they make me laugh each time. One of the first conversations I had with my illustrator centered on how we could eventually get this story in front of as many eyes as possible. We decided that in addition to the book, we would also create a full-length cartoon version of the book and make it available on YouTube. We’ve gotten pretty rave reviews about the cartoon so far. 

I’m most proud of the fact that I followed through on this dream of writing a book. Lots of people (including myself) talk about how they want to do something but never actually do it. This time I actually did it! It’s really satisfying. I should probably try it more often. 

the book The Groovy Blube
Gerry dreams of playing in a New York City jazz club.

Q: What's next for you in law, children's book publishing and otherwise?

A: I’ll be traveling to Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Antarctica over the course of the next four months. After that, I’m not sure yet. Maybe I’ll go back to practicing law or maybe I’ll publish the story I’ve written about the banana who plays the bass! Who knows?

Q: Do you have a favorite memory from UW Law that you'd like to share?

A: My best memories from Law School all center around working for the Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP). I had incredible mentors, colleagues and clients, and they taught me so much. I’ll always be grateful for the experience of working for WIP. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

A: Just a thank-you to everyone so far who’s watched the video, read the book or interacted with the social media accounts (you can also find us on Facebook and TikTok). I’m really thankful for that. Stay groovy!  

-- Jennie Broecker, UW Law External Affairs team


Submitted by Law School News on January 16, 2024

This article appears in the categories: Alumni