It has been a wonderful experience in working with Jyoti Arora for her books each time she has written one. Each time she writes a book, she ensures that it has some social message in it. Her latest book, Lemon Girl, is been liked by the youths. Let's see what she had to say in the interview I had with her.
1. Hello Jyoti. Why did it take you so long to complete and release your 2nd book?
I confess that I’m a slow writer. I take my time in conceiving, planning, developing and revising my book. I can’t dash out a book in a matter of months.
Secondly, since my first novel Dream’s Sake released, I have become much too busy in diverse pursuits. I have a full-time job with a multi-national company and I also have a technology blog called Techn0Treats. These two combined together keep me very busy and so I get little spare time to work on my books. That delayed the publishing of Lemon Girl even more.
2. Weren’t you doubtful about such an unusual title “Lemon Girl”?
I knew that some people might consider the title ridiculous. But I loved it and felt that most readers would find it attractive and catchy. And my belief in the title is being vindicated by the reviews that I’m getting of the book. Most readers feel that the title suites the story, its theme and heroine well. Some have actually told me that there couldn’t have been a better title for such a book. So, I guess, it was a fortunate choice.
3. What exactly made you write this story?
I had this theme in my mind since several past years. Then ‘Nirbhaya’ case happened. And after that, rape seems to have become almost a fashion. Never a day goes when we don’t hear of it in news programs. And what is even more enraging is the way our own leaders and prominent people casually put the blame of all this ‘cultural decline’ on girls and women and offer all sorts of excuses for culprits. I found this disgusting. Seeing and hearing all this made me feel very angry. My health problems don’t permit me to go out and take part in protests. So I decided to raise my protest by way of my writing. That’s what led to Lemon Girl.
4. What changes do you find in yourself as a writer from Dream’s Sake to Lemon Girl?
When I wrote Dream’s Sake, I was very inexperienced as a writer, in terms of market perspective. I wrote out my story without any awareness of the market demands and trends. I wrote what I enjoyed reading. But since then, I have made many writer friends and joined many writing groups. My understanding of the market and current reading preferences has improved. As a result, my second novel is shorter in length and trendier in tone. Although, it still has the depth, sincerity and the beauty of language that readers appreciated in Dream’s Sake.
5. How hard it was to write a story about a girl who’s a victim of a heinous crime like rape?
Writing of any book involves challenges. While writing Lemon Girl, my greatest challenge was doing justice to the serious theme without making the book too serious and gloomy. Some readers of Dream’s Sake told me that they loved the book but it made them cry. I did not want my second novel to be so serious as well. And yet, it would have been wrong to deal with such an issue as rape in a light and frivolous way. Keeping the balance between poignancy and entertainment was tough. I achieved it by getting the story narrated by two different people. The parts that the heroine Nirvi narrates are serious and thought-provoking. The parts that the hero narrates are lighter in tone. The two together add the required depth and light to the story.
As for the difficulty of writing about a rape victim, I did a thorough research upon this theme before beginning the book. And that helped me develop the character of Nirvi. Also, I’ve done Masters in Applied Psychology. So I do know a little about the psychological effects of such traumas.
6. What were you most doubtful about while writing this one?
I was narrating my book from female as well as male perspective. The heroine and the hero narrate the story of Lemon Girl alternatively. I was sure of the parts that the heroine narrated. But I did worry about the tone and the words that I gave to my hero. I wasn’t sure if they were natural enough for a guy like him. Thankfully, the reviews of Lemon Girl have assured me that I have succeed in making the hero Arsh natural and relatable.
7. Who are your favourite authors whom you feel influenced by?
I enjoy reading classics most. While working as a freelance writer with one publisher, I also abridged 24 classics to make them suitable for pre-teens. And so, I think those books by great masters have left a deep impact on my writing. I enjoy books of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens most. Conventional choices, you might call them. But so it is. I like old things. Old music, old movies and old books. I wouldn’t mind going back to the old world either, if I could take my books, my smartphone and my computer along with me!
8. How genuine do you find the Bloggers and Book Reviewers?
That depends upon who the blogger or book reviewer is and why he or she is reviewing the book. Most bloggers and reviewers give genuine reviews. I do feel sometimes that due to the large number of books they have to read and review, many book reviewers seem to be losing the joy of reading and appreciating a book. Many just summarily jot down the main points of the book in their blog posts, almost as if their only intention was to remove the book from their ‘to-read-and-review’ pile.
Fortunately, I’m happy to say that my novel Lemon Girl has managed to make most readers and reviewers feel excited about it. Most of the reviews that I got for Lemon Girl rang with the love and excitement that the reviewer felt for the book. And let me tell you, a thousand word review can’t make a writer as happy as one excited exclamation of appreciation from a reader can.
9. What story are you working on currently? When will your next book release?
I haven’t started working on any book yet. I will try to start on another book soon, but it would probably be another two years when my next book comes out.
10. Any words for the people who read Lemon Girl.
I felt strongly about an issue and raised my voice against it through Lemon Girl. If you too feel strongly about the issue of rape and victim-blaming, I welcome you to Raise Your Voice too on the online spaces I have provided. You can post your messages on my blog, Facebook page or on Twitter. The details of that can be found here: http://www.jyotiarora.com/raiseyourvoice
Also, do let me know what you think of my novel. I love hearing from my readers.