Interview: A candid conversation with Manoj Jain

It’s never late to understand your passion. There is no age, no season, and no limit to follow one’s passion and follow them. When I was asked to review one of this author’s book; after reading his background; a little budding writer thought why not I interview him and share his journey so far with the new ones as well.

Meet Mr. Manoj Jain, author of two novels, Balraj and the recently published Ramona.

The below interview is focused on his new novel, Ramona, and what is so different about the book that a reader should order their copy! Apart from sharing his experience and ideology behind Ramona, he also shares a piece of quick advice for newcomers and damn, you just can’t miss on this one.


  1. What inspired you to write about Ramona? Was there some inspiration in real life to sketch this character? 

I think there is a bit of Ramona in many people, whether they are male or female, who cling to memories, spend their thoughts in the past and let the small things spoil a perfectly good life. All of us tend to be myopic in our vision and the issues that Ramona must resolve are universal. The cycle of grief, coping with the situation and utilizing therapy to change one’s outlook are things that we all resonate with. Since all my books discuss the intricacies of human nature, I think we all, in part, resonate with the characters at some level in some situations. Ramona is not a real-life person on whom the book is based, but a character who identifies issues faced by many of us.

 

  1. What inspired Author Manoj to write Ramona? 

Soon after Balraj was published, I started to get many messages from family, friends, and readers. Many expressed that they wanted to know what happened to Ramona and to Inder’s family once he left. While most enjoyed Inder’s metamorphosis into Balraj and his subsequent journey, they felt that Ramona had been given some kind of raw deal and her story too should be told.

As I started writing Ramona, a friend remarked there were many women in Ramona’s position who have also got stuck in life without growing to be their own person. So I decided to develop Ramona to show the way as Balraj had done.

 

  1. How is Ramona’s story different from any other women-led book of the recent times? 

Ramona is an interesting book…while the story deals with a woman who is deserted by her husband and her life in the nine months before they meet again. It talks of important concepts of coping (universal theories in psychology which are used for a variety of topics ranging from AIDS patients to families of people who have passed away), about Male egos and how woman have been made subjected to a lot of subtle suppressions, roles that women adhere to, and self-help therapy for a person to come out of everyday petty problems. The book is with a female protagonist but there are many small incidents that a reader of either sex can identify with or learn from. It’s a short novel but I daresay an important and compelling book.

Balraj and Ramona are both on paths of self-realization. Balraj needed to step out of his comfortable world (which was yet troubling him) to learn his own lessons on life culminating with the line that happiness lies in the palms of one’s own hand, in the backyard of ones house. He learned many things along the way, small lessons but important ones.

Ramona, on the other hand, did not leave her house but she realized that she had shunned happiness which was thereby opinions, beliefs which made her act counter-productive to events in her life and reactions to small incidents. She had to go through her session with ABCDE therapy and self-introspection to understand how she could find happiness (in the same place that Balraj found it): it existed in her own house, under her own control

Therefore both stories need to be read in tandem.

 

  1. Does the author believe Ramona is a continuation of his earlier book Balraj or is this book one of its own kind? 

Ramona was never intended to be a full-length book. I had planned to have it available free of charge on my website. However, she had plans of her own and her own destiny and her story eventually became a novella that got published

If you read Ramona, I assume you have read the first part called Balraj. I recommend you read that book before you read Ramona. If you do not wish to or cannot, it does not matter as Ramona the book (and eventually the character) can stand on her own, independently

 

  1. What inspired you to write about Ramona? Was there some inspiration in real life to sketch this character? 

My earlier answer explained the reasons for writing Ramona so I will take on the second part of the question. Ramona is not inspired by a single character…she is an amalgamation of different woman and their experiences as seen and studied by me. Ramona crosses gender as many of the issues are universally experienced by men and women.

 

  1. Three similarities and three dissimilarities between Ramona and a woman of today’s century. 

I think there is a bit of Ramona in many people, whether male or female, who cling on to memories and let the small things spoil a perfectly good life. All of us tend to be myopic in our vision and the issues that Ramona must resolve are universal. The cycle of grief, coping, therapy to change one’s outlook are things that we all resonate with. Since all my books discuss human nature, I think we all resonate in part with the characters

 

  1. As a man, how hard or easy was to sketch Ramona after a successful portrayal? 

My protagonists in other books have been predominantly male. It was a challenge to write Ramona, an entire boo from a woman’s perspective. I did have about five women readers go through the draft to see if I had got a woman thinking correctly or if I was too off the mark.

 

  1. Who is the TG for the book? 

While the earlier book, Balraj was targeted at genders and age group, RAMONA is definitely of greater interest to women in the age category of 30 plus; preferably married women or those in a relationship.

However as I said before, there are many aspects of the book which are universal and cut across genders. According to me, there are many lessons to be learned and Ramona is a must read for all adults although its target group may be married women.

 

  1. Author Manoj has the interest to study human relationships, psychologies, behaviour and circumstances. How does this interest help framing books for him? 

I think all these points jointly amalgamate to help write books- it comes from observing and mentally storing different things, small innocuous things that happen around you that tell stories of their own. Meeting people, talking to them at length, intimately, hearing them tell their lives without judging their words helps build up a cache in the mind.

Travelling, seeing different lives, different worlds helps in building situations and stories

And then living life fully, experiencing different emotions helps to create images.

These combined with formal studies in psychology go a long way in writing the books

 

  1. There are many budding writers who might look forward to a learning message. What piece of advice Author Manoj would give them? 

From what I have learned, it is a word of mouth that makes a book successful.

Now your question is quite different – it says what are the ingredients to become a successful author- for that you need to know what is success for the person. For me, I became successful (in my own eyes) when my book was published and read and I started getting feedback. In today’s world of social media, with everyone having little time, plenty of content on twitter and facebook, with blogs and apps, it is increasingly difficult to find success in terms of sales as an author dreams of. You need to go to basics and evaluate what success means to you.

 

 REVIEW OF BOTH THE BOOKS WILL BE UP ON THE BLOG SOON; MEANWHILE ORDER YOUR COPY OF BALRAJ & RAMONA NOW. 

 

 

 

 

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