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Interview: Patience and discipline are keys to success, says novelist Manisha Bhatia
On September 4, 2016, a new book was launched at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi's bustling Connaught Place. When My Father Cried (Gurgaon, StoryMirror), Manisha Bhatia's first novel about a very ambitious girl and her relationship with her father saw in the audience people of different age groups - old, young and even small children - attending the launching ceremony, cheering up every moment with applauses.

Manisha, an MBA from ICFAI Business School Kolkata, exuding confidence, looked happy, confident and content that her six-year love of labour has at last seen the dawn. On this occasion, the beautiful young author of her virgin book shared her views and experiences with Manzar Imam.

Here are excerpts from the interview.

Q: Manisha, this is your first book. Many congratulations for it. What was your first inspiration to write the book?

Manisha Bhatia (MB): My own dreams and restlessness. When I used to sit in audiences in the book launches, I used to always think when will I go and sit there. This gave me a fire inside that I have to do something.

Q: When did you begin writing?

MB: I began writing six years back. First I did lot of blogging, I did lot of poetry. Now I even recite in poetry shows. But poetry was not satiating me. Then this book happened. This is something which is my destiny now and I want to make it bigger.

Q: How and when did you start writing the book?

MB: I started writing the book three years ago. Initially, I used to write poems and articles. You will find that rhythm and poetic flow in the book, some poetic stanzas are also there.

Q: As the title suggests, you have dedicated the book to your father. How deep do you think is the relationship between a father and a daughter?

MB: It's very deep. It cannot be put in words. A daughter is most sensitive towards her father. I am that sensitive daughter of very sensitive parents. Gene has been transferred. And then love collides between us all the time. I get inspiration from his struggles, from his life. How he moved from a small town guy and built up everything. He has not inherited anything. It's all effort.

Q: Did you feel any constraints while writing the book?

MB: I used to get very emotional. You will see those emotional strands in the book. You will find a lot of emotions, when you read it. I used to get emotional, I cried, I loved, I was tensed. But at the same time I used to be very disciplined. The book used to be in my hand from morning till evening, next, next, next. The book never leaves you. Unless and until you finish it off and give it to the publisher, your job isn't done, she philosophizes.

Q: How easy or difficult is it for a new writer to find a publisher?

MB: Very difficult. You don't find publishers. And, if you get them, they give you long time like six months, eight months, maybe a year. Publishers make you wait. Sometimes they don't even reply you. But you don't have to be disheartened. You need to keep finding the avenues, keep meeting people, keep networking. And, if you have that fire, it will happen.

Q: As your first book is out now, do you have any future plans, any stories in mind? Would you like to write just fictions or move to other genres?

MB: I never plan anything. I am very prompt. Whatever I feel from my heart, will be the story. Many people told me to change the title of the book and make it some love title so that it sells. But I think whatever comes from the heart, will sell. I was very confident that this is from my heart.

Q: With changing times, do you think fiction has a future?

MB: [Face brimming with confidence] Everybody has a different taste. Some only like to read love stories, some like to read sci-fi books. You cannot like the certain feature of it. See the Harry Potter series of books. It was rejected by many publishers. But you see now. Harry Potter has been a massive success.

Q: Any message for the new and, or would-be-writers?

MB: Pursue it relentlessly. This is the first lesson which I have also learnt from my seniors. Be disciplined. Unless you have discipline, you cannot do it. Don't resign behind the notion that in two months you will become a writer and shine. You can be an author, but a writer's journey requires lots of patience. You need to do a lot of research. You just can't write and give it to the publishers. These people are educated. They have knowledge. You need lot of patience to become a writer.

Q: Who do you give the biggest credit?

MB: [Laughs] I give it to myself. If I would have not desired it, I would have not found the ways to do it and it could not have happened. It's a dream which has seen the dawn.

(A freelance journalist based in New Delhi, Manzar Imam divides his time between writing and research and follows his heart to celebrate India's diversity of art, culture and tradition)

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