Tag Archives: Marian Keyes

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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On Chick-lits

I do not like chick-lits. Yes, you read that right (*looking at EvilDevil). I feel it is not really a genre, but simply the book description.
And I do not like chick-lits. At all.

Spattered with pink (eeuu!) and margaritas and martinis and cosmopolitans and lotions and stockings – rather than soaking in literary awards, or IQ for that matter, I’m surprised such books sell like hot cakes.

The image that pops in my head (when a book is termed as chick-lit) is that of mediocre quality writing, published with minimum editing, available in paperback at half the price, and is as easily forgotten as read.

What ever happened to the enriching content or highlighting an issue of concern?
Don’t get me wrong. Chick-lits are fun, if well crafted. But look at the quality of chick-lits being produced nowadays.
All they have is random “bold”-ness and a generous serving of sex, affairs, lusty and flirtatious men and women, gossip, gal pals, shopping, high heels, parties, diets, broken dreams, lucky breaks, and the clichéd jazz (happy sorta endings) that help in no way apart from wasting time.

Chick-lits were meant to show a woman’s point of view. Remember Rona Jaffe’s fast –paced, sassy tale of New York girls’ office life, “The Best Of Everything” that came out in 1958? No, I haven’t read it but during my research I did come across a lot of reviews of this book. And most of them did mention how “the book changed the lives of many readers” (yes, in a positive way)! Now that’s what you call a good chick-lit that is a real bestseller. The one that has an impact. And weren’t chick-lits aimed at (young) women to change their perspective for the good? What really happened to that funda?

And if you consider it to be a genre, I’m sorry to say it has really degraded and instead of dealing with the real problem/issues faced by women, it highlights the kind of lifestyle most women yearn for today. Obnoxious most of the time. And it’s all in the name of enjoyment and fun. Fine, there is nothing wrong in indulging in fun. But honey, can’t you pull up your socks and just think of a better name, if not the content!??!
All I ask you “budding writers” is to make some sense! Those “no-brainer” reads make it to the bestsellers list.
How, I have no idea!
Someone told me recently that chick-lits sell. It’s easier to find publishers for it. Not many publishers take their chances with serious content lest they lose face.
Ok, what? How???

It baffles me how each time someone blames the publisher(s) and walks away with a chick-lit. Now just because no one can really go (cross-) question the publisher, the argument ends there (forcibly).
I’ve met a couple of publishers during book fests and boy! Are they serious about their work or what! Name “chick-lits” that have won any awards. You won’t find many. Right. Because they have no invigorating content!!!

To add more misery are your ‘telly series’ (like Sex and the City) that makes young women think they too can write a shoddy articles about their lifestyle in the metro as a single girl and garner accolades. Accolades of shame I say.

And what’s with the pink cover! Really!!! Or cup cakes or cherries or hearts or suggestive silhouettes of women. All marketing gimmicks eh? Here’s a secret ladies – when you do that, no matter how good the content is, you definitely are losing out on certain readers. Because we are going to assume (and sorry about that –once bitten twice shy) that the inside would be as girly, uninteresting, formulaic and mundane as the cover.
Wise men have suggested that books furnish a house. But looking at the books on the shelves of major bookstores I don’t think I wish to furnish my room with the sickly pinks or sugar spewing, atrocious thin tomes.

And oh yes, the plot seems to be written for the dim-wits. An ordinary story, with no great characterization or depth or meaning what-so-ever, to mock the readers and their IQ. And there is no real humor. It is all forced/fake and non-existent. Don’t even get me started on the predictable endings. FYI “Happily ever after” is a myth.
Again, and I’m not defending myself here, there have been works by seasoned authors that count as really good chick-lits. But my grudge is against the new-age silly chicks who really think they can compile and compose a novella, when in reality they can hardly frame a sentence, or make sense.

I’ve read some of Sophie KinsellaMarian KeyesHelen Fielding and Janet Evanovich who’ve whipped up delicious chick-lits to savor. Yes, not all their work is good. But they are naturally humorous and entertaining, with sometimes a hidden agenda being addressed.
I recently heard people all over celebrated May 2011 as the inauguralInternational Chick-lit Month. Wow! I wish people attended that to learn more about crafting good stories rather than jotting clichéd routines and self-proclaim them as best-sellers!

*All views expressed in the blogs are of the writer (Sanjana Kapoor) alone and do not reflect the views of Sonia in any manner.

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