Our today’s author in spotlight is Mr. Ramendra Kumar, author – Mohini published by Srishti Publishers. He has so many feathers adorned in his cap that this space is too tiny to summarize them all. Let us start with today’s session.
BNI: Tell us something about yourself and your background. So, What all you have written / published till date?
RK: A WRITER BY PASSION – I have won 26 national awards in competitions organised for writers of children’s books. I have 25 books for children and young adults to my credit. My work has been published by well known names such as Penguin, Hachette, Rupa & Co., Pratham Books, National Book Trust (NBT), Navneet Publications, Children’s Book Trust (CBT) et al. Mohini , my first book for adults has been making waves in the publishing world. The demand based on pre-orders was so high that the publishers had to go in for a second edition almost immediately after the release of the first edition.
My work has been published and reviewed in major newspapers and magazines and translated into several Indian languages as well as Portuguese, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, Mongolian and Sinhala. One of my stories has been included in the text book for class nine students of Norway and another fable has been adapted as Kamishibai, the traditional form of storytelling in Japan. Tales penned by me have also found a place in the school text books in India as well as abroad. My stories, poems and satires have been included in several national and international anthologies including the popular ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul Series’. My latest book for young adults ‘Now or Never’ and five Read-Aloud books have been recommended by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), India, as Supplementary Readers.
Paplu – The Giant was selected for story telling sessions to mark the International Literacy Day, by its publisher Pratham Books. On 7th September more than 1000 story telling sessions were held in more than 25 languages in 27 states across the country as well as abroad. It was also selected by Radio Mirchi for broadcast as an audio book as a part of its CSR initiative ‘Mirchi Cares’, in five languages.
I had the rare honour of presenting a paper at the 31st IBBY World Congress held in Copenhagen, Denmark in the second week of September, 2008. In this paper titled “Here and Now Writing: An Indian Paradigm”, I drew upon the Jagannath Culture and explained how its values and ideals can be skilfully synergized with the modern day concerns to fashion and sculpt a literature which is enduring, endearing and eternal.
I have been conducting Creative Writing Workshops & Story telling sessions in different schools in India as well as abroad. I have also been invited to different events as an inspirational speaker and storyteller for children. Over the last few years I have become a regular invitee at the leading children’s literature festivals in the country.
An Engineer and an MBA, I am presently, working as Deputy General Manager and Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha.
BNI: What inspired you to write this book?
RK: Mohini, is based on the Hindi film industry. I have always been hugely fascinated by Bollywood – both its on screen as well as off screen avatars. My parents too were film buffs and our conversations often veered to the art and craft of film making as well as the happenings beyond the celluloid. I loved watching movies, reading about films and collecting trivia. I regularly participated in Movie Quizzes and in my college days, at one point of time, my team was the best in Hyderabad.
Thus it was quite natural that whenever I would decide to write a novel for adults it would be on films and film stars.
BNI: A 30 word tagline for your book
RK: A beautiful and charismatic actress, a sensitive and immensely gifted director, a scheming, wily but brilliant manager – Mohini is the pulsating saga of three individuals, each driven by an obsession.
BNI: How did you come up with the title?
RK: In Hindu mythology, Mohini, is an enchantress played by Vishnu who saves Shiva from Bhasmasura by mesmerising him with ‘her’ beauty. The protagonist of my book too is a beautiful and seductive lady who uses her charms to achieve her ambition.
BNI: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
RK: My audience is anyone above the age of 18.
Mohini is a pulsating thriller set in the brazen universe of Bollywood. An ambitious starlet wants to conquer Bollywood and to achieve this aspiration she’ll stop at nothing. In her relentless climb to the peak she manipulates minds, breaks hearts and tramples over souls. Using her body and her guile she reaches the peak only to find that she has lost what she cared for the most – the love of a man who loved her to distraction. Ensconced in this tale of machinations, betrayals and bitterness is a love story – a pure and pristine one.
I feel it is a must read for anyone looking out for a gripping plot and well etched characters.
BNI: Who is your favourite character?
RK: Vicky, Mohini’s manager is my favourite. I have always had a fascination for characters with negative shades : Rhet Butler in Gone With the Wind, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Michael Henchard in Mayor of Casterbridge are few of my favourite anti-heroes in fiction.
Vicky is obsessed with Mohini. He loves her to distraction and plans his every move keeping in mind his ultimate goal – Mohini. He waits for the right moment and proposes to her. She spurns him in the beginning and when he starts losing control insults him. He acts as if he is repenting and slowly, bit by bit, wins back her confidence. And finally when she begins trusting him again he strikes and almost annihilates her.
I truly enjoyed etching out Vicky’s character. He is brilliant, crafty and manipulative – completely giving in love and ruthlessly vindictive when spurned. In fact if I ever write a sequel to Mohini, Vicky will once again be a major player in the novel.
BNI: What was the hardest and easiest thing about your latest release?
RK: The easiest thing was writing the book. I really enjoyed it. I love everything about films and scripting a story about Bollywood was huge fun. Reviews in blogs and websites happened quite easily. The hardest part I think was waiting for the reviews in the print media to happen.
BNI: Is there a message in your book/novel that you want readers to grasp?
RK: It is a saga of love in its myriad hues. Mohini proves that even when ambition, obsession, power and pelf create chaos, love can still be sublime. Love is Sublime.
BNI: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
RK: Given below are some of the responses I got from readers of Mohini on Amazon :
- “I finished it in one sitting,” R.Kiran
- “A very thrilling, spine – chilling, drama,” P. Mohan Chandran
- “Gripping story. Comparable to ‘Page 3’ and ‘3 Idiots’.” – Sudhir
- “A beautifully crafted story and a highly eloquent style.” – Karthik
- “A page turner all the way.” – Neha
- “Fast & gripping.” – Manjul
BNI: When and how did you decide to become a writer? Do you write full-time or part time?
RK: I wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid. I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old. I am a Corporate Communications professional by vocation and a writer by obsession.
BNI: Which writers inspire you?
RK: My greatest inspiration has been P.G. Wodehouse.
BNI: What draws you to this genre?
RK: I do not believe in being strait-jacketed in any particular genre. I write mainly for children but also dabble in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues.
BNI: According to you, What is the hardest thing about writing?
RK: As I have mentioned, I am a writer by passion; I don’t find anything hard about writing. What is really tough is finding a publisher. The scenario is dominated by a few names that have been holding complete sway over the publishing field. Their writ runs large.
BNI: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
RK: I want to continue writing as much as I can, for as long as I can. I want to be remembered as a writer who loved his readers, who never, ever took them for granted and to whom his ideals were far more precious than the diktats of the market.
BNI: What has been the toughest criticism and best compliment to you, as an author?
RK: The toughest criticism is that my stories for children always end on a note of optimism. My response is that today the child is exposed to images of angst and agony, sorrow and suffering. I do not want her to grow up to be a cynical individual. Through my writing I want to reach out and tell the little and the not so little ones that despite the chaos all around there is always a slice of hope. I want to offer her a reason to smile and to look for the rainbow in the stormiest of skies.
The best compliment I got was from a publisher of a popular e-zine. “Mr. Kumar your creativity is filling a void in Indian children’s fiction. In a market swamped by fantasies, mythological and historical fiction your ‘here and now’ writing addresses contemporary issues and comes as a breath of fresh air. The added bonus is the value in each story which is finely sewn in without preaching or moralising.”
BNI: What will be your one favourite tip to get through the writer’s block.
RK: Since I write in many genres, if and when I am stuck with the writer’s block, I simply switch to some other genre and continue. This strategy of moving back and forth between genres has always helped me.
BNI: Any advice for writers budding or established?
RK: I would like to tell every writer, aspiring or otherwise: Don’t write for money, don’t write for fame. Write for the love of writing; write for the joy of creating. Write words which will remain on the sands of time long, long after the wind and the sea have washed everything else away. Your writing may not make you rich, it may not make you famous, it may not even make you popular but if your words can lighten someone’s burden with a ray of happiness, a flicker of hope, then you can take pride in a job well done.
BNI: What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
RK: I enjoyed writing the entire book.
BNI: Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
RK: I have been mainly concentrating on children’s fiction. The rather encouraging response to Mohini has given me the confidence that I can connect with my adult readers too.
BNI: How about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us?
He looked at her. She was lying on the bed, her eyes closed and her pale face encased in a halo of lustrous hair. She looked so very vulnerable. He wanted to grab her, take her in his arms, kiss her all over and make soft, gentle love to her.
He had seen her today after almost two years. She had not changed a bit. In fact she looked even more adorable now. The beautiful eyes, the small slightly broad nose, the full, delectable lips ….his eyes travelled down….he remembered every nuance of her glorious body – the perfectly shaped breasts, with their delectable brown buds, the long tapering legs and her succulent hips – she was like a Goddess of sensuality….
He didn’t know how they would face each other when she came to. The memory of their last conversation was still fresh in his mind. It had been gnawing away at his psyche all these days. The anger, the hatred, the bitterness – could it all be swept away in one stroke? Serendipity had brought them together; he was hoping and praying that love would keep them together. But did she really love him? He was not sure. The only thing he was certain about was that he was still madly, insanely in love with her. She was his everything – his passion, his obsession, his very being.
There was a slight movement. She was tossing and turning. As he reached forward to hold her hand she opened her eyes, stared at him and screamed…….
BNI: What are your expectations for the book?
RK: Mohini is basically a love story with enough twists and turns to make it an engrossing thriller. I hope it gets made into a TV serial or a movie.
BNI: ebook, pdf, mobi, kindle or printed hardcover book, what’s your pick?
RK: My pick is printed paper-back followed by kindle.
BNI: You are in a senior position, shouldering vital responsibility, yet you are able write in such a prolific manner. How do you manage your time?
RK: I firmly that time is a function of your PQ or Passion Quotient. If you have the passion for a thing, you’ll find the time for it. I am really, really passionate about writing. I hardly socialize nor do I go for booze sessions with colleagues or friends. I go to the club only for swimming in summers. My tryst with the idiot box is limited to the news or the odd sports event. So it is basically me, my family and my writing. Madhavi, my wife, has been a big support since she handles many of the daily chores leaving me to my obsession.
Besides, I am thankful to God for blessing me with the ability to ‘file’ stories in my head. Once an idea comes to my mind I keep nurturing and nourishing it till a complete story is formed. Many times the story stays with me for days, weeks, sometimes even months. This helps me a lot since I can plot when I am otherwise occupied and key in the stuff when I have the time and access to my laptop.
BNI: Many thanks for sharing your journey as an author with us. It was a motivating experience in itself. I am sure that the readers of the blog who aspire to become a published author someday would have a lot to deduce from your answers.