Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Interview with Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to the bookstore for the launch of Judy Balan’s debut novel, Two Fates: The Story of my Divorce, I was greeted with a sweet smile and a hint of a rollicking time!
I managed to get Judy’s time and attention before the launch and indulged in a candid interview.
On enquiring about the ideation of the story, she was quick to respond, “I happened to be in a store   and noticed Drink, Play, F@ck, the parody of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. The author of the    parody had managed to sell film rights to his book and I thought, “Wow! You can simply rip off a  best seller and do wonders!” I was reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Two States: The Story of my Marriage”,  and I thought of doing a parody of the book.
I went home, and posted this incident on my blog and asked my readers if they thought it was a good idea. And most of them reverted with a “yes”. Would you believe it only took me about less than three months to wrap up the book!” smiled the author. Continuing her part of the story, she said, “And it was a wonderful experience. I was surprised as to how quickly I even found publishers willing to launch my book. It truly felt like a Cinderella moment…”

So do we see glimpses of her life in this book? “No no! This is definitely not the story of my divorce,” Judy responded quickly. “In fact the only thing common between me and the character of Deepika is the job (as a copywriter).”
“Oh and the aunties of course! The ones who keep coming up to me or my parents enquiring about my age, and they seem to be obsessing about my marriage and my divorce more than my folks. It’s hilarious (now) but it is so true!”
Digging a bit in to her professional background I enquired about her decision to be a “full time parent”.
“Well, even after those five and a half years in the advertising agency as a copywriter I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t satisfied doing what I was doing. I was scared to quit initially as I did not know what I would do next. Quitting was not an option but when my divorce came through I knew I had to dedicate time to my girl. The ups and downs of divorce were terrible. I took up freelance writing and of course started blogging ardently.”
So how was life at home? “Very different. It was mundane, yes. It took me about a bit to adopt the sedentary lifestyle. There was a drastic change in momentum. But it gave me time to spend with my daughter and write. It was the best thing that happened to me.”
Ask her if she would plunge in to a marriage (or love) again and she chirps, “Why not! I’m a die-hard romantic. A million times bitten and still not shy sort of a person. Divorce hasn’t made me cynical. I’m the incurable optimistic who still writes letter to “the one”. If life gives me a chance to fall in love, I’d dive!”
As the focus shifted to her writing and her blog, she confessed “Blog writing gives you almost instant gratification. Your readers revert real quick. Writing a book, a fiction, needs commitment. It is hard work.”
For those who don’t know, Judy also writes scripts for plays. Her shyness prevents her from being on stage, but off-stage she seems to be the “queen of the written word”. “I would love to have a column someday, though my blog sometimes serves more like a column,” smiled Judy. “But writing an epic adventure series (like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series) is one thing I look forward to. I know it’s a long long way yet, and for now I will focus on light fiction about relationships and break-ups.”
Humor and comedy is one key ingredient Judy feels that she cannot do without in the books she reads and pens. “If you’ve read Two States, you’d get all the jokes in my book”, confessed the author sheepishly.
“I do love romantic comedies. Nothing can quite beat Erich Segal’s Love Story and Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult’s works. I also like reading books by Candace Bushnell and Marian Keyes and Elizabeth Gilbert.”
Getting to the juicy part of the conversation, we asked Judy to share an exclusive detail about her as a writer and she confessed, “My writing will always precede the love of my life. I think I devote more time to my writing than anything else.”
And Judy as a mother? She quickly said, “I’m forever obsessing over the fact that I’m not good enough. Trust me, all that art and craft and wonderful things parents do for their kids, I’m bad at all that.”


Over more smiles and jokes I enquired about her next book and she said, “It’s wonderful how I’ve already signed the deal for my next book. It is again a light fiction. But I can’t give out much on it. You’ll have to wait a bit!”
For sure we would look forward to her next book, since her first one has definitely got us hooked!
It’s true all good things definitely come in small packages. And this package is amongst the best!
I’m sure she captured more hearts and readers with her smile and her book that evening.

 

Grab a copy of her book before the stores run out of copies! You will definitely enjoy the read.

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What’s Your Fantasy?

 

Right from childhood days, most of us have grown up with stories of prince and princess’, of kings and queens, of fairies and witches and of God and his magical ways – of casting spells, swishing wand, riding dragons and brooms, and zipping-n-zapping people in to animals and vice versa. Most of us grew up reading (or listening to) stories from the desk of Enid BlytonL. Frank BaumTerry PratchettRick Riordan and the like.
The mystical land was left open for us (readers and listeners) to explore and at times, create.  
We were free to mold places, people, settings, ideologies, laws. We could defy any notion; make our own Universe; have a tryst with fate as per will; and for all that you know- be a hero…correction- Super Hero!

Writing Fantasy –Fiction gives the author the levy to create just about anything anyhow anywhere.
I don’t know if many remember Margaret Bhatty – Indian writer of adventure, fantasy and science fiction, short stories, and picture books. She penned quite a few fantasy-fiction tomes besides one science fiction and some adventure fiction novels. (Kingdom of No Return, Himalayan Adventure, The Mystery of the Zamorin’s Treasure, The Secret of Sickle-Moon Mountain, Travelling Companions, The Never- Never Bird, The Evil Empire, etc.)

But of late, why is it that we have to bank on the wizards and fun of Pottermania, the mystics of the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings), survive Twilights and save the world with just the X-Men?

It’s not surprising that Indian readers who enjoy fantasy fiction opt more for established Western authors than their Indian counterparts.

Let’s not forget, this is the land of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. This is the land with a host of mythological and super powerful fictional characters of the fantasy world. Then why are there only a handful of Indian fantasy writers who are able to rekindle the lost interest?
Like:

Samit Basu who has authored five novels: The Simoqin PropheciesThe Manticore’s Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy; a fantasy trilogy – Terror on the Titanic; and Turbulence, a superhero novel set in India, Pakistan and England.

Sonja Chandrachud– our ‘Desi Rowling’.

Sonja deftly brews up fantastical tales filled with magic, mayhem & mischief. The Potion of Eternity & Pearls of Wisdom are the first two novels in the much loved Hilarious Hauntings Adventures five book series. Her next YA series – DOA Detective Files takes you deep into ancient historical times where cryptic curses, mysterious murders.

Thankfully, mythology is another accessible avenue for plotting fantasy-fiction, since it establishes an immediate connect. Religious/Spiritual fiction is coming of age.

Mythological characters like Rama, Ravana, Arjuna, Jesus Christ, Lord Shiva, Ganesha and others from the great epics are becoming fodder for contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Most writers find this a new way of looking at Indian culture to draw young readers.
Also, Indian spirituality and the concepts of reincarnation and past life regression, karma, etc. give it a new literary theme.

Shashi Tharoor’s “The Great Indian Novel” is a contemporary re-telling of the epic Mahabharata in the context of Indian polity.

Amish Tripathi’s Immortals of Meluha (his first book in the series of the Shiva Trilogy), followed by The Secret Of The Nagas created waves in the world of Indian Fantasy Fiction writing.

The book shows Shiva as a tribal towards the beginning of the novel. He is the chief of a tribe residing by the side of Mansarovar Lake at the foot of mount Kailash in Tibet. But as the story progresses with the invasions and battles, Shiva emerges a hero. One of the highly acclaimed books of recent times, this one is a MUST read.

Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Rozabal Line” brings Gods back from their heavenly abodes to play action games on earth. And his other offering “Chanakya’s Chant” draws a parallel to the practices implemented during the reign of Chadragupt Maurya, in today’s time.

 

Angela Saini’s “Geek Nation” is a quest for the truth behind India’s ‘geekiness’. The plot revolves around space centres, gleaming technology hubs, and biotechnology labs, and juxtaposes them against anacient scripture libraries, rationalist societies and portals of public sector. Absolutely fine reading material.

And among young fantasy-fiction writers we see Giti Chandra coming out with her debut novel – Fang of Summoning, that has been described by critics as a fantasy novel in the same mould as Harry Potter. The novel is about a war between ancient good and evil; between Vasuki (the Indian snake king) and Edasich (the orange star in astronomy).

 
Rohit Prakash’s debut novel – Arindam and the Kalyug Debacle Premonition revolves around a young boy, Arindam. He is packed off to a boarding school by his parents but ends up in a mysterious land and entrusted with the mission to save the ‘the third world’, ‘the real world’ and ‘the land of the unknown’. The book surely ranks as one fantastic read.

Priya’s debut book Prophecy: The rise of the Swordshows Neha Sharma’s search for the last land of Atlantis leads her and Atlantologist Nick Halliday on the adventure of their lives. This one is based on the Greek mythology. Sounds like an interesting read.

Another good fantasy fiction writer is Payal Dhar. Her first offering was the hugely enjoyable and gripping – Shadow trilogy, and now she is back with the first of her new trilogy, Satin: A Stitch In Time.

Then there are a few new fiction tomes about to grace our bookshelves– The Ganesh Scripture by Alice Albina, The Golden Sacrifice of the Mahabharata by Maggi Lidchi Grassi and Kalika and Dimna: The Panchatantra Retold by Ramsay Wood use Ganesha, Vyasa, Arjuna and mythical demons to narrate gripping stories –but all by foreign authors.
Publishers too have recognized the growing demand in the fantasy-fiction category. They are entertaining new entrants of this genre. Possibilities are aplenty. It’s just the push that Indian writers need to explore this genre further more.

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