Kev’s Author Interviews Presents…
A Short Bio
Okay, here is the short bio of this very short person who has huge dreams and tall aspirations.
In terms of my writing achievements, I can say that I have written two novels (Lemon Girl and Dream’s Sake) and have more than 5 years of experience of working as a freelance writer. During these five years I abridged 30 famous English classics including Jane Eyre, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn etc. I also developed some original books for kids and wrote several English exercise kits. Several of my articles have also been published in Indian national magazines and newspapers.
My first novel Dream’s Sake was published by V&S Publishers in 2011. My second novel Lemon Girl has been self-published. It released in November 2014. Both the books are winning high appreciation from readers and reviewers.
I also have a personal blog and a technology blog and have won several national and international level blogging and writing competitions.
Currently, I’m living in Ghaziabad, India. And I’m trying desperately to snatch some time from compulsive reading, my job, tech blogging, net surfing, Facebooking and chatting with friends on social messaging apps. When I manage to do that and become less of a procrastinator, I am hoping to complete my third novel and bring it out soon.
Kev: What is your latest book about?
The dedication of my latest novel Lemon Girl says, “In earlier times, Indian women suffered in the name of culture. Now it’s being done in the name of loss of culture. The one thing that hasn’t changed though is that the women are still being blamed for their own injuries…”
And that’s what the book is about, injustice of blaming women for the crimes committed against them. In the past few years, sexual crimes against women seem to be on the rise in India. But whenever any such incident gets highlighted in media, someone always rises up to point an accusing finger towards the victim. Those who have seen BBC’s documentary “India’s Daughter” can guess the words that are hurled on girls and women who get sexually abused. And these accusations add to the victim’s trauma and do nothing towards curbing the real ill from the society.
Lemon Girl shows the effects that such incidents and accusations can have on a girl. And the book also stresses the value of respect and self-respect for women. It especially tries to emphasize the importance of respect in a relationship. “Not even the truest of love can survive without respect. Not even self love,” Lemon Girl says.
Finally, despite dealing with a serious social issue, Lemon Girl is an entertaining love story and shows how one can ‘rise in love.’
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
Books. I have always loved books. I found books irresistible even when I couldn’t read them. I learnt to read them even before I started going to school. However, for long, books were only a means of entertainment for me. But when I studied English Literature for my Graduation and Post Graduation courses, that’s when I realized how much skill and hard work went into writing a book. I was also amazed at how the books written centuries ago were still being read, admired and studied. That filled me with desire to try and create something like that. I too wanted my books to be read and loved just as I read and loved the books of others. So basically, my love for books gave birth to my literary dreams. And my dreams are propelling my endeavours to write better and better.
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?
My novel Lemon Girl shows effects of sexual abuse. So I researched about the post-traumatic effects of such abuse and how a victim can behave. It is a very serious issue so I did not want to deal with it carelessly.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
My first novel Dream’s Sake is a very serious book. And many readers have written to me saying that it made them cry. So I did not want my second novel to be gloomy as well. I wanted to write an entertaining book. However, the theme was burning in my heart and urging me to write about it. And abuse and victim-blaming is a theme that could easily have developed into a tear-jerker melodrama. I did not want that. Neither did I want to treat such a serious issue in a light and frivolous way just for the sake of writing an entertaining book. Keeping the book balanced between seriousness and entertainment was a tough challenge.
To achieve it, I decided to use two different narrators. The entire book has first person narrative alternating between the heroine and the hero. The parts told by the heroine are serious and thought-provoking. The hero is a bumbling young man who is not sure about anything. The parts narrated by him have a touch of humour in them and make the book entertaining.
However, using this technique was a challenge in itself. I was confident enough while writing first person narrative from the point of view of the heroine. But it was tough writing as a guy as I had to consider at every step how a man would think about such a situation or how he would express it. Fortunately, the reviews of the book have assured that I have been successful in making even my hero’s narrative real and believable.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
Nirvi, the heroine of Lemon Girl. The book is her quest of self-discovery and the recovery of her lost respect and self-respect. When Arsh, the hero sees her first, she’s like an open book. When he meets her next, she’s a deep and dark mystery shut away from own real self. And it is a long and treacherous road that she has to travel before she could meet and accept herself again.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
Nirvi’s greatest weakness is her fear that she is entirely alone and has nowhere to go. She lowers herself to many painful compromises due to this fear. This fear makes her want to maintain her hold on those that give her any kind of shelter. Even if she knows the shelter is demanding an unfair price from her.
Kev: What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
There’s no villain in the book. There are characters with weaknesses and shades of grey depicting the common prejudices and mind-set of the Indian society. It is the society that acts as the antagonist in the book. And I suppose the rules and norms that the society tries to enforce are strengthened with the sanction of customs and traditions. People think that if our ancestors set some rules, then those rules must be followed. Because that’s our culture,
People don’t understand that culture is like a flowing river. It will flow and change its course in time. Nobody can stop this change. And it’s useless to complain about its effects and do nothing about it except say that the culture is getting spoiled. Worse than this is when people say things like the culture is getting spoiled because girls now wear short clothes and are no longer modest and sacrificing. But the way we behave or dress is the effect of culture change, not the cause of it. But few bother to consider the cause, fewer bother to try and do something about it.
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
“The world might have seen lightening and rain in that thunder. I saw only fire, fire straight from Hell. Surely hell it was that they uncovered in me. Hell where my brother had played the Satan. Hell that I myself had adorned within me with numerous splendid ruins, you being the latest. One by one they all were uncovered.
And the heavens roared with anger.
Good. At least someone was angry.
More and more nightmares came racing and thundering in, crying and jolting all peace out of the skies. I did not turn away. I did not blink.
In the fire of the sky at least, there was nothing to be scared about. With wide open eyes, I welcomed it in. Thunder, to meet the thunder. To explore the deepest corners, to go where even I had not allowed myself an entry in a long while. To see all. All. It HAD to see all that day. It HAD to know. One by one, I showed it the old ruins that lay strewn on the charred landscape. Roars of rage rippled through the sky. Good, good, it felt good. The thunder raged on, inwards and outwards. Raged on, burning and cauterizing. And freeing me of the deads. Dead relations, dead hopes, dead dreams, dead beliefs and trusts, all dead. Nothing was binding now.
There was fire in the sky. There was fire in my heart. But still all was drowned in darkness. Utter darkness.
But there’s nothing so pure as darkness, Arsh. And in this purity, no disguise is required.
And when there’s not even a ray to contaminate the dark, the sight turns inwards. The world does not matter then, because it’s dark. And out of your reach. There’s only one person alive. And you are forced to meet that person face to face. You can’t escape.
I met her too that day, six months ago. Face to face. The same day when you refused her. I met her. She was alive. Mad, raging, gasping, but alive.
I’ll keep her alive.
Kev: When you write, do write off-the-cuff or do you use some kind of formula?
I don’t chart out a very rigid plan of my books before starting them. But I do try and flesh out my characters. Both my books are character driven. So once the characters are ready, they help me take the story forward. After that, I just plan out the story portion by portion.
Kev: How do you deal with writers-block?
I have learnt that if I run after ideas, they will make me chase them hard. But if I just sit and pretend to ignore them, they come looking for me. That is, when I feel short of good ideas, I don’t try to force my way to them. I busy myself in other pursuits. And sooner or later, the ideas start pouring in again. Often at most inconvenient times like when I’m half asleep!
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
Kev: What is your process for editing your work?
Read and revise. Take a break of few days. Then read again and revise again and go on doing so till I feel satisfied. I take a long time in editing my book. But I consider the time well spent that’s spent in making my book better.
Kev: How did you come up with the title, Lemon Girl?
I decided this name even before I had started writing the book. I was only thinking about the book at that time, collecting ideas and trying to decide the characters. The way I pictured my heroine, her freshness and vitality suggested the word lemon to me. And that soon suggested the words Lemon Girl. And when I heard those words in my mind, I at once decided that I was going to use them as the title of the book.
I know, Lemon Girl sounds an unusual title for a book that’s based on a serious social issue. And the way I came upon it may seem it sound like the result of a whim. But the title actually has a very marked relevance in the story. It represents the real personality of the heroine Nirvi. She is a boisterous and carefree girl, full of wit and tangy retorts. She has a delicious freshness to her. That’s what earns her the nickname of Lemon Girl from the hero. But later, Lemon Girl is made to feel that her free and frank ways are wrong. She gives them up. She gives up her real self and assumes a disguise. In short, she gives up being a Lemon Girl. But thankfully, the Lemon Girl refuses to give up on herself. The whole book is a struggle between the real and assumed personalities of Nirvi and her quest to recover herself. The quest of Nirvi to recover the Lemon Girl in her.
Kev: Do you think the book cover is important?
Yes, of course. The world is ruled by appearances. And our perception of anything is governed to a large extent by how it appears before us. An impressive looking cover definitely helps in making the prospective reader interested in the book. A bad cover can prejudice a reader against the book. People do say that a book should not be judged by its cover. But then, it is also said that the first impression is the last impression. And since cover is the first thing that the readers see, it is what creates the first impression. And this first impression has to be good and effective to convert a prospective reader into a reader.
Kev: Which publishing platform do you prefer and why?
I prefer reading ebooks. But as an author, I want my books to be available in every platform possible. I don’t want to restrict the choices of my readers because of my personal preferences.
Kev: Do you face any daunting obstacles during the publishing process?
Getting a book published in itself is very daunting. Even harder than writing a book.
My first novel Dream’s Sake had to wait a long time before it was finally selected by a publisher. But at that time, I was very inexperienced about the market demands and trends. I had written an epic length tragedy at a time when the readers were preferring short and light entertainers. Finally, I had to reduce the length of my book by more than half before it was considered acceptable as per current market trends.
My second novel Lemon Girl is shorter and based on a very current theme. I did not want to make it wait too long and so decided to self-publish it. Self-publishing has made it easier to bring your book out in the market. But the road towards finding readership is harder for a self-published book, unless the writer is resourceful enough to get the book in bookstores and manage to generate good hype about it. That is where I’m facing the greatest hurdle now.
Kev: What methods do you use to promote your work?
I use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to talk about my books. I share excerpts from the book on these websites. I also try and use Goodreads.
I’m also trying to get many reviews for Lemon Girl on blogs. I have always found bloggers willing to help and eager to read books. They are also trusted by their followers and so if a blogger says that a book is good, their dedicated followers are more likely to believe it. The publicity thus generated may not be as big as when the book gets featured on a newspaper. But it still is valuable and helpful.
Kev: Do you have any advice for new authors?
Writing is hard. Getting published is harder. Getting successful as a writer is the hardest. There are many bumps on this road waiting to make you fall and get bruised. But if you really care about your writing, have faith in it and write on. Learn from your mistakes, learn from the reviews you get. And write on.
Kev: Which social media platforms do you use the most?(feel free to put links here)
For personal interactions with my friends and family, I use Facebook most.
However, for my readers and fans, I’m available on all major platforms:
Twitter: @ Jy0tiAr0ra
Google + : google.com/+Jyotiarora
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
First 12 chapters of Lemon Girl are available for free download on my website: http://www.jyotiarora.com/lemon-girl. I welcome all to download this free sample and check out the book.
And finally, here’s a gift for the fans and followers of Great Indie Authors. Using the coupon code JN55U, readers can download Lemon Girl from Smashwords at 50% discount.
The coupon is valid till December 31, 2015 and you’ll need to create a free account on Smashwords (if you don’t have one there already) to redeem the coupon.