We interviewed Jyoti Arora. Currently she is working as Executive Operations with Software Specialists Inc. It’s an IT staffing agency headquartered in US. She works online from her home in Ghaziabad.
Before this, she used to work as a freelance Content Developer. Most of her experience as a freelancer included working with two publishers. For both of them she developed books for kids and abridged English classics. She has abridged more than 30 classics.
She has done B.A. in English (Hons.) from Delhi University and M.A. in English Literature and M.A in Applied Psychology, both from Annamalai University. She has also done a diploma course in Creative Writing from Writer’s Bureau, Manchester, UK.
Most recently, She won third prize in the Women’s Day contest hosted by SafetyKart. Her journey as a blogger has also been featured by Jabong through their SheInspires initiative on Women’s Day.
Other than these writing awards, She has also been awarded the Employee of the Year 2014 at Software Specialists Inc.
Her two novels Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl are her most dear achievements. Both have won her much appreciation from readers and critics.
What inspired you to start writing?
I write because I love books. I have always loved books. Even when I didn’t know how to read, the smell and sight of colourful books tempted me more than chocolates. I learnt to read even before I started going to school. And since then my love with the written word is only growing stronger.
However, when I started studying literature while pursuing my Graduation degree, I realized how much skill and art went into the books I read so casually. I was also amazed at how we were reading and admiring books that were written centuries ago. That gave me the desire to try and create something as amazing too. I too started feeling the desire to write books that others would love to read. And that is what made me decide that I would be a writer.
I started by sending out articles to magazines and newspapers. Several of my articles were published in Women’s Era, Alive etc. After that, I worked for five years as a freelance writer. And now I’m a novelist and a blogger.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
I loved reading comics, for sure. Also, at that time, there was a shop near our home that used to supply books that had Hindi or English translations of Russian stories. They had beautiful illustrations and I loved them a lot. I also loved reading Noddy books and all the books by Enid Blyton. When I was in my teens, Nancy Drew books were my favourite.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
I find beginning the hardest part. I procrastinate and waste months before my book truly starts. But once I’m past first three or four chapters, then the book picks up speed and becomes easier to write.
Other than that, thinking up good ideas is not easy. Also, I feel that my experience of the world is very limited. And that also limits my imagination. I do wish I knew more of the world so I could paint my books with more varied colours.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
My first novel Dream’s Sake didn’t require much research. Whatever information I needed, I easily gathered from internet or friends and family.
My second novel Lemon Girl is about sexual abuse and its effects. So I did research about the psychological effects of abuse and how a victim can behave. Some scenes in the book are based in Rishikesh. As my father belongs to Hardwar, I am familiar with Rishikesh too. But still, I researched a little about it.
What motivated you to write the book “Lemon Girl”?
Lemon Girl is based on the issue of abuse of girls and women and the sick mentality of always blaming the girls for every wrong. In the recent few years we have seen a marked rise in the rate of crimes against women. And always, some or the other voice rises up to point out the fault of the girl in the incident. We saw in the Nirbhaya case too. More recently, we have seen what some people said about it in India’s Daughter documentary. People so readily put the fault of such cases on cultural decline, and the fault of cultural decline is as easily put on the shortening clothes and changing habits of girls. As for men, even our leaders don’t mind saying casually that boys are boys and boys commit mistakes. As if there’s no difference between a crime and a mistake. That too a crime like rape which can totally ruin a girl’s life. I felt very disgusted with all this. And it is my anger against such victim-blaming mentality that gave rise to Lemon Girl.
Can you tell us more about your latest book?
As I said, Lemon Girl is based upon the issue of women abuse and victim-blaming. The book raises a voice of protest against the injustice of blaming a victim just because she’s a woman. However, despite being based on a serious social issue, the book is not overly grim or a tear-jerker. I have tried my best to keep it balanced between seriousness and entertainment. The book is crisp, thought-provoking, moving and yet entertaining.
Lemon Girl upholds the theme of respect and self-respect for all. It maintains that no love can survive without respect, not even self-love. The book is not a girl’s protest against the society. It is the quest of regaining oneself and finding one’s inner strength and value. It is a positive and uplifting book with all its various themes woven in the fabric of an engrossing and entertaining love story.
How did you came up with the idea of writing Romance genre book?
I have written two novels so far. Both of them have stories of true love. However, they aren’t really formula romances. My first novel Dream’s Sake was based upon the theme of fears and insecurities of people with disabilities and the prejudices they have to face from the society. My second novel too is based on a serious social issue. While Dream’s Sake was General Fiction, Lemon Girl is more of a Feminist Fiction. But both tell love stories because that’s what I enjoy reading too.
However, I do want to write a romance too someday. Maybe my next book would be one!
Who are your favourite authors?
That’s rather a hard question for me because I enjoy so many authors. But I think it is writers like Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain who most influenced me and strengthened my love for books. Their books accompanied me as I grew up as a reader and writer and I still hold them most dear.
Among the new authors, I enjoy books by Paulo Coelho, Khaled Hosseini and Jeffrey Archer, to name a few.
Very recently, I read a book by a new Indian author Dr. Sweety Shinde and thoroughly enjoyed it.
What were the challenges faced in self publishing this book?
Self Publishing is easy, but selling a self published book is much harder. I got my book critically evaluated. Then after thoroughly editing and revising and re-revising my book, I published it. I got the cover designed by Ink Studioz. I faced some trouble in getting the cover size right at pothi.com. But other than that, the whole process of self publishing paperback and ebooks went smoothly for me. And since my novel Lemon Girl is in market, I’m delighted to see it getting great reviews from all.
I do wish though that I could find some way to put the book in stores. As yet, Lemon Girl is only available online.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Write on and dream on and don’t let setbacks rob you of your dreams and literary ambitions. Being a writer means chasing a big dream. And the path to achieving a dream is often paved with too many roadblocks. Don’t let them stop you. Learn from the setbacks and try and write better and better.
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