New Delhi,Oct 14: Maniissh Aroraa was born and brought up in a traditional Punjabi family, in Allahabad, a city located at the confluence (Sangam) of three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. His fiction ‘Sunshine Town’ is scheduled for a launch in November 2017. Little nothings of life amuse him and these are elaborated in his work, with which the readers across the country relate. This has been a hit formula in Bollywood also, of late. Having been born and raised in North of India, he has a special interest in the people and culture of the region and his writing reflects the same. Sunshine Town is about Shlok, a lanky teenager, a serial day dreamer who doesn’t want much from his life. He opens up for News24:
Q. Sunshine Town is your debut novel, please share what the story is about?
Ans. Sunshine Town is about Shlok, a lanky teenager. He is ordinary in studies and doesn’t want much from his life. His sole dream is to make his parents proud by cracking an important entrance exam. Natasha, his neighborhood sweetheart, loves nature and Jogging and Shlok embarks on a journey to impress her. The rapids of life push Shlok and Natasha on an unexpected journey, and they realize one can’t always be in control of circumstances. Set in Varanasi, a city in North India, during the late 90s, before the pervasiveness of technology, the book is about the aspirations and emotional turmoil of being a teenager. This story deals with the themes of love, career, and personal fulfillment.
Q. Sunshine Town is a story of a teenager. Was it difficult to write from a point of view of a teenager?
Ans. I consider, deciding the perspective is a most challenging aspect of penning a novel. The protagonist could be a teenager or an adult, and the plot could be a modest one, but the perspective of the narrator plays an important role. For example, if we keep the protagonist as a teenager but change the narrator from Mother to Father, the story will be entirely different.
When I began writing Sunshine Town, I first contemplated deeply, who should be an ideal narrator here - Shlok himself or his family members or an outsider. I later resolved to keep it from a teenager’s perspective for two reasons - (a) the role of Shlok’s inner voice and (b) his conflict with divinity, both playing fulcrum throughout the story and only Shlok himself would have done justice to both the aspects of the story. Writing from a teenager’s perspective was not easy but given that all of us have lived and coveted that life, I just had to look within for some of my unforgettable experiences.
Q. The title sounds very interesting, how did you come up with the title?
Ans. The word Sunshine signifies aspirations, hope, and an uninterrupted zeal to succeed. I wrote this book specifically for strong-willed, small-town teenagers who have gone through (or continue to go through) the ordeal of cracking tough competitive exams, trying to optimize in constraints of their lives, without giving up. I have high regards for them in my heart; they are the Sunshine’s of small towns for me. I decided on the title thinking about them, in the hope that this book will inspire them to continue their pursuit without giving up in life.
Q. When did you first realize that you want to write a book? Why do you write? Where do your ideas come from?
It was not a conscious decision to write a book. Writing happened to me by some sort of an accident. In 2012 or somewhere around that time, I came across a book written by Julia Cameron - The Artist’s Way.
The book taught how to do morning pages, with a promise that in eight weeks it could change the course of life. I took that challenge and began writing morning pages, but nothing resulted in eight weeks barring my improved interest in writing. A few years later I found myself writing Sunshine Town. Half an hour of periodic writing is my vacation from the daily grind. It helps me to unwind myself and gives an opportunity to introspect about my life and its experiences. Writing enriches my life, and I hope my readers too would get benefit from it.
Q. What motivates you to write and how do you stay distraction free while writing?
Ans. I agreed, we live in the era of Facebook and WhatsApp, and they could eat a lot of time from our day. I draw my inspiration from Stephen King. He is my ideal; I go over his interviews on YouTube almost every week. It helps me immensely to stay focused in my pursuit. On a lighter note, when I write I ensure for that period, my laptop is not connected to the net. It limits my distractions.
Q. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Would you share how you overcome such challenges for the benefit of other aspiring writers.
Ans. I think the greatest challenge for budding writers is their own counter-intentions. Many aspiring authors either doubt their own capability even before writing a page or they become judgmental of their own creativity. It is not good. My suggestion is two folds - (a) Just write first, it doesn’t matter what you write, how you write or when you write as long as you are writing. Even if you are not writing anything worth reading, you should continue writing and get into a rhythm and (b) Do not judge your creativity, try to pamper the creative child in you, the child will mature with time and strangely surprise you.
Q. How long on average does it take for you to write a book?
Ans. I took three years to write Sunshine Town but since then my speed has improved. I now take almost eight months to a year to complete a novel.