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Interview with BOBANGA


The Disappointing 5

He was born in the small mining town of Barbil, Odisha to parents who hail from Jharkhand. But he has always lived a nomadic life growing up in different cities like Vizag, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Barbil, New Delhi, and Bengaluru. His nomadic nature has persisted through his career as well, shifting from science stream to studying law, then economics, and now finally venturing into the world of literature.

It's hard to say what inspires him to write when the inspirations have been within him all along. Becoming a writer was not a result of any life-changing discovery, but perhaps the most natural evolution of his life. And his first book, The Disappointing 5 is only the beginning of his evolution


Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?

A. Aside from my immediate family and few friends, not many know that I have pursued the idea of becoming an author. It is something that I have largely kept a secret from my relatives and acquaintances.


Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?

A. My new book will likely be released by mid-2021. It will be a continuation of the story of the characters from The Disappointing 5. The book will largely focus on Akash Malhotra and his life as a full-fledged detective. The book will be geared more towards the thriller genre and will deal with some very dark aspects of our society. In my first book, I explored child trafficking. In this book, I am going even deeper and darker. The book will not pull any punches when it comes to exploring those themes.


Q.3 What made you write The Disappointing 5?

A. It had started off as a personal project. It was a time when I was at the lowest point of my life, and I had no one who could encourage or motivate me to persevere. This book was a message to me that I should not give up, no matter what. It was after some time when I did get out of my misery that I considered sharing the story with others, in hopes that it may inspire them as well.


Q.4 We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?

A. The Disappointing 5 has five protagonists, namely Akash, Bindya, Dhruv, Sunayna, and Robin. While their looks and appearances are purely based on my own imagination, their stories are based on my life as well as the lives of many friends and acquaintances. For example, story elements revolving around suicide and depression are largely inspired by my own life and experiences. Other stories that focus on bullying because of their sexuality, teenage pregnancy, etc., are inspired by the lives of my friends and acquaintances.


Q.5 Does your book touch on any social issue? If yes, which ones?

A. It would be easier to mention the social issues that I have probably not touched upon. I have mainly talked about depression, suicide attempts, bullying, sexual harassment, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, domestic quarrel, and single parenthood. But there are even more social issues that I have highlighted in the novel, which I encourage readers to find out themselves.


Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?

A. I was mainly focusing on representation from different cultural backgrounds. For example, Akash Malhotra and Bindya Shah represent the urban, metropolitan demography. Dhruv Kapoor is a Punjabi, Sunayna Mahapatra is from Odisha, and Robin Alberto hails from a Christian family from Kerala.


Q.7 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

A. I think it is very difficult to represent the opposite sex in a way that does them justice and does not make them come off as stereotypical caricatures. As a man myself, I had to be very careful not to portray female characters in my book from the perspective of the male gaze. I had to be careful not to just define them primarily based on looks, as many of us male authors are prone to do. I also did not want to portray them as damsels in distress or go the opposite way and portray them as superhumans. I had to make sure I created well-rounded characters who had their own strengths and weaknesses.


Q.8 Do you hide any secrets in your book that only a few people will find?

A. I am quite big on representation, so I have mentioned some things in the book that people might not think about too much at first. This is largely because I deliberately wanted to make them come off as normal and wanted readers to think about it themselves without me holding their hands. For example, I have casually insinuated how the school where our main protagonists go does not discriminate against the third gender.

Q.9 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

A. In self-publishing industry, the biggest issue I found was how some people are ready to exploit you the moment you look the other way or if you are not careful and vigilant. In the traditional publishing industry, I have noticed how your book can be overlooked, if it is unconventional or if it is not focusing on the latest trend. But then, this is a story that has been told by many before me.

Q.10 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?

A. The book was largely edited and formatted by me. But there were also others involved who had to typeset and print my books. It was honestly a very difficult process because I was dealing with people who were either using software that was long discontinued or did not work with computers at all.


Q.11 If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in any of your books?

A. I have been thinking that I have perhaps written the book in a language that is a bit too simple. But I am still conflicted about it. On one hand, it does make my book more accessible to those for whom English is not their strongest point. It also makes the dialogues feel rawer and more realistic. But on the other hand, I also think I probably could have showcased some of the beauty of the language itself.


Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?

A. Oh yes! This is especially so when you are writing the not-so-exciting or important scenes of the book. When I went through such a block, I decided to not force myself and take my time slowly finishing those parts. Sometimes writer’s block may also happen with regards to creativity. In that case, I just search for more inspirations, whether from other novels, movies, real-life, art, etc.


Q.13 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?

A. I am aware that everyone interprets a story in their own way. As such, some people may really like a story, and some may not. I personally don’t negatively take bad reviews nor do I completely ignore them. I try to introspect on those reviews and mark the points that I feel are valid.


Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?

A. I love to write dialogues! I honestly find them so much fun.


Q.15 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?

A. My best friends. They beta-read my books before publishing and did not hesitate to give me several useful pointers, even if they knew those points would stab me in the heart.


Q.16 What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

A. Some of my favorite chapters to write include the chapter where Akash and Bindya interact for the first time in their lives, the chapter where Dhruv had to woe somebody the classic corny and filmy way, and the chapters where our main protagonists ended up fighting the bad guys. I am trying my best to not reveal too many spoilers here.


Q.17 What three things readers should expect from your books?

A. A lot of insight into the modern lives of teenagers and adults as well; morbid, funny, and emotional dialogues; and extensive representation.


Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

A. Sanjay Leela Bhansali. His movies always floor me with their perfection and beauty, and I want to get inside his head to find out where he gets his inspiration from.


Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?

A. It has been The Six of Crows series for a while now. The book had such deep and impactful characters that I still can’t forget even two years after reading them. It is similar to how the Harry Potter series had an impact on me during my teenage years.


Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?

A.  It has been a difficult yet very learning experience. Other published authors were not joking when they said that the real struggle starts after finishing writing the story.


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