‘Dream’s Sake‘ by Jyoti Arora is well recommended novel, the review of which featured on BTL lately. Tonight we have Jyoti Arora herself featured on BTL, for a short discussion on life, books, writing, etc.
Biography: My name is Jyoti Arora. But of course, you already know that. I live in Ghaziabad.
Yeah, I love books.
Books, for me, were always my best, and often only, friends. They are a thing of reverence for me. They attracted me even when I couldn’t read. Maybe that’s the reason why I taught myself to read (by watching my elder sister reading) even before I started going to school. And as soon as I got the ability to comprehend the written words, I fell in love with them. So much so that when other kids of my age asked for chocolates, I coveted books instead.
Since past several years, I have also started dreaming about creating that enchanting world of fiction and fantasy. And my first endeavor in this realm has come out in the form of my debut novel ‘Dream’s Sake.’
[Excerpt Source: Author’s website: http://www.jyotiarora.com/]
Q1. Firstly, congratulations, Jyoti, for your first book! Why have you decided to take up writing this seriously? What or who is your inspiration behind writing?
Thanks, for the congratulations and for desiring to interview me too.
As for taking writing seriously, well, I don’t think it’s a choice I made deliberately. I think my love for books just turned into a restless and insistent urge to write and be read. I simply couldn’t help not writing.
And when it comes to inspiration, I think my dreams and aspirations are my biggest inspiration. They just keep on nudging me forward and make me restless if I don’t. And of course, all the books that I’ve read and loved also inspire me to try and create something like them. To create at least one masterpiece, at least one book that would pass the test of time and be loved and read the world over, that’s what I dream of. And that’s what keeps on forcing me to write, to take writing seriously and to seek to better myself as a writer as much as I can.
Q2. A third person narrative or a first person autobiographical – you prefer as a writer? As a reader?
I think that the choice rests with the subject matter of the book. The story and subject matter of the book dictate which person narration is the best. If the story demands the psychological insights of several characters, then third person narrative might be better. However, if the story mainly focuses on the journey and development of one character, than first person narrative might be more suitable. Some writers also use multiple first person voices to move their story forward. I quite like that technique. But it must require a perfect control and mastery of the craft to be able to manage this well. As for me, I must confess I find third person narrative easier to write.
As a reader, as long as the narrative is interesting, I don’t mind if it is in first person or third.
Q3. Are you happy with the outcome on the sales volume of your book?
Actually, I don’t know yet about the sales volume of Dream’s Sake. I’d get the sales report from the publisher only in March. However, I’m not happy about the availability, or rather, the lack of availability of Dream’s Sake in market. When my novel was selected by V&S Publishers, I was happy because they had the backing of the distribution network of Pustak Mahal. But that distribution network doesn’t seem to be working somehow. Even online, my book is as yet only available on Flipkart and the website of V&S Publishers. And that can’t be good for the sales figures of any book.
Q4. As a writer, do you prefer the keyboard or the good old pen and paper? Why?
I prefer the keyboard. I have become so used to working on computer that I think I now type faster than I write. Besides, revising and re-writing is so much easier on computer. Of course, before I always felt scared that a problem with my computer might take away whatever I’ve written. But now I keep my documents synced with online storage, so they stay safe. And since I start writing only when I have the story or idea complete in my head, the computer screen doesn’t give me a writer’s block.
Q5. What do you think about the current English Writing scenario in India? Do you really think it is a good time to take on writing as a full time profession?
I would not recommend anyone to take up writing as a full time profession till the person has two or three bestsellers under his or her name. Writing in India does not pay, unless you are a bestselling author. If I could, even I would take up another job to put some money in my bank. But writing is the only work I know, enjoy, and have experience of.
The current English Writing scenario of India is actually very interesting. I sometimes joke that we can divide the literary scene of India as pre-Chetan Bhagat era and Post-Chetan Bhagat era. Before Chetan Bhagat arrived on the scene, reading was considered a boring and dull activity undertaken only by intellectuals and boring people. Youngsters actually used to mock people who confessed of being a bookworm. But post Chetan Bhagat, reading has once again become a cool thing to do among youngsters. Of course, Harry Potter helped too. Youngsters may still not be reading literary fiction, but they are at least reading and experimenting with new authors. A whole new market has opened up. And a whole new breed of writers has risen to cater to this particular readership. Several new publishers have opened shop too who focus on publishing the ‘trendy’ reads. Unfortunately, while opportunities for new writers have opened up, quality of book production and book editing has taken a back seat. There seems to be rising a trend of producing inexpensive books, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
In these current market conditions, it has become very easy for some writers to get published, but very hard for others. Writers whose books don’t fall in any of the trending genres or who don’t have any sort of celebrity backing them are forced to make many compromises. The poor quality of the printed book is one of the most hurtful.
Q6. The bio in your website portrays the kind of struggle you did in your adolescence, suffering from Thalassemia Major that prevented you from going to school after class seven. You fought the disease, and continued your studies through correspondence courses. Where from did you get such strength to fight dark clouds of life?
Yes, Thalassemia has been a part of my life since the very first day. And since I cannot throw it away, I have no other option but to live with it as best as I can. And it’s no big deal really. If you grow up with a problem, you get used to it and learn to live your life with it. Besides, Thalassemia is not the worst thing on Earth. People have far greater problems. But as Helen Keller said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” That’s what I’ve been trying to do all my life –overcome my shortcomings and make use of what I have in the best way possible.
Q7. How tough was it for you to get a publisher once the manuscript was ready? Did you have any certain publishing house in mind or have taken chances on as many as you can? Do you regret of not having a Godfather to guide you through?
Ah, it was really tough. I spent about two years in writing Dream’s Sake, and about the same time in finding a publisher.
At first, having grown up reading classics, I did the big mistake of writing an epic-length novel. In this age of inexpensive books, nobody wanted such a long novel. So I actually cut it down to half its original length. Still publishers told me to reduce it further. This, I found impossible. I have four years experience of working as a editor. I could judge that I had a decent book and that cutting it any further would disturb its fabric irreparably. I didn’t want to do that just to get it published. I loved it far too much for that.
I also thought about opting for self-publishing. But self-published books are still scorned upon as being worthless.
Well, I kept on submitting its proposal to several publishers. Some gave no response; some liked the synopsis and idea but again, found the book too long. V&S Publishers made no such objections. They liked the book as it is.
Of course I wish I had someone to guide me through, not just in the writing and getting published part, but also the publicity and promotion part which I have little knowledge of.
Q8. Do you believe that the success of a book depends much on the publicity that goes behind it? How have you chosen to publicize your book in these days of social media networking?
Good publicity can surely help a book succeed and do good business. But ultimately, the book must be good to maintain that success over a long period. An author can win readers by way of great publicity, but he or she can win their respect and love only by giving them good books.
As for doing publicity of Dream’s Sake, yes, I’m doing all I can on social networks. These days, it’s entirely upon the writer to create the demand for his or her book. I have spent so much of love and labour on Dream’s Sake. You can be sure I’ll do everything that I consider fit and right in creating that demand. But I will not resort to any means that I consider unfair or dishonest. I want to win my readers appreciation and respect. I don’t want them to end up feeling as if they had been cheated into believing a lie.
Q9. While going through ‘Dream’s Sake’ one question always hounded me. Now that I am getting this chance to interview you, I will like to ask you whether the story has got anything to do with your personal life? Or is it a story of someone close to you?
Well, the first novel of any writer is often her most autobiographical one. A writer can’t help but pour out his or her feelings and opinions in their first book especially. I couldn’t help it either. So although the book is not autobiographical, and although all the characters are purely fictional, they all bear some or the other aspect of my personality. It is not the story of my life or of someone I know. But it is also true that I would probably have never thought of having a handicapped hero had I been blessed with a healthy and normal life. I’m there, to some extent, in each of the major characters in the book.
Q10. You are a specialist in abridging English classics, and already have worked on the likes of Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations etc. What was your inspiration behind the same?
Oh, becoming a specialist in abridging classics just happened. I started working with Star Publishers and Distributors Pvt. Ltd. in 2007. After a couple of smaller projects, they gave me the project of developing a whole series of abridged classics for kids aged 10 to 14. I abridged twenty-four classics for them. My job was to cut every book down to 35000 words of simplest English. It was enjoyable, but also very challenging work.
In 2009, I started working with Reading Treasure. They only published books for children. They too gave me several old, copyright free adventure books to abridge. But for them I also developed a couple of short story collections, very short stories for very young kids, original science-fiction cum adventure books for preteens and even a light and fun-filled novel for teens. Unfortunately, before any of these could get published, the publisher decided he needed to concentrate on his other business for the time being. And as all these books were written on ‘for hire’ basis, I could not claim them back. So they are all lying in cold storage for now.
Nevertheless, the experience I gained by working on these books has made me more confident in my writing. So I’m really thankful with the opportunities I got with these two publishers. But now, I think, it’s time once again to concentrate on my own writing and start up on my second novel. The publishing of Dream’s Sake has been a great learning experience. And I hope that the second novel that I write will benefit from all these experiences and will be better and will do better than Dream’s Sake.
The author on Facebook: Jyoti Arora
The author on Twitter: @Jy0tiAr0ra
The novel on Facebook: ‘Jyoti Arora – The author of ‘Dream’s Sake”
Website: http://www.jyotiarora.com/ (author signed copies can be requested from here)
The author blogs at: http://jyotiarora.wordpress.com/
Publisher’s website (the book can be bought from here too): http://www.vspublishers.com/
If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here:
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