Coming-of-age and comedy writer Judy Balan speaks with us about her latest novel, Sophie Says and life as a writer. Popularly known for her famous blog, Woman and a Quarter and now, two books old, Judy is definitely here to stay.

Judy Balan

Here’s what we discussed with her –


How would you describe Sophie Says to someone who has not read your previous novel?

It’s a fun, fast-paced commentary on 21st century relationships and all the fashionable issues (commitment issues, intimacy issues, space issues, I could go on and on) that people come with these days. The central character – Sophie – is someone who embodies all these issues and is representative of urban twenty something women everywhere (not when it comes to the issues, really, but the fact that she’s independent, headstrong, opinionated and thinks she has it all figured out.

What do you want your readers to take away from the novel most?

This book (unlike my first one) is extremely character-centric and I’d love it if – after reading it – Sophie becomes as real to people as she is to me.

What are you reading right now? Are there any writers (living or dead) that you may name as influences?

I’m reading “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K.Rowling right now. Influences, I’d say Elizabeth Gilbert – I remember reading “Eat Pray Love” at a really bleak time in my life and thinking, ‘If I ever write, I’m going to be that honest.’  I read Tina Fey much after I took to comedy writing and Mindy Kaling’s book came out only recently but I relate to them more than I do to anyone else. I also absolutely love Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing” though I don’t read most of his other books because of my problem with horror. Also, Ariel Leve. I’m a big fan of her Cassandra Chronicles (a collection of her columns) and when I see some of my blog posts, I can tell I get a lot from her writing. It’s not the same but sometimes quite close to her brand of humor. 

Are you a much disciplined daily writer? What was your routine while writing Sophie Says? How about now? 

I’m not at all disciplined and would gladly waste months waiting to be inspired but a deadline is a great reality check. With “Sophie Says”, I was on a deadline (though I did deliver the manuscript four months ahead of it) so I made it a point to write every day whether I felt like it or not. It took me a little less than two months because towards the end, I was writing almost seven thousand words per day. Can be – and it certainly was – mentally exhausting but nothing like the high that comes from typing that last word in your last sentence – knowing you’ve seen it through – you’ve reached the finish line.

Can you tell us about your future projects?

Actually there isn’t much to tell at this point. I have three ideas in three completely different genres brewing in my head – one is comic fantasy, one is a memoir and the other is a coming of age novel of sorts. I have no idea which one I’m going to stick with – because for me, that’s the real problem. Sticking with a story and see it through. But yes, will have to start writing soon. I can already feel the itch getting to me. 

Read more about her thoughts and humour at Woman and a Quarter.