Lajo Jose had entered the world of writing leaving his job in the corporate industry. He began his journey as a screenplay writer. Due to lack of opportunities, he turned into a novelist. His first novel ‘Coffee House’ had received great responses. His second novel ‘Hydrangea’ will be releasing soon. Lajo Jose speaks about the book and his journey.
During 2011, a friend was interested in making a short film. He wrote a screenplay and sent it to me. He was my dear friend. So I was being completely honest with him. I did not like it. The same night, I sat down and wrote a new script. Someone unknown motivation gave me the drive to write it.
I don’t know how to explain what that was. I have been watching plenty of movies at a very young age. Many a time, after watching a movie I have felt that it would have been better if the story was portrayed in a different way. Maybe the interest to write was there deep inside me.
My first creation was the screenplay written that night. After writing and sending it to him, I was confident that I could write. Later on, I wrote screenplays for short films. After writing 2-3 screenplays for short films, I wondered how it would be if I were ever to write the screenplay for a feature film. I gave a shot at it. Although a lot of people who read it liked it, the directors didn’t like it.
At that time, I was the regional manager at Max Life Insurance. I got promoted in the year 2015. My responsibilities had increased. The thought that if this continues, I will have to retire as an employee at Max Life Insurance or some other corporate organization had caught hold of me. Otherwise, I will have to go after my dream. Contemplating the same, I decided to quit my job.
Birth of my first novel
After quitting the job, I had dedicated all of my time into writing. By 2016, I had realized that things aren’t moving the way I had expected it to. Directors and actors were not giving me an opportunity to meet them since I was a newcomer. Looking from their perspective, they had no reason to trust me. They didn’t even know if my story was good enough. Although I wrote screenplays frequently, I never got an opportunity to tell them the story. I went into depression.
I wrote 12 screenplays during that time. Nobody gave me an opportunity to meet them. If they told me off saying that it’s not good enough after hearing the story, I wouldn’t have been that depressed. I could’ve made the required changes to make it better.
Not getting an opportunity to tell my story was depressing. I could not bear disappointment. I ended up burning a lot of my scripts. During that time, the idea of making one of my stories into a novel had evolved. I had the script of ‘Coffee House’ with me. I decided to make it into a novel. That is how I ended up writing novels.
After I was done writing the novel, I had sent it to 6 publishers. Due to lack of confidence, I did not send it to the leading publishers. Out of the 6 that I had sent, 3 responded by calling me up. I signed the contract with the one that I felt would be most profitable for me. That is how ‘Coffee House’ was published.
A crime thriller
I had started off by reading books written by Sherlock Holmes, Kottayam Pushpanath, and Batten Bose. When the responsibilities in life had increased, I slowly moved away from the habit of reading. While attending a book fest in 2009, I came across a crime thriller written by James Paterson. I was attracted to that book for some reason. I read the book after reaching home. I loved it. His writing was simple yet exciting.
People like and enjoy reading crime thrillers. But sadly, such books are not being published in Malayalam. I pondered on why such books were not being published in Malayalam. I had developed the dream of writing a thriller in Malayalam by then. I wrote the novel in order to fill the void as well as to see if the people today would read it.
About ‘Coffee House’
‘Coffee House’ was born as a result of my urge to prove that thriller fiction had a future in Malayalam literature. I wanted to prove that people would read if something like this was written. When a crime happens, there is plenty of evidence in front of us. This evidence leads us to one person.
Further investigation is not done after finding a convict. It is because all the evidence is against him. But, even after pointing out evidence, there is the possibility of a story beyond it. This thought led me to write ‘Coffee House’. Even after all the given evidence being against the convict, there is a good possibility that the convict might be innocent.
Novel based in Kottayam
Kottayam is a known place for me. I am the kind of person who believes that a novel must be written based on reality. While reading the novel, the readers must wonder if it had happened for real. That is precisely why I had used existing places and buildings in my novel. It was an equal blend of reality and fiction. When people who have read the novel passes by such places, they should connect to the place and think that it had happened there. The novel was based in Kottayam due to this wish of mine.
Second novel ‘Hydrangea’
‘Coffee House’ was a heroine oriented movie. The heroine's name was Esther Emmanuel. Esther Emmanuel was a journalist. She was also a social worker who had once caught a criminal and had raised her voice in order for the criminal to be punished. ‘Coffee House’ speaks about how she goes into investigating a case after quitting her job as a journalist.
The second novel, ‘Hydrangea’ speaks about her life from then on. She is a normal woman after quitting her job and ending the coffee house case. Someone enters into her life and a lot happens. ‘Hydrangea’ speaks about the challenging situations that she had to tackle with as well as how a woman should bring out the hidden talents in her to overcome such situations. ‘Hydrangea’ is the second book from the Esther Emmanuel Series. Mathrubhumi Books will be publishing it.