Tag Archives: Judy Balan

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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Book Review of “Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce” by Judy Balan

No matter how “modern” we become in our thinking, some things will never change in the Indian society. I’m hinting at one of our most primary concerns, or should I say arrangement – marriage. People still have a lot of trouble convincing their folks to approve of their love/marriage, when they fall in love with a person outside their “community”. A “love marriage” sometimes is still looked down at, in most clans.
Let’s say you face all the music and convince your parents to get you married to the person you love and think it’s going to be a “happily ever after” sort of a life, only to realize that things are not really all that fine. And you (mutually) think of a divorce. Bhamm!
How do you think you’ll convince your parents for that!??!

 

Judy Balan’s debut novel “Two Fates: The Story of My Divorce” revolves around this very plot.
We have a cute couple, Deepika Sundar (a chirpy Tamilian girl) and Rishab Khanna (a handsome Punjabi boy) who after a lot of trials and tribulations convince their parents and get married, and within a couple of years think of getting divorced! On mutual grounds, of course. The trouble they majorly face here is: their parents have developed a fondness for them as well as their respective families. They now look up to Deepika and Rishab as the ideal couple and wish for the other children of their community to follow suit. Oh, and did I mention, how desperately both the families look forward to the couple having a baby!?! It’s true when they say, in India you don’t just marry a person, you marry the entire clan!
The crux of the story definitely is way different from any that I’ve heard/read in a long while. And let me confess, the writing got me hooked from the very first page – the acknowledgement and the prologue had me giggling and laughing and smiling and loving it all the way till the end.

The scenes (almost all of them) are funny and rightly over-dramatic. I could absolutely relate to each and every situation since I share a similar background (professionally and personally).
Imagine the roller coaster ride that the readers are put on, when a money conscious, traditional Tamil family blends in with the forever-partying-and-drowning-in-whiskey Punjabi family!
There is not a single page in here that will not crack you up. If you think the portrayal of Punjabi’s is overtly dramatic and “louder than the drums”, well…it is so! There’s a reason we are “fun-jabis”!

 

Judy has done justice to the plot and the story. It is simply interesting, humorous, entertaining, intriguing, and yes captivating! (Yes, that’s how impressed I was!)
The sweet quibble of the couple; the randomness of the forever-after-your-life- aunties; the pseudo-sophisticated behavior of the so-called NRIs; the typical struggle with boss/colleagues; and the understanding and love that the couple share will stay in your mind even after you put the book down.
For a debut novel, Judy has done wonders. The book makes up for a light read over a relaxed weekend.
Let’s give truly fictional scenes a pass, after all this is just a parody of “you-know-which-book”.

 

I recommend this to every person reading the review. Go pick it up!

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Book Launch Of “Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce”, By Judy Balan

Book Launch Of Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, By Judy Balan

 

As I walked in to Landmark for the book launch and reading session of Judy Balan’s debut novel – Two Fates: The Story Of My Divorce, I looked around to see if I could spot her. Amidst the crowd she easily passed off as a kid…alright a teenager! Yes, you read me right. A teenager. A young, chirpy one (and I’m tempted to add bubbly too) at that. Her smile, definitely infectious…and her book – oh! So lovable!!!

 

The session had an equally excited young moderator interacting with Judy. Answering the volley of questions with ease, Judy let us on some fun facts too. “This is more of a parody on Two States: The Story Of My Marriage, by Chetan Bhagat,” she confessed. 

 

“Yes, I’m divorced but this is not my story at all. The story of my divorce would turn out like one of Stephen King’s novels!” she laughed.

 

Taking digs at the typical character traits of some of the South Indian aunties she has come across in real life, Judy spoke about her experience of penning the novel and how things somewhat fell in place within a short frame. “It feels like a Cinderella moment, honestly.”

 

Judy read out about a page or two from her book. And I believe no one spaced out. In fact, I am sure, people who heard her read out the passage must’ve run to get themselves a copy of the book. The staccato writing style, I noticed, is one major factor that brings alive the fun that the auhtor intends to present to her readers.

After the interactive bit, she signed a few copies for the eager audience and of course smiled for the shutterbugs. 

  

Thankfully I had enough time to interview her, which you all will read soon. But for now, let me confess, I had a great time at the launch interacting with this fun spirited cherub. And her book is a must read for everyone!

 

P.S – there is no compulsion in wrapping up the book within two hours, really. Though many have done it.

(*Pic of Judy Balan by Siddhesh Kabe)

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