About the author: Raja Mohanty is a journalist by profession and works for one of the country’s leading and oldest dailies, The Statesman. He was adjudged as the best actor in the 27th Lok Natak Mahotsav, Odisha’s, one of the oldest competitive drama festivals. He has triple master’s degrees in English, Public Administration, and Sociology. He lives with his wife, who is a wonderful homemaker, and a daughter, who is pursuing her MBA at NIT Rourkela.
Summary of the book: “Love, I don’t know what others might have to say, but for me, it remained a very disturbingly fascinating experience. You may wonder about the two words with contrasting emotions. But that remains the fact to date. In the mid-sea of my turbulent life, I kept on drifting like that ship whose captain had abandoned it long back and the rudder disabled permanently.”- Dimpy .”After a while, the meeting came to an end. And Soumya knew he was still an outsider to the group. He was yet to be accepted into the group to make it five. He realized that he was treated as a friend and was helped with all sincerity, but still his status remained that of a pariah for them. They did their duty as friends, but they still maintained that distance from him. He was that friend who could count on their friendship but not theirs. There was no word for him.”- The Awesome Foursome. Consciously or unconsciously, most of us are wanderers or rolling stones in life. However, defying the norms of normality, we all gather moshes, which some comprehend and some don’t. The stories are those moshes settled in the mind, very strongly rooted, never ready to fade away or become blurred with the passage of time. These stories are the reflections of those expressions, a mix of real and surreal.
- Can you tell us a little about your book?
Consciously or unconsciously most of us are wanderers or rolling stones in life. However, defying the norms of normality we all gather moshes, which some comprehend and some don’t. The stories are those moshes settled in the mind, very strongly rooted never ready to fade away or become blurred with the passage of time. Every moment they kept on tormenting to find an expression. These stories are the reflections of those expressions of a mix of real and surreal. Interestingly the surreal has a premise or proposition of reality.
- Is there a specific event that inspired this story or was this an out of the blue idea?
No, it is just not an out-of-the-blue idea. There are a few and I am not sure what is the most appropriate one. But, the most important that comes to my mind is most of the time I would feel something was getting suffocated in my mind. And that must get out of my mind and so I took to writing them. Well! If you ask me to be precise then ‘With Sadananda’, I began seriously. Even in this story, I have not changed the name of the protagonist and he actually forced me to start writing.
- What got you writing in the first place?
Well, it was reading and reading voraciously, or else there are no such specific reasons. Reading made me curious and left me wondering how one can write such wonderful epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana or Paraja and even the stories appearing in Chandamama. The words, the phrases, the descriptions, the imageries, and the metaphors all continued to fascinate me and attract me to the world of writing. One peculiar thought came to mind where all the storytelling would stop because I had no idea that creativity was eternal. But, finally, realization dawned on me and it was reading that broadens the mind thus leading to a situation where one can write. Small prizes in writing further spurred my imagination. Finally, with age, I understood the ‘disturbances’ around me- both positive and negative, and those further egged me to write.
- What was your impression of your first draft when you read it?
If I say nothing, then actually I am lying. It was like holding my first and only child for the first time, my daughter, in my hands and looking at her unbelievably. The reaction or the feeling or impression was the same. Subsequent editing helped me in making the necessary changes. But, I always liked my first baby, that is, the first draft. The further editing only added to the growth of my baby.
- Which part of your story connects the most with you? Why?
I connect with every story in my book because there are fourteen different ways of looking at life. Every individual story offers me a different perspective. As I am connecting with every individual story I enjoy every relationship. With Sadanand, I tried to feel his pain, and in The Family attempted to be with the lady, for Dimpy I put myself in Kunu’s place and enjoyed his sufferings, In Awesome I am one of the characters. In the title story, I tried to enter under the skin of a justice-seeking leader. These are some of the stories to cite some examples else with every story I find myself connecting at every level while writing it.
- What makes your book the one to read?
The book speaks about relationships, compassion, surrealism and above all a little bit of ‘karuna’ or compassion. In Mahabharata Lord Krishna says the world will end if ‘karuna’ goes missing. So, anyone appreciating all these will find the stories interesting to read. In a world where we are reaching out to Mars we are forgetting our own immediate environment, probably in that situation this book will help in a small reawakening. May be, I hope so.
- What was the best advice you got while writing?
Every story has its own soul. Search for that soul and it will be out of your mind, because, it is there in your mind. It is in the form of experiences of your own or someone else’s. So, be natural and be simple when you are giving them lives.
- Who’s your all-time favourite author? Which book of his/hers made you fall in love with them?
Prativa Ray, Gopinath Mohanty, Kanhu Mohanty, Fatura Nanda, Bibhuti Pattnaik, in Odia. In fact, Gopinath Mohanty, was twice shortlisted for Noble Literature but unfortunately, there was none to lobby for him. Amish, and Chetan Bhagat, as Indo-English writers. Albert Camus, George Orwell, Mario Puzo, Irving Wallace, Robert Ludlum. Alvin Toffler, Malcolm Gladwell. Janjyaseni of Ray, Paraja and Mati o Matala of Gopinatha, Baliraja of Kanhu Mohanty, Badhu Nirupama of Bibhuti Pattnaik, Sahitya Chasha of Fatura Nanda. Then Meluha, Half Girlfriend. The Man, The Prize, Bourne Identity and Series, Future Shock and Power Shift, Blink, The God Father Series, The Stranger to name a few.
- What is your evergreen tip to the writers out there?
Ha ha! As a journalist, I am not new to writing but as an author, this is my first time. So this is a tough question to answer and this is one big task to share tip/s for writers when like a kid I am just learning to take my first uncertain steps. Well, one needs to have a receptive mind to smaller turbulences in one’s immediate environment. And immediate can be far away from you but your imagination must have the ability to reach there and feel that. Besides, don’t let the idea get stale in your mind, so, once you have something to write then jot it down. May be a sentence, a word, a phrase even a suitable name. Advisable, it may sound a little weird but have a small notebook with you all the time and this is a must on your bedside table.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
Well! The beginning always strikes the mind and is easy. Hardest! Hmm, well! There are some in some of the stories. But, the hardest always remains how to finish those stories. Difficult to find what possibly could be a haunting, intriguing and interesting ending? And in the case of short stories closing it every time is much more difficult because, in a small package, you fit in many things and also think about a logical climax.
- Do you have another plot brewing?
Yeah! I do have stories boiling in my mind apart from my regular short tales. The first part of the political thriller trilogy is over. The second one is on the table. Besides, the storyline and the skeletal manifestation of the third one are getting ready. Besides, I am also working on one book on Lord Jagannath, which will be over soon. And a long dream of writing an inspirational and motivational book is always appealing and a good portion, nearly one-fourth of it is complete.