After reading the No Ordinary Thursday synopsis, I got super excited about the Author Anoop Judge Interview on my site. As you all know, I love interviewing authors, especially authors who are passionate about their writing.
Anoop, welcome! Tell us more about No Ordinary Thursday!
On the same night, two decisions are made that will tear a family apart.
The Sharma family is not as close as they once were. With 36-year-old Maya dating a man twelve years her junior and her younger brother Sameer living a self-destructive, alcoholic lifestyle, both grown-up children are finding ways to go against the values of the traditional, wealthy Indian Bay community they grew up in—bringing down shame upon their mother, Lena.
When the events of one supposedly ordinary Thursday lead to a marriage proposal and a fatal car accident, this already broken family is sent into free-fall. Sameer is sent to prison, where events lead him to begin reliving a childhood trauma that he has always kept to himself, while pregnant Maya and her fiancé flee San Francisco and the judgment of a society they were born into but never chose for the small town of Paradise, without telling family or friends where they have gone.
Lena is left to question her priorities—family against the community and even friends—and what steps it might take to reconnect with her estranged children, while Maya’s growing friendship with a middle-aged neighbor helps her more truly understand her mother’s motivations—for her daughter to avoid the same hardships she herself has undergone. Meanwhile, in prison, Sameer’s own attempts to stop history from repeating itself causes him to make a dangerous enemy. Finally, just as bridges are beginning to be mended, another dramatic Thursday sees prison violence, and the deadliest California wildfire in history threatens to keep the Sharma family apart forever…
Who was your favorite character to craft?
The character I found hardest and most rewarding to craft was that of Leena. I wanted to paint her as someone who was trying so, so hard to do right by her kids, kept striking out at every time, and yet still kept trying. She is a survivor with a fierce heart and feisty determination.
Lena’s relationships with Maya and Sameer have been strained for years. But when Maya gets engaged to a much younger man—causing a stir in their Bay Area Indian American community—on the same day Sameer’s longtime addiction leads to an accident with shattering outcomes, those fractures deepen. In a matter of hours, Lena finds her children slipping even further away and her carefully constructed world crumbling. Lena is left to question her priorities—family against the community and even friends—and what steps it might take to reconnect with her estranged children and for their family to come together again.
There is such a vibrance of Indian culture brought into this book, bringing it to light as I’ve never seen before. Did you always want that aspect as a huge part of No Ordinary Thursday?
Yes! I was inspired to give voice through my stories to the East Indian diaspora in the context of twenty-first-century America, much of whose population is unaware of the rich culture of their new neighbors. Being an immigrant myself, it was important for me to impress upon readers how much is lost and sacrificed as people settle into a foreign land. On the other hand, I do not view my community through rosy-eyed spectacles and wish to paint their flaws and foibles in an equally authentic light.
What inspired you to craft this novel?
I was inspired to write No Ordinary Thursday when I saw how shocked the women in my community were at the age difference between actors Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas when the couple decided to get married.
At parties, the gossip was nasty to the point of meanness about PC (whom all of the Indian community considers one of their own and, therefore, fair game) marrying a child groom.
I couldn’t understand where this vitriol was coming from until I probed further and found that many of my friends in their 50s, with marriageable kids of their own, feared that the same scenario would play out in their own well-appointed drawing rooms.
So, that got me thinking about how a mother would feel if her one and only very eligible son brought home a girl 12 years older than him, a girl who was her best friend’s daughter, and how it would impact the friendships she had with other her best friend and other women.
I decided to merge this with a real-life story I had read about in the East Coast magazine India-West, regarding a young man in New York City who had left his colleague to die in a burning car because he was driving drunk. When I put the older girlfriend and the drunk driver in the same household, I had a dysfunctional family and a story to tell.
Do you have a favorite chapter?
What a good question! Yes, I do. I like chapter 26 the most. This is because it gives both the genesis of Sameer‘s alcoholism and the start of his redemption in prison. I also love the way the scene of the attack plays out. I have to thank my incredible agent Jessica Faust for this. In earlier drafts, I had Sameer reliving the trauma of his past with Gus being the perpetrator of sexual abuse in prison, and on reading it, my agent told me that it was just too predictable. Therefore I decided to shift the attack to the prison kitchen instead, and the scene of the racist slur came to me only as I rewrote the chapter.
No Ordinary Thursday by Anoop Judge
Genre: Domestic Fiction
No Ordinary Thursday by Anoop Judge follow the story of Lena Sharma who is an immigrant and a runs a successful restaurant. On the outside she has created a traditional close-knit family to her Indian community. But things start to unravel for Lena, her children and her mother. Readers follow Lena to find out of she can find her way back, while also watching Lena deal with the downward spirl of her brother and his addition. Can they all find their way back to each other?
See my book index for more book recs.
What is it you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope, first and foremost, that readers learn about Indian traditions from this book. No Ordinary Thursday is replete with details of fashion, food, and celebrations so that readers with no prior knowledge of Indian customs will see the mandap decorated with fresh flowers, hear the dhol, and taste the karahi chicken curry. More importantly, I want readers to connect with the universal family struggles and themes of belonging, forgiveness, and acceptance, and not just Indian American readers.
Did you always want to be an author?
No. I am an attorney and litigator by trade, but I was forced to hang up my robes (in a sense) after my daughter developed an auto-immune condition, and I stayed home to care for her and raise my children. At that time, I turned to my first love, which was writing. I studied English literature at Delhi University, and while pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I was both a reporter for All India Radio and a columnist for Mid-day magazine with my own weekly column called College Beat.
When I was in my second year in law school in New Delhi, I was approached by a publishing company in New Delhi called Twenty-Twenty Media that had brought out a series of Dummies-style books in the 90s about different careers open to college graduates. That 98-page book titled “Law: What It’s All About, And How To Get In” made me fall in love with the writing process. (see the book on my website.) I vowed to myself that when I would have the time and the luxury to do so, I would write again, this time the kind of novels I love reading. Thus, about ten years ago, my writing career took birth.
How long did it take you to write No Ordinary Tuesday?
I would say that from start to finish, it took me two years to write the first draft of the manuscript, but then it went through four edits with three different editors and one with my agent when she acquired it. So, all in all, it was a three-year process.
Where can readers find you on social media?
I love hearing from readers, so if you’d like to get in touch, you can find me at www.anoopjudge.com or visit me on Facebook (anoopjudgeauthor), Instagram (@judgeanoop), and Twitter (@judgeanoop).
Anything else you want to add before I let you go?
The latest statistics, as reported in a New York Times article, state that just 11 percent of books published in 2018 were written by people of color. To be agented after eight years of querying and for No Ordinary Thursday to be published by a major publisher is not a blessing I take for granted.
To all the readers out there who are interested in reading diverse stories and learning more about the rich culture of their neighbors, I say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
That concludes Author Anoop Judge Interview!
Be sure to leave a comment for Anoop in the comment section below. You can also contact me here if you’re interested in an interview!
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