Friday, September 23, 2016

Interview with author Gunjan Jain

In a conversation with Gunjan Jain, author of the book She Walks She Leads. The book is an authorized collection of growth story of 24 Indian women across various fields like sports, business, entertainment, etc. To read the complete review of the book, visit Book Review : She Walks, She Leads - Gunjan Jain

-- Interview with author Gunjan Jain --

Q: Being a published author is a different feeling altogether, how would you describe this feeling in just 5 words?
A: If I’m dreaming, let me!

Q: “She Walks, She Leads” made you a published author, what was the reaction of your friends or family members when they first heard that you will be a published author?
A: Surprise, I am sure! It was not something I had ever expressed that I would like to do. But, they also knew that I was at that stage where I was figuring out “What next?” But, they know that I am someone who allows herself to be led by her heart… so they got over their surprise pretty quick..

Q: Did you actually plan the book ”She Walks, She Leads”, or it just happened?
A: A bit of both, I guess. It started with a thought – to explore the journeys of these achievers. This thought was followed by a very vivid image of the final book that flashed in front of me. And through the process I kept that image in my vision. The process of creating the book, per se, was very planned and meticulous, like all tasks that I approach. Drawing up checklists, planning timelines and following them in as meticulous a manner as possible.

Q: Can you tell us something about the process of getting your book published as a first time author? How easy or difficult it was?

A: Honestly, that was the step I was most nervous about. I had heard how difficult it is to get a foot into the publishing world and I had no experience or connections to draw from. But, I think the manuscript did all the work for me and convinced Penguin Random House to take me on. Once, I had signed up with them, they helped me through the process and guided me through the different stages.

Q: Tell us about the support you received from your family and friends while you were writing the book?

A: Where do I start? From the obvious like a coffee machine to get me through the long hours and their generosity with the frequent flier miles to the subtle encouragement and support at every stage. Their most important contribution was their confidence in me which was the best motivation that I could have asked for. Guides, sounding boards, readers…they took on the role that I needed them to play at every stage. I feel blessed to have had their support.

Q: You got to meet a lot of great individuals during the course of writing the book, a lot of people would have envied you, any incidence that you would like to share with us?
A: I enjoyed meeting and interacting with these amazing individuals. Lots of memorable meetings. One of my favourite meetings was with Kareena Kapoor. Over the years I had read and heard a lot about her. She is a huge star in her own right, plus, she belongs to a family that goes back a few generations in Indian films. Despite the fact that she is close to my age, I was nervous. But, within minutes of meeting her, I felt like I was talking to a longtime girlfriend and not a star and the conversation flowed smoothly.

Q: Apart from “She Walks, She Leads”, have you written anything else that we should know?

A: I did a Leadership series for Forbes India last year. But, beyond that I have not written anything in the public forum. I guess you could say, She Walks, She Leads is my calling card.

Q: What can we expect from you in the near future? Any other book lined up?
A: Yes. But, I am still basking in the afterglow of She Walks, She Leads and it is still way too early to talk about my next book. All in good time!
Interview with Gunjan Jain author of the book She Walks She Leads
Interview with Gunjan Jain author of the book She Walks She Leads

Q: You took up writing as an intentional move or multiple sequence of events led to writing? Or you think you were destined to be a writer?

A: I am a great believer in destiny and the existence of a divine plan. And that was the start of my journey as an author. After that, it was up to me to make sure that I did everything in my power to make sure I followed the path that was unfolding in front of me.

Q: Being a published author, is a different feeling altogether. How do you make sure that this feeling stays alive forever?
A: Keep writing and keep publishing? I cannot imagine there being any other way!

Q: “She Walks, She Leads” is about the women achievers, there are a lot of book already written on the same topic, what was your motivation of bringing this book to life?

A: One, I think my book is a comprehensive look at these women’s journeys and does not focus on their achievements alone. Bumps, bruises and pitfalls all feature in She Walks, She Leads. Second, the third voice which is brought in by the people in these women’s lives which I believe has brought in tremendous depth to the stories. Both these points have helped in humanising these larger-than-life role models. After reading the book, the reader should feel a connection to these women.

Q: Out of all the women achievers that you have written about in your book, who inspires you the most and you have to select only one?
A: It is difficult to choose because they all have many common values and yet each one of them has some standout qualities that I wish to imbibe. But, if I have to pick one it would be Ms. Nita Ambani. She takes on so many different roles and does justice to all of them. She is indefatigable. Even if she leaps into a field completely unknown to her, she is unfazed. She does all that is possible to get acquainted with the subject and then approaches her responsibilities with gusto. She is admirable.

Q: Your book, “She Walks, She Leads” already talks about 24 Indian Women achievers, but is there any other women achiever that you wanted to write about but couldn’t?

A: Not one, so many! If there was just one I would have found a way to include her in this book. There is no dearth of women achievers in our country. My initial list consisted of 150 names and it took considerable effort for me to whittle it down to the final 24.

Q: How was your experience of getting these women achievers to talk to you? How did you make sure that they answered at their candid best?
A: It was an unforgettable experience, one that I will always cherish. At every meeting I did not just discover details about them. I also discovered facets of my ownself which I had been unaware of. I don’t think I needed to work very hard to draw them out. They are experienced and perceptive enough to guage my purpose. I think they understood my intent very clearly and thus felt confident enough to share their life stories with me.

Q: Tell us about, how writing is a part of your daily life?

A: I maintain a personal diary and I make sure that I write in it everyday. My favourite time to write is in the morning, when there are no disturbances from phone calls and messages, etc. Also, the mind feels clear and light after a good night’s sleep so the thoughts flow more freely.

Q: How did you finalize the cover of the book? Did you have more options?
A: I was obsessive about every single element about my book, probably because it is my first one. Every thing had to be just right, it had to feel right. I deliberated for many days over the cover page; after all, that is what makes the first impression on the reader. I wanted it to convey the personality of the book so I sat with the artist, till every element, every shade was perfect.

Q: Do you read as much as you write? Which are your favorite books and authors?

A: I have been a voracious reader from my school days and have always leaned more towards non-fiction. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a favourite. I also enjoy Arianna Huffington’s writing because I think she delves into topical issues and so her books are relatable. Over the years I have also read many autobiographies depending on the subject or the person that I was intrigued by at that point.

Q: You prefer reading e-books or the traditional paper/hard back book?
A: Honestly, the medium really does not matter to me. I love the smell and feel of holding a book. But, the convenience of an e-reader is unbeatable.

Q: Two things that you like and dislike about “Women”?
A: I think we are much more resilient than we get credit for and also, we can adapt to pretty much any situation we are thrown into. What I don’t like? One, we are sacrificial to a fault. We need to learn that it is okay to put ourselves first. And second, we are not great mentors for other women. If we can change this about ourselves, we will be able to bring in and retain more women in the workforce.

Q: If you have to give one reason to our readers to get hold of your book, “She Walks, She Leads”, what would the reason be?
A: We look at all these women and they seem like they are on these pedestals and it must have taken something special to get there. Yes, it has taken something special. But, that special quality is within each and every one of us. The only difference is that they found a way to unearth it. And I think through the life narratives of these 24 women, the readers will find a way to do the same.

Q: Any message you would want to share with our readers?

A: The same thing that I learnt as I wrote my book…don’t hesitate to ask for support, even those who appear the strongest need it at some point. And don’t hesitate to provide support; it is what makes the world go round.

Q: How can our readers connect with you?
A: They can follow me on Twitter (@GunjanOfficial) and if they would like to leave me a message they can either do it through my Facebook Page.

-- End of Interview with author Gunjan Jain --
You can order a copy of the book from AmazonFlipkart.
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