Interview with Dr Mani

What do you read for pleasure?
My reading interests are diverse. For fiction and light reading, I enjoy mystery novels, adventure thrillers and romantic comedy. I'm always happy to read childrens' books and still devour any Enid Blyton or Hardy Boys books I can lay my hands on. Among my favorite authors are Agatha Christie, P.G.Wodehouse, Gerald Durrell, Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum and John Locke.

In addition, I read plenty of non-fiction including how to guides, self improvement books, biographies, history textbooks and science (quantum physics, astronomy, molecular biology and genetics/genomics are special interests). Authors I particularly enjoy reading are Stephen Covey, Nick Lane, Michio Kaku, Steven Pinker, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jared Diamond.

So, as you can see, the range and taste of my reading material is all over the place. I aim to read at least 3 new books every month, and generally manage to hit this target.
Who are your favorite authors?
For fiction:

P.G.Wodehouse
Agatha Christie
Arthur Conan Doyle
Mario Puzo
Robert Ludlum

For non-fiction:

Tracy Kidder
Steven Pinker
Malcolm Gladwell
Stephen Covey
Al Ries and Jack Trout
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in India, but flew out of the country when I was barely a year old. First stop, Australia. Then a couple of years in New Zealand, and on to the U.S. of A. where I went to kindergarten. My regular schooling was back in India, giving me a rare experience of having circled the globe before I was even aware of it.

But I believe this early adventure had some influence on my writing. I've always been curious and inquisitive about things around me. This led to reading a lot on unrelated subjects, going deep into intriguing areas of exploration that fueled new questions and increased the scope of my reading. Quite naturally, while writing books and reports, this extensive study finds some place in my own work, be it fiction or technical writing.

Another area that my writing was influenced by the way I grew up is in keeping things simple so that it will be easy to understand by a global audience. No jargon or lingo. No complex words or run-on sentences. No technical mumbo-jumbo. Just plain, straight, simple words and points. My readers seem to enjoy it, too.
Describe your desk
In 2 words? A MESS :-)

I have my iMac (with a giant screen) on which I do most of my writing. The Kindle ereader and a mobile phone share the remaining space with a pen stand and organizer (which is supposed to contain all that I need in day to day work, but often is missing the one item I need at any given moment!).

Some papers that need attention/action, a box that's meant to temporarily hold stuff I mean to get around to "later", and a few books I'm reading at the moment add to the clutter that's aggravated by my wallet, note pads, a couple of modems, sundry pens and pencils, a watch and knick-knacks... you get the picture?

Suffice it to say I've only described one-THIRD of what's on my desk top - so you can imagine how it might look! :-)
When did you first start writing?
Surprisingly enough, I'd never written before I was twenty years old - and even then, it happened quite by accident and was a one-off thing.

At medical school, we had a contest on creative writing, and I casually submitted my entry. To my complete astonishment (and secret joy!), my submission won 2nd prize. But that was all the writing I did for the next 10 years as I was deeply involved in a series of residency programs that led to my specializing as a heart surgeon for children.

It was only after we had Internet access in India, around 1995, that I was once again moved to try my hand at writing. I designed a website on heart disease which quickly grew popular enough to have me invited to be a guest writer at a company which became one of the top 10 online Web properties - About.com

Since then, I have been prolific in my writing. And since a portion of my earnings from writing go to fund a non-profit project close to my heart, I remain deeply motivated to continue writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, "How To Focus - Stop Procrastinating, Improve Your Concentration & Get Things Done!" was created in response to a large section of my blog readers and email newsletter subscribers saying they were drowning under a deluge of information and backlog of work left undone.

When I talked to them or asked questions, it quickly became obvious that most of these people were no busier or overloaded with tasks or responsibilities than I was myself. Indeed, most had barely half the work I handled comfortably in my day - with time to spare for important things like family, health and reading.

That's when I realized the key difference lay in one thing. Focus. I got more done because I had learned how to focus and tune out distraction. It's a learned skill. One that can be taught. And anyone can learn it. That gave me the idea for a book on 'How To Focus'.

It's the first of a proposed series that spans other elements of personal productivity. I look forward to seeing the simple approach shared in it touch thousands of lives and transform people from being harried, stressed-out robots back into regular, happy, satisfied human beings!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've only ever sent ONE book proposal to a conventional publisher. (No prizes for guessing that it was turned down!)

As I started writing seriously only after the advent of the Internet in India, publishing my own work always sounded easier than begging someone else to help out. Of course, the challenge lay in getting people interested in reading what I wrote - which is why I studied online marketing seriously... and became quite good at it.

My busiest websites received over 1,000 visits every day - and I had 3 or 4 like that at any given time. With that kind of audience already visiting my online properties, writing books of interest to them practically eliminated the need for a publishing house. Other than the carrot of having a cash advance, I couldn't see much advantage in pursuing a traditional route to book publishing... and so I've stayed a self-published writer, by choice.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing my words make an impact on a reader is the greatest thrill I get from writing. Especially after I published '47 HEARTS - How To Live Your Dreams With Passion, Purpose & Persistence' at www.47hearts.com, I was touched by the flood of email and social media comments by readers who felt inspired and excited to pursue their own dreams.

As books go, this was not a typical product. It was more of a collection of 47 snippets of advice or guidance, based on my own experiences with setting up a non-profit foundation, seeking support and funding to sponsor heart surgery for kids, and exploring different avenues to raise enough money to make my dream come true.

That it resonates in so many hearts and serves to motivate readers to live their dreams is extremely fulfilling and satisfying.
What do your fans mean to you?
In a word, EVERYTHING.

Some of the longest standing supporters of my work with heart kids are those who first bought my books or read my blog or got to know me after reading one of my articles or essays - often many years ago. They have remained friends, continued to buy my books, spread word to their friends, and share the important message of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) awareness among networks that I could never reach or connect with by myself.

The true value of my fans and readers can't be measured in any numerical terms. It goes far beyond this, into the spiritual realm of "making a difference" and "changing the world".

I'm proud and honored to know you all. Thank you.
What are you working on next?
"How To Focus" is the first of a series of guides on personal productivity guides. I plan to write the others shortly.

I'm also working on another manuscript, a powerful little book that follows in the footsteps of Richard Bach's "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull".

It's called "The Icedrop" and has been in the works for nearly 6 years now... not because it's a complicated piece of writing, but because I'm never satisfied with the drafts and keep revising them. I expect it to be completed this year. You can get updates by following my blog, 'Money.Power.Wisdom' at www.MoneyPowerWisdom.com
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Meeting new people through my writing.
Learning new things through my reading.
Creating new things from my imagination.
Touching more lives through my non-profit efforts.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Writing is what I do in my spare time. In "real life", I'm a practicing pediatric cardiac surgeon and operate on children with congenital heart defects in addition to managing a non-profit foundation that helps spread CHD awareness and raises funds.

I also have built an extensive online presence through my writing, and sell 65+ ebooks through various websites. Reading, listening to music, travel and spending time with my family fill the rest of any available time. Yet I don't feel rushed or "too busy" - thanks to a system of being not just efficient, but also effective. A system that I hope to share with many readers through this series of books.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mainly through recommendations by friends and family. Whenever I see a particularly intriguing book mentioned on social networks like Goodreads or Facebook, I'll add it to my Amazon.com wish list. That way, the next time I'm looking for something to read, there's bound to be something interesting ready to purchase.

On the Kindle store, I'll sometimes pick up a book or two when it's on free giveaway. This has helped me find some nice authors I'd have never heard about otherwise. However, given the wide range of writing quality, I have a VERY low threshold to bail out on a book by an unheard-of-before author - unless they quickly capture my attention and interest through their writing.
Published 2014-04-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

How To Focus - Stop Procrastinating, Improve Your Concentration & Get Things Done - Easily!
Price: $4.97 USD. Words: 9,490. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Time Management, Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General
How would you like to find 3 EXTRA hours in your day - everyday? You can - if you learn how to focus! Condensed into this short, crisp, tightly written guide are little-known secrets guaranteed to make you more efficient. Stop procrastinating. Improve your concentration. Get things done faster. Read this now to discover how to focus bette