Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interview with author Manoj Jain

In a conversation with Manoj Jain, author of the book The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah). The book is about a night out involving 8 men and two girls. To read the complete book review, visit Book Review : The Boys Night Out - Manoj Jain.

-- Interview with author Manoj Jain --

Q: “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” made you a published author, how does it feel to see your name on a book cover?
A: I have to admit it was a great moment for me when the book was published and I yet think of it as a personal achievement. But life moves fast and we need to go along with that so the initial euphoria wears off and one goes on to the next dream.

Q: How did you come up with the entire plot of “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)”? Something that you observed? Something that compelled you to?
A: I was looking for a theme in which I could briefly touch upon various topics, and the different states of modern day marriages. The plot came to me when I was sitting with friends at a bar and saw a group of men enjoying their boys night out. It seemed a perfect backdrop to the stories I wished to tell.

Q: What was your reaction when you first came to know that “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” will be a published book?
A: It was exciting and I was thrilled - I was also a little nervous due to the topic of the book in a conservative society. But I have to admit, I was already working on a second book so my energies were diverted.

Q: Apart from “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” have you written anything else that we should know about?
A: There is a gentle book on healing that’s due to be published soon - its called the THC. It is about healing and deals with uncomfortable topics like a loss of virility, marriages of convenience, the delicate relationship between fathers and sons. It has a psychological backbone as well and is again mature in its content. I am really happy with it (and yet again nervous).

Q: What can we expect from you in the near future?
A: I have outlines for a few more books. I already told you about the THC just now - I have started working on a third book which deals with teenagers, young adults and the psychological issues they face as well as schooling in the past and now. I also have in mind a futuristic novel in a dystopian world which raises philosophical questions.

Q: Can you tell us something about the experience of getting your books published? How difficult or convenient it was?
A: As a first time author, with no background in the world of books, I found it daunting. I sent my books to a few publishers, but the theme of the BNO was too mature in its content to be accepted easily by some of them. I had promised myself not to have high expectations and not to feel let down. I am not very young so it is easier to accept reality and rejections without losing too much hope. One knows it will happen when the time is right. In the beginning, I was also unaware of the role that social media played in promoting a book. It has been a nice learning and a pleasant journey in the publishing world.

Q: Tell us about the support you received from your family and friends while you were writing the book?
A: For me my family is everything and they have been extremely supportive and encouraging. I know the theme of the book can be awkward and embarrassing especially for my teenage children but all of them were very helpful and positive in their attitude.
Interview with author Manoj Jain
Interview with author Manoj Jain
Q: Apart from being a published author what do you do professionally?
A: I am a businessman, and manage a large export firm. I started this business 25 years ago and it keeps me very busy. My work allows me to travel all over the world; I meet interesting people, hear different stories and keep an open mind. I am an alumnus from IIM Ahmedabad and have given my exams for my Masters degree in psychology in counselling. I study Spanish and French and pride myself to be a cunning linguist.

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 have always wanted to be a writer since I was young. It was just that I also wanted to do so many other things - I never thought I would actually write and have a book published. My nephew encouraged me, friends who read the first few chapters pushed me and I completed the BNO. I am big believer of destiny, so maybe it was written in the stars.

Q: “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” is an adult fiction, why did you take this genre to write being a debut author?
A: I never chose a topic strategically nor did I plan to slot myself in any genre. I had a story in my mind and I wrote it without evaluating the genre. I live in a fairly open minded family and I did not think of my book as very raunchy or sexual. I do sometimes think that I should have been more guarded in my positioning but then I am essentially a free spirit and did not want to be curbed.

Q: How much of “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” is fictional, real and inspired?
A: The topic is adult but the underlying stories talk of everyday topics too - of bored marriages, of infidelities, of secret desires and too much alcohol - all very commonplace topics in the society we live in. If you look around you, you will see the stories in the BNO are very real - as an author, I just held lifted the carpet and held a mirror to reflect what had been hidden under - the BNO is a reflection of the times, a slice of urban life in our metros.

Q: Tell us about, how writing is a part of your daily life?
A: I have always been a keen observer of human behavior and once you begin putting your thoughts onto paper, one realizes that there are stories to be told all around you. I would be writing a lot more but my work and travel take up most of my working hours. I am fond of the written word- I often write letters to my children who live abroad, poems to myself and cards to my wife. When I sit to write stories, I can pen several hundred words in a day.

Q: How did you finalize the cover of the book? Did you have more options?
A: I had two options initially, both of which were developed. The first option was a glass of whisky on a black background, whiffs of hookah smoke in the background and a reflection of a girls face on the glass. The second option is as seen on the cover (more scandalous and very much in line with the book). I found it difficult to decide between the two options but I felt this option reflected the book better and went ahead with it.

Q: Can you tell us something interesting that you have heard about “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)”, a review, a critic, etc..?
A: Actually since the book is controversial, there were may comments and reviews that were interesting. An early review on Amazon wrote that the author must have been drunk when he penned the book and he wants to read more. In a family gathering, an uncle called the book pornographic. Many wrote in that the book reflected many of their thoughts and it was true to life. In a party, people mention that the BNO seems so real.

Q: Being a conservative society that we live in, do you think that everyone has a darker side? What makes them indulge in such activities if they are considered a taboo?
A: All humans have many layers, most of which are kept hidden. In a conservative Society this is more rampant as one is concealing so much of one’s life and thoughts as Society is not yet open to accept these. So there is a lot of repression which becomes psychologically damaging and many topics that should be resolved are swept under the carpet. Topics are considered taboo by society but an individual cannot control his views – however he needs to fit in with Society  so he must keep these hidden.

Q: Do you read as much as you write? Which are your favorite books and authors?
A: I have always been a big reader - my teenage years were influenced by Ayn Rand and Richard Bach, I then graduated to Sartre, Gide, Hesse, Maugham, Capote, Miller, Wodehouse, Hamsun. Among the authors that I have enjoyed a lot, I have to mention Gore Vidal and his lovely books Myra as well as Kalki.

Q: You prefer reading e-books or the traditional paper/hard back book?
A: I hate to say it, but I do prefer the traditional paperback. I have many books on my kindle but I yet prefer holding a book and flipping the pages and earmarking them. I do not like hard back books as I am constantly on the move and they are bulky and heavy to carry in flight.

Q: Two things that you like and dislike about “Adult Fiction”?
A: I dislike when sex is unnecessarily thrown in only to titillate. While The BNO has a lot of adult content, I tried to stay away from pulp. I have always enjoyed adult fiction because as a psychologist, I know the themes discussed are very often the drives for all humans.

Q: If your book “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)” is made in a Bollywood movie, who do you think should play the lead characters?
A: I am not a movie buff but I do like intelligent acting- so I will go with who I know. The men in the book are in their early 40s so I think actors like Farhan Akhtar would be ideal.

Q: If you have to give one reason to our readers to get hold of your book, “The BNO (Sex, Life and Hookah)”, what would the reason be?
A: It is for them to learn that you need to embrace your shadows - they exist because you do - be comfortable with yourself, your hidden self and know that others too have similar thoughts as your private ones.

-- End of Interview with author Manoj Jain --
You can order a copy of the book from Amazon and Flipkart.
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