• Sushma Ramesh

In Conversation with Bhim Bobanga, Author of 'The Disappointing 5'.

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

When author Bobanga approached me to read his debut novel, 'the disappointing 5-when failures turn into heroes, I had thought that the book was going to be, yet another Indian YA read. but when I finished reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the way this book was written. The main highlight in this book for me was the characterization, and the plotline, which included some very sensitive topics, that are still considered taboo in our conservative country. Here's thegeekybookreader, in conversation with the author regarding his experience in writing the book, and more!

(Image courtesy: Author)

Q1. Before we start with the interview, please let readers know more about you.

Hi! My name is Bhim Bobanga, but I like to go by the pen name ‘Bobanga’. I am a 28-year-old dreamer who has embarked on this exciting but also intimidating journey of becoming an author. I am a Jharkhandi/Odiya cusper as I belong to both states and their cultures. My education background is in science, law, and currently economics as I simultaneously handle my day job and my career as an author.

Q2. What made you write your debut book, the disappointing 5?

The book was written as a personal source of inspiration to motivate me at a really low point of my life. It was supposed to be a passion project where I write a story that incorporates a lot of my own as well as others’ insecurities, and weave a plot that would ultimately remind me to persevere through the tough times. After I did achieve that goal, I decided to go ahead and publish it to share this message with everyone.

Q3. How did you come up with the storyline of your novel?

It involved a lot of thinking! But I was already aware of the elements that I wanted to be incorporated. For example, I was certain I wanted my book to discuss the idea of failure, depression, sex and sexuality, suicide, and family troubles. At the same time, I also wanted to send some positive messages, like how it’s okay for both men and women to feel vulnerable, and that nobody is alone in this world. So, I went ahead and created a plot around these ideas.

Q4. Who is your favorite character out of the 5 main leads, and why?

If I had to pick one, I would say Bindya but honestly, it’s a tie between Bindya and Dhruv. Both of them represent the type of people we love to hate in real life. I enjoyed representing another side of their lives and highlight their insecurities.

Q5. Which was the most difficult part of writing this book according to you?

I think the most difficult part of writing this book was to create a sense of cohesion, so that at the end, it does not feel like a jumbled mess of different story arcs that had no connection. There may be some brilliant writers who can create and write a plot in one go, but I am not one of them. I added several elements to the story that I had not considered at the start, and had to figure out a way to incorporate them into the main plot.

Q6. What was your writing process like while writing your debut?

A couple of years ago, it was around this time in Delhi that I had started writing the book. So, it involved a lot of me pacing around in my room, shrouded head to toe in my comfy blanket as I forced myself to reflect on some of the harsh realities of my life and my friends’, and write the story. It was a long process. During weekends, I would spend the whole day cooped up in my room thinking and writing the story.

Q7. Did you always dream of becoming a writer? If not, what inspired you to become one?

Actually, I had never thought of becoming a writer until like two years ago. I had always been an ardent reader and was content with the designation. But one day, I began searching for an inspiring Young Adult novel based on Indian society to help me with my motivation. But it was to no avail. So… I kind of got frustrated and mad, and decided to write my own story! It was only after deciding to publish the novel that the metaphorical brick hit my head and I was like, “Why the hell didn’t I think of this before?”

Q8. What are your hobbies other than writing?

Reading and video games! I am fascinated by cultures and their folktales from around the world and can spend hours and days researching about them. I am also a sucker for all types of video games. They both make a deadly combination in isolating anyone from the real world. But I also occasionally come out of my cave to enjoy the nice things in real life like going to bars and cafes, enjoy exotic cuisines etc., with friends or by myself.

Q9. What was your experience of publishing the book as a debut Indian author?

I had the opportunity of going the route of traditional publishing, but I decided to self-publish. And although I have no regrets, I definitely think it was the more difficult and expensive choice. I had to find affordable printing press around my area, find good designers for the book cover, artists for character arts, then sort out the whole marketing and promotion of the book. All this without any external guidance. So, it was definitely a tough but worthwhile experience!

Q10. What are some of the improvements that you wish to see in the Indian publishing procedures?

I really wish the publishing industry would embrace more diverse and unique subjects.

Q11. How did you come up with the idea of mentioning trigger warning at the beginning of the book, as it was not something traditional in writing?

I knew I was going to deal with some taboo subjects like underage sex, drinking, teenage pregnancy, suicide etc. And I was aware that people, like me, who have experienced some of this stuff might get PTSD when reading about such topics. So, to prevent that, I gave the warning.

Q12. Do you have any plans for your next work? If yes, could you please share a glimpse of it?

Yes! My next book is not exactly a sequel to my debut novel, but more like a continuation of the stories of these 5 characters as they grow up. However, it is more of a thriller than a YA and focuses on the society rather than their own personal lives. Basically, I am world building and expanding on the book’s universe! The book is also going to deal with even deeper and darker subjects than my first book.

Once again, Thank you so much Author Bobanga, for giving me the opportunity to have an interview with you, and also for successfully writing a storyline with such sensitive topics. Your responses to my interview questions were very inspiring and I wish you all the very best for your future endeavors!

Reach out to Bobanga on Instagram, to know more about the author.

Read my review on 'The Disappointing 5' here, and to buy the book on Amazon, click here.

Until next time, have a good one everyone, and stay safe!