Today we are chatting with Jesmeen Kaur Deo, author of TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE
Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!
Meet Jesmeen Kaur Deo:
Jesmeen Kaur Deo grew up in northern British Columbia, where she spent most of her childhood daydreaming. She loves books that can make her laugh and tug at her heartstrings in the same paragraph. When not wrapped up in stories, she can be found biking, playing the harmonium, or struggling to open jars. TJ Powar Has Something to Prove is her debut novel.
About the Book: TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE
When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.
She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.
As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Growing up, I always wondered why the female protagonists in the books I read or TV shows I watched never seemed to worry about their body hair. They could be in a post apocalyptic world, but you still wouldn’t ever see even the smallest armpit hair! It made me wonder if I was the weird one. Anyway, I think that subconsciously inspired my desire to write a book that explicitly acknowledged body hair on women. And more close to when I started writing the book, a good friend of mine and I had also been talking a lot about performative beauty standards because we were frustrated with empty body positivity messaging. I wanted to write something that didn’t flinch away from the “ugliness” of our own bodies or the idea that this could co-exist with romance.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel! The title went through 2 other iterations before my editor suggested TJ Powar Has Something to Prove. I thought that was so apt! And I have learned I am not generally very good at titles myself.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I think I am most proud of the final debate scene in the book. It was very technically difficult. It went through a lot of different iterations and painstaking revision in my attempts to make it entertaining and relevant and thematic, while also making sense with the plot and the nature of debate structure itself.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Through my experiences navigating publishing, and many ups and downs, I’ve learned how important it is to maintain the joy of writing for myself. It’s hard to block out all the unsolicited advice and industry-related pressures authors often face… but ultimately I realized the only way I will have any longetivity as a writer is if I protect my love of storytelling. For me, the right path is to focus on that. To write the stories that are meaningful to me. The rest is less important.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love how unapologetically hairy TJ is on the cover. She’s bold and daring and eye-catching. Fatima Baig, the artist, and Kristie Radwilowicz, the designer, did a great job. Also, I’ve had lots of people say they love the knuckle hair on the cover, and I’m especially proud of that because I specifically asked the team to add it!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2022?
So many! Today I will pick: A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar because heist on the Titanic, need I say more? The Loophole by Naz Kutub because I love genie stories! And Lioness of Punjab by Anita Jari Kharbanda since it portrays the life of a famous Sikh historical figure, Mai Bhago!
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir absolutely annihilated me.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Charlie, one of TJ’s rival debaters from another school, gave me the most trouble because he always did something I didn’t expect. There is one pivotal point in the book I distinctly remember where he made my life harder because he was too honest. It was right for his character, but I had to fix an entire plotline from that point forward because of it.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
Generally speaking, I want readers to understand there is nothing monstrous or shameful about their bodies. But of course, I wrote this book specifically wanting hairy brown girls to feel seen. I want them to understand that they are worthy of love and respect and desire. And I want not only hairy girls but also their friends, peers, partners, and future parents to consider that eurocentric, gendered beauty norms are harmful and frankly, quite boring; reject them, and cultivate your own.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I am excellent at selecting the best oranges at the grocery store. It is one of my more useful skills, I have to say.
Book’s Title: TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE
Author: JESMEEN KAUR DEO
Release Date: JUNE 7, 2022
Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers
ISBN-10 : 0593403398
ISBN-13 : 978-0593403396
Reading age : 12 – 17 years
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy
One winner will receive a copy of TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE (JESMEEN KAUR DEO) ~ US ONLY
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*