Q. Hi Mr. Manoj Jain, and thank you for agreeing this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
By profession I am a businessman running my own export company, a business I started after I completed my studies at IIM Ahmedabad. I have always wanted to Write and I finally made the plunge, writing during my business travels. Besides my business and travels, I keep busy with my ongoing psychology studies as well as learning Spanish. I believe that a person should constantly learn and grow oneself.
Q. What led you to your book, “Ramona”?
Soon after Balraj was published, I started to get many messages from my family, friends and readers. Many expressed that they wanted to know what happened to Ramona and to Balraj’s family once he left. While most people enjoyed Inder’s metamorphosis into Balraj and his subsequent journey, they felt that Ramona had been given some kind of a raw deal and her story too deserves to be told.
As I started writing Ramona, a friend remarked that there are many women who, just like Ramona, somewhere got stuck in life without growing to be their own person, even if due to dissimilar circumstances. So I decided to write Ramona to show a way out of this grind, as Balraj had done.
Q. What is the easiest thing about writing?
The writing is the easiest and fun part. The editing and the re-reading of the Book is the tough part. The marketing part is the toughest and the part I used to shy form…but over a period of time, I have less resistance to book readings etc
Q. What motivates you to write?
Writing a book for me helps me express many things: what I have seen, what I have learnt, what I want to share, some thoughts, feelings. When I write a book, it takes a lot of energy and I become inward looking and quieter and more withdrawn. But when it comes out, it feels like one has given birth (accompanied by the post-natal depression )
I am glad I have written books- not only is it a realization of my dreams (that seems less important to me now), it has helped shape me and become myself. It is helping me to complete myself.
Q. When did you decide that you want to be a writer?
I knew as a child that I wanted to be an Author. I wrote several short stories in my teens and early twenties. I have been writing poetry forever. By the time I entered the world of business, I reconciled that I would now never write a book. I lost confidence seeing the beautiful way the modern authors expressed themselves. When I was in my late 40s, my nephew suggested I write a blog. Once I started to write for the blog, my son encouraged me to elaborate on it, consequently the story grew and became my first novel.
Q. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I must admit that I keep checking reviews to see them. Good reviews make me preen (just a little) and bad reviews do sadden me… it was much more acute in my first and scond book. By the time I wrote Balraj, I was more confident about the book and its reception and the reviews seemed to matter lesser and lesser.
I am fortunate that I do not have to depend upon writing as my livelihood. I write because I want to and I am very happy I did. If others enjoy or benefit from the books then it makes me happy.
Q. What do you prefer: Pen or Computer? And how do you stay organised (any methods, systems, tools you use)?
I tend to write on the computer, lying in bed on my stomach and typing furiously. When I am travelling in the car or flight, I often type the stories on my phone on nortes and then email myself the part so I can save it.
I am always nervous that my computer crash, I will lose the story written so far, so I email it to a friend every time I write so I have a copy of what has been written to date. I also do keep notes of thoughts on the book in point form to include and build on as the book progresses but these are fewer than I should
Q. How do you relax?
I like to go for a walk every day, do yoga when I am in Mumbai. Meeting friends over a coffee and late night gossip session is another perfect way for me to relax.
Q. What would you have done differently if you could do it again?
Alas, too many things…I would have done many things differently but then that is what growing up is all about I suppose.
Q. Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I am 52 years old although I feel forever young. I enjoy my life a lot. I am married (24 years ago) to a wife who balances me. I tend to not have too many filters so say and do things that cross a limit- my wife helps me with this problem.
I have two children, who are my life and biggest weakness. They study out of Mumbai- to make up for their absence, I got a Golden retriever puppy (a childhood dream that materialized) who helps fill the void and lets me survive my children’s departure.
I am always struggling to lose weight- I work out and do yoga but I always seem to put on weight – I probably eat wrongly despite a wife and a sister and friends who are qualified nutritionists. I love to smoke and I give up for a long period of time and get back on it especially when I am writing. I do not enjoy alcohol as much and drink with close friends to get drunk on special occasions. I am blessed with being part of a big family with close relationships with my sisters and their kids as well. I have many friends and they are part of my heart and life, they make life fun.
I love art, reading, theatre, movies; I am not fond of watching TV or celebrity news.
Q. Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again & again?
I love to read books again and again. Books that I have read several times over include Animal Farm, We the Living, Fountainhead, Kalki, Myra Beckinridge…what one reads in the book changes with every passing age and one discovers a new side and facet to the book and its charachters with every read.
Q. Your influence(s)/ favourite author(s)?
I have grown up reading and this is an impossible questions. Different authors were favourites at different times of ones life . During my teenage years, I devoured Ayn Rand and Richard Bach, and as an adult enjoyed Gore Vidal and Alexander McCall Smith. Of course one always loved Maugham, Hesse, Wodehouse and there are just too many. Each author has its own place in a readers life.
Q. Are you working on anything at the moment? When can we see your next work?
I am working on a rather difficult cook- its called DYSTOPIA and deals with issues on growing up, adolescence and coming of age. I am really happy with it. I expect a lot of response as it covers many different ideas and should resonate with all readers. I hope it will release in the first few months of 2018.
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