Manoj Jain, the author of The BNO and THC, is all set for the release of his new publication Ramona, a sequel to his previous book Balraj. While Balraj was a man who left behind his family and other worldly possessions to fulfill his spiritual journey, Ramona deals with the repercussions and consequences of that very action and how the world he left behind changed completely.
I recently interviewed him regarding his latest book as well as his future projects and he was gracious enough to answer each one of my queries. Manoj holds a degree from IIM Ahmedabad as well as one in psychology, which explains his interest in people, their relationships, reasons for their behavior and how circumstances shape them as a person. And this is how the interview started -:
Q.This is a sequel to your previous book Balraj, how different would you say it is from the former?
Ramona is a book that is more important than Balraj in some ways. 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 ones own hand, in the backyard of ones house. He learnt 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 there by opinions, beliefs which made her act counter-productive to events in her lufe 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.
Q.What made you think of this concept ?
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.Do you consider Ramona to be a light read or a thought provoking book ?
Ramona is a thought provoking read for sure
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 familes 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.
Q.If you had to describe this book in one line, what would it be ?
Ramona is book that answers many questions and helps a reader to clear their thinking
Q.How did you select the name of the principle character ?
I started writing the book in the flight but could not decide on the names. I had chosen Ramona as a random name which I stuck with. I knew the protagonist would be Balraj as it had a warm note to the sound, it was a name that sounded trustworthy and positive. For Inder’s name, I messaged a friend and asked for a few suggestions. When I saw the suggestions and saw Inder, I knew that was t he right name for my character
Q.What was your hardest scene to write ?
Writing chapter 5 on the ABCDE analysis was the toughest part- I wanted to give a way to deal with issues but did not want it to come across a self help chapter. I had to walk the thin line of too much introspection and the possibility that a reader would get bored. I made a few readers read the chapter a few times and kept re-working on it. Many wanted the process of introspection to be longer but I added only a few paragraphs. I had to change the phrases during t he ABCDE and add small side lines to not make that part sound too text bookish.
Q.Can you describe your writing process ?
My writing process is a free flow style which is how people think and talk. At one point I thought I should stop writing as I was not writing in a structured manner like an author is supposed to.
Q.Have you ever suffered from writer’s block ?
Not uptil now. My four books flowed very fast but I am suffering from the infamous writers block for the 5th book. It’s a difficult topic and the characters are not speaking to me. It is frustrating.
Q.Any advice you would like to give to other aspiring writers ?
I have no message for any aspiring writers- we all travel in our space and will find our own paths. Go for it.
Q.What’s the next step in your writing career ?
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.
RAMONA is a short story that started as an addendum to BALRAJ. However, it became an independent book that makes one realize how a change in circumstances can change personalities of people and why people behave the way they do. It is an interesting read for sure. So what are you waiting for, grab your copy now. Just contact me and I shall be more than happy to send you a copy of the same.