Dear Readers,

Our third author today, is Uday Mane. A young mind with mature thoughts that are provoking, enough to influence your mind-set. Best example being his latest creation – The Helpline. A story very well connected with today’s youth who try hard to find answer within but fail. But, is suicide the remedy for failure? Uday answers…  

BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background.

UM: Born in Pune and raised in Mumbai, I am a graduate in Electrical Engineering from Mumbai University. Currently, I reside in Mumbai and work as a full-time social media professional & part-time author. When I am not doing either, I am usually reading or watching movies.

BNI: What inspired you to start writing?

UM: I had not discovered writing until after graduation. I started off with short-stories which received favorable reviews from readers, both friends and strangers (online readers). My initial reaction was to write as a hobby but over the years, the passion turned into a life-long goal. Every writer has an inspiration that pushes him or her towards the first book. In my case, it was the readers mostly. There constructive criticism and honest appreciation has helped me grow as a writer.

BNI: How did you come up with the title?

UM: The Helpline, originally, was a short story written well before it was turned into a novel. The decision to stick to the same title was quiet easy one. The Helpline forms the core of the plot as it revolves around a call made by the protagonist in conversation with Rachael, who works at a suicide helpline. However, everyone who has read the book will tell you that the title is only a mask to the reality it conceals. The Helpline, after all, may not be the helpline you think it is.

BNI: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

UM: The book was written with an intention to reach out to those who have given up on life. The objective was to inspire them, tell them that it is never too late for one more fight. However, I realize that each one of us has given up in life at least once. We have all fought the odds and survived the unthinkable. While the book is written mostly for teenage audience, I like to believe that the philosophy of the book applies to everyone.  Why read The Helpline? Because there is a part of you in it.

BNI: Share some interesting story about the book

UM: It happened in the summer of 2008. I was seated in crosswords with my copy of novel and reading away peacefully. That was the day I met this beautiful stranger. We talked about books and other things in life until I inquired about the two long scars on her either wrist. With all honesty, she confessed to having tried committing suicide twice and being saved by her friends, twice. There is no such thing as thrice lucky. Thankfully, she conceded to having been over it. Our paths never crossed after that but what was left behind was an idea that grew over the next few years. Six years later, there was a book called The Helpline. So, thank you, stranger.

BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?

UM: Suicide is not a solution to any problem in life. Whether you fail in relationships, career or life for that matter, have the courage to fight back. For every struggle you face and every failure in life, remember that you are one step closer to success. Live your dreams everyday and they will come true. Finally, never give in to any problem in life. There is always strength for one more fight.

BNI: According to you, what is the hardest thing about writing?

UM: Consistency. Perseverance. Patience. And an appetite to digest harsh criticism. You have to have all of these and yet writing will not be a cakewalk.

BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

UM: To write is to live. I simply wish to write as many books as possible in my lifetime. Having said that, I always want to write stories that leave behind a message. What is a story if not for its moral, right?

BNI: What will be your one favorite tip to get through the writer’s block?

UM: Get away from writing for a while. There are 2 phases in a writer’s life. The 1st phase is to observe and learn. The 2nd phase is to write what you have observed and learnt. If you hit a block, just be patient and stay in the 1st phase.

BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?

UM: Everybody has a story to tell but not everybody can write. If you can write, it’s a gift and you need to respect that. Love writing and it will love you back. Don’t misuse your skills to hurt sentiments. Writing is a powerful weapon and it can change million hearts for good, if used correctly.

BNI: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

UM: It has to be Chapter 15, Read Me. It took me 4 months to write those 10 pages. The scene is set in a library where Samir conveys his feelings towards Riya without saying a word. He uses different books from the library and stacks them together so that the spines of the books (Spine Poetry) convey his feelings.

BNI: What are your expectations for the book?

UM: The purpose of the book will be served if the message is delivered. That is the simple expectation from the book.

BNI: Tell us about the charity this book is associated with.

UM: As mentioned on the back cover, Rs. 5 per book will be donated for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation. The proceedings will go towards Project Bhavishya-yaan, an initiative run by Rotary for the education and better future of children. I have also volunteered to conduct sessions for the students enrolled in this project at Ghatla BMC School in Chembur, Mumbai. It gives me immense satisfaction that the book is associated with and contributes towards a greater cause.

BNI: What kind of sessions do you conduct? Tell us something about the students here.

UM: The students are from 6th to 8th grade, most of them residing in the Ghatla village. These kids come from poor families but are truly smart, ambitious and willing to learn. What they lack is proper guidance, which The Rotary has taken the initiative to provide. The sessions involve storytelling, those teaching life values (Aesop’s Fables etc), book reading, English speaking and vocabulary improvement.

BNI: Do you think book cover plays an important role in sales?

UM: Absolutely. The cover for The Helpline was designed by a good friend; Yogesh Parab, who has put a lot of thought behind its design. The cover needs to have a firm relevance to the context of the story. It should not be misleading. Many readers will buy a book basis the cover and the blurb.

BNI: Ebook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick?

UM: Nothing can replace the pleasure of reading from a printed hardcover book. You will not find the fragrance of wisdom between the pages of a new book in an ebook or pdf format. Writers and readers have to change with technology but let us not forget our roots.

Thank you Uday for accepting to be interviewed for the blog.

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