Tag Archives: Nicholas Sparks

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 “At First Sight” By Nicholas Sparks

At First Sight

By Nicholas Sparks

 

This is a sequel of Sparks’ earlier book – True Believer, which introduced to us the lovely pair – Lexie Darnell of Boone Creek, NC and Jeremy Marsh of New York City. But if you’ve not read True Believer, don’t stop. Give this a read. The first few pages do summarize the previous book pretty well. The readers get to know about the happenings of the last five years in the life of Jeremy Marsh and Lexie Darnell.

Jeremy is a freelance writer who takes it on him to expose forgeries and scams. He initially came to NC to investigate mysterious lights in a graveyard in Boone Creek. He visited the local library for his research which is where he met Lexie (the librarian). And of course, they fell in love.

After a whirlwind courtship, one night of sexual bliss and Lexie’s revelation a bit later that she is pregnant, Jeremy proposes marriage. And his life changes from that day forward.

This book begins with Jeremy moving to Boone to be with Lexie (his fiancé now).

Lexie has inhibitions of letting Jeremy stay with her before marriage, thanks to the gossip-mongers around who create unnecessary trouble and interference in their lives. They undergo the whole gamut of finding, buying, and renovating a new house; planning the wedding; having a baby.

He faces a writer’s block –and is unable to meet deadlines from his editor on a column and feature stories. Lexie is more engrossed with the wedding and the baby.
Jeremy thinks he is not yet ready to be a parent. He shows a lot of doubt and is skeptic about his capabilities as a father. The emotions and feelings Jeremy undergoes are brilliantly composed by the author.

Soon the newlyweds face the hardships of being in a relation. They even hit a road block in their relationship where communication is almost lost. Life changes drastically. Jeremy’s career is hanging by a thread, so is his life, he feels. Amidst the entire trauma that they both endure, Lexie still stands by him as a constant support.

The couple understands and realizes the joys and pains of being in a relationship. They have a lot of issues to resolve before they can move on. Do they do it? Pick up the book to find out. All I can say is that you will surely be surprised at the end of it.

 

It is a bit clichéd in certain ways. Falling in love at first sight; undergoing the emotions of a relationship; coming out stronger; supporting your partner when it is most needed; etc. but none-the-less, it is a story well told. The setting and the characters are interesting and “they touch the cords of your heart”. Portraying human emotions (love, betrayal, tragedy, new beginnings) brilliantly, Sparks has cast his magic once again.

 

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Book Review of “The Last Song” By Nicholas Sparks

The Last Song

By Nicholas Sparks

 

Here’s an emotionally charged novel out of Sparks collection.

A string of human emotions flow– tears, joy, love, heartbreaks, redemption, forgiveness, flow through the journey of “The Last Song”.

It is more of a love story and family drama intervened with friendship and heartbreaks. A highly entertaining read. You’d feel the story is a bit predictable with artificial situations in between but it surely is very touching and moving.

Though the beginning was a bit slow, the story had a great plot, strong character building, and a wonderful ending, full of hysterical moments.

Set in New York, the story is about Veronica “Ronnie” Miller – a rather obnoxious, shallow and a rebellious teenager who is hugely affected by her parents divorce. She takes to wrong company, as a result. Until her father requests Ronnie and her brother Jonah to join him in his North Carolina beach town for the summer. Meeting him after a gap of three years wasn’t easy for Ronnie and so she tries to distance herself from him from the time she sets foot in NC.

It is in NC that Ronnie meets Will and Blaze and Marcus. She experiences love, friendship, trial and death. Her estranged relationship with her father takes a turn and the bond is restored. Learning valuable lesson along her way, she matures into a woman of substance.

Her transformation, realization and acceptance of situations adds a deeper meaning to your thinking as a reader too.

All characters have a unique personality and a defined point of view to interact, interpret and analyze situations. It definitely shows the great skills of Sparks as an ace author.

The characters felt real, believable and relatable. Ronnie as the rebellious, emotionally driven, teenager seeking vengeance from her father; getting involved with the wrong kind of guys; eventually turning a new leaf over after falling in love with the right guy. Jonah as the adorable kid connecting and bonding with his father. Will – the dream guy sticking around for Ronnie all the while. Steve – trying to do the best for his kids; his unconditional love and patience with Ronnie.

The story teaches you to forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes, and grow as a human being. Life is too short to hold grudges or to push people away. And life rarely gives you a second chance – so never let that go.

Overall, it feels like the story of every individual in some way or the other.

 

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Book Review of “The Lucky One” By Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One

By Nicholas Sparks


This is a light read with a dash of mystery and suspense, a splash of action sprinkled with some tender romance. It is interesting to read how fate conspires to bring two very different people together in its own magical way. This charming tale of love restores your faith in many things you might have given up on.

The story is about an ex-marine, Logan Thibault who in his third tour of duty in Iraq finds a half buried photograph of a beautiful woman with the letter E written on the back. Since no one claims it Logan decides to keep it with him. Soon he discovers that the picture brings him extraordinary luck – the kind that keeps him alive despite facing inevitable mortal danger and winning a good sum in poker. His friend, Victor, points out to the luck bestowed on Logan by the photograph.

The unexplainable attraction that Logan experiences towards the picture makes him take up a journey from Colorado to North Carolina, on foot, in search of what may be his destiny. His sole companion all through is his dog, Zeus.

Once he arrives in Hampton, North Carolina, he takes a job at a dog training facility where he meets Nana, the elderly owner of the facility, Elizabeth Clayton, her granddaughter and her young son, Ben. Elizabeth, a teacher, he discovers is the woman in his lucky picture. Beth and Ben are soon drawn towards Logan.

Elizabeth is a single mother and ex-wife of the local sheriff, Keith. He comes from a very influential family and leaves no opportunity to use his control over anybody and everybody if it suits his advantage.

Keith is the same sheriff whose wicked plan is busted by Logan earning himself an enemy.

Once Beth and Ben drawn towards Logan certain secrets are revealed that threaten the new relationship budding between them.

Logan has no clue of what life holds for him – his journey to find Elizabeth, his sincere fondness for her Nana, his love for Beth, his friction with Keith, and the eventual predictable yet nail-biting ending.

Nicholas Sparks – author of fourteen best selling works of fiction (including Nights in Rodanthe, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook) is surely a storyteller extraordinaire!

The characterization is superb, the storyline quite believable and gripping, and the sub-plots interesting.

He has the gift of crafting simple but effective stories of relationships, matters of the heart and the importance of family. He makes you believe in fate, destiny and the mysterious ways of life that we usually pay no heed to. No wonder the readers are absolutely hooked and awed till the very end.

 

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