The time it was about Much Ado About Nada

Posted June 13, 2023 by Stacee in Interviews | 2 Comments

When I got the opportunity to interview Uzma Jalaluddin, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.  I’m a huge fan of her debut and a straight up sucker for anything Jane Austen related.  Once I saw that her new release Much Ado About Nada was inspired by Persuasion, I died and then sent over questions.

Before we get to Uzma’s answers, let’s check out the book.

Title: Much Ado About Nada
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Pages: 320
Publisher: Berkley
Pub Date: June 13, 2023
Find it: PRH | Indiebound | Bookshop | Goodreads

Synopsis: Nada Syed is stuck. On the cusp of thirty, she’s still living at home with her brothers and parents in the Golden Crescent neighbourhood of Toronto, resolutely ignoring her mother’s unsubtle pleas to get married already. While Nada has a good job as an engineer, it’s a far cry from realizing her start-up dreams for her tech baby, Ask Apa, the app that launched with a whimper instead of a bang because of a double-crossing business partner. Nothing in her life has turned out the way it was supposed to, and Nada feels like a failure. Something needs to change, but the past is holding on too tightly to let her move forward.

Nada’s best friend Haleema is determined to pry her from her shell…and what better place than at the giant annual Muslim conference held downtown, where Nada can finally meet Haleema’s fiancé, Zayn. And did Haleema mention Zayn’s brother Baz will be there?

What Haleema doesn’t know is that Nada and Baz have a past–some of it good, some of it bad and all of it secret. At the conference, that past all comes hurtling at Nada, bringing new complications and a moment of reckoning. Can Nada truly say goodbye to once was or should she hold tight to her dreams and find their new beginnings?

Sounds good, right?

1. Please give the elevator pitch for Much Ado About Nada.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NADA is a second-chance romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, set in a massive Muslim convention in Toronto.

2. Which came first: the characters or the plot?

Neither. Theme usually comes first for me. I think about a central thematic question, or maybe a series of questions or ideas I want to explore, then build characters and setting around that. Plot is the last thing that I think up – which is why I so often rewrite my novels many times. For this novel, I wanted to explore the way that female ambition is so often impacted by culture and identity.

3. Why do you love Nada and why should readers root for her?

Nada is a deeply empathetic and relatable person. She carries the burden of many regrets, and is not sure how to move forward with her life. She’s made mistakes, both professionally and romantically, and these mistakes can’t be undone. So, she starts the novel feeling very stuck and powerless in her life. I hope readers will find her journey to getting unstuck affirming and entertaining.

4. Were there any weird things you googled while drafting?

No, what are you implying? I never google weird things at all.

5. Without spoilers, which scene was your favorite to write?

The book is set in a massive Muslim convention in Toronto (think comic-con but with hijabs and beards). I’ve attended many of these conventions in Toronto and the United States, so it was fun to build one in my imagination. There’s one scene that happens on stage during the convention and all I’ll say is there is singing and a very hot Muslim rock star. I had a lot of fun putting that together.

Speed {ish} round:

1. You find out that you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes.

As I recall it was a few minutes of shock, re-reading the email a few times, followed by jumping up and down, screaming, and telling my husband immediately. Repeat.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

A case of water, a fully charged solar-powered satellite phone, and sunscreen. I know I should say a book, a bikini, and a gorgeous actor, but I’m too practical, and also happily married.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

This is a trick question, and as a high school teacher I say unfair. Give me my library, or give me death.

4. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

Publishing is opaque, disappointing, exhilarating, surprising, full of supportive, kind and the most hard-working people you will ever meet, and you’ll never know what tomorrow will bring (both infamy and oblivion are on the table, frequently at the same time). So instead of sulking or worrying, work on your next project. Just keep writing.

5. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently?

Actually, I have no idea how it plays out because I never read the series or watched the movies. I know, I know, sacrilege. A few of my students did tell me what happened so I guess… make better choices? Move? Don’t fall in love with a sparkly vampire?


Uzma Jalaluddin grew up in a diverse suburb of Toronto, but her favorite place in the world is the nearest bookstore or library. Her debut novel, AYESHA AT LAST (2019), was a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, Cosmopolitan UK Book of the Year and Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2019. Her second novel, HANA KHAN CARRIES ON (2021) was an instant Canadian bestseller, and named a Best Romance Novel by the Washington Post. It is currently in development for film by Amazon Studios and Mindy Kaling.

Uzma is a former contributor to The Toronto Star, and has written for The Atlantic. She lives near Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two sons, where she also teaches high school. website | instagram | twitter


Huge thanks to Berkley for the invite and to Uzma for taking the time. Much Ado About Nada releases today and buy links are above.

Have you read Uzma’s books? Which is your favorite?

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