We would like to introduce you to author Vish Dhamija. He is currently working in a European Digital Marketing Communications team for one of the largest companies in the world. He has done MBA from Manchester Business School, UK. Let us know more from him in his own words.
What inspired you to start writing?
I had a story in mind for over a decade. I toyed with the idea of penning it down several times, but never made an attempt. It’s like so many other people who think they will write one day, but there are always other, more pressing, things that need attention. Then one day — I remember it was 2008 — I decided I’d give it a go. If I couldn’t finish it or it did not read well, so what? At least, I’ve tried. Thus began Nothing Lasts Forever, which got published in 2010. The response was good, people liked it and it became a bestseller (sold 10K in first 6-7 months) so I thought why not another one?
What did you liked to read when you were a boy?
That’s a long time ago (laughs). The world was different when I was growing up. There weren’t too many distractions like today. No videos, DVDs, no game consoles, no smart-phones; even the television was B&W, with a telecast for 2 hours in the evening. So the chief entertainment was movies or books. Again, there weren’t Kindle and Amazon so you relied on word-of-mouth reviews by family and friends. You read what others read as we changed books and comics between us friends. Or got them issued from the school library. A large part of my initial reading was Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and, of course, the super reporter-investigator Tintin comics. I still read the entire Tintin catalogue once every two years.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Discipline. Patience. Detail. Research. Language.
It’s not that I get more ideas than the next person. It’s just that I ensure I note those ideas down, research and put those ideas into words, and then string them together to make an interesting story. And that’s the challenge. You have to ensure that the story is exciting enough for readers that they don’t leave it halfway through; conversely, it should have enough details for readers to immerse into it.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
A lot. I research before, during and after I finish writing the first draft. There is no easy way if you want your story to be believable. You have to remember that these days readers have access to the same online world that you do. One implausible gadget/situation/modus operandi or a mistake in location or description and it will all sound ridiculous.
What motivated you to write the book “Bhendi Bazaar”?
I wanted to write in a sub-genre that hadn’t been attempted in India on a big scale: noir. Bhendi Bazaar is what they call dark fiction. It is not an everyday crime story. It takes you through the dark alleys of life that truly exists in every corner of the world — not just in Mumbai or India. It’s a serial killer story, but it also takes you into the minds of the killers — why they do what they do. How do they perceive their actions? How do they rationalise it to themselves?
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Bhendi Bazaar”?
The story is set against the quintessential glamour and grime of Mumbai. Bhendi Bazaar (part of the story is set in the eponymous location and hence the name) is a psychological thriller. It is a tale of two amazing women set in different periods: DCP Rita Ferreira’s story essentially begins where Viviane Casey’s ends. However, I haven’t penned it chronologically. I started the story in the present — murders and Rita & Co.’s investigation — but it is periodically peppered with flashbacks that transport the reader into Vivian’s grim life in Mumbai’s vicious red light area, her joyful moments when she falls in love with an underworld don, and an insight into Indian legal system that fails her. The two stories, obviously, conclude together.
I never had any other idea to be honest. I’ve read crime fiction most of my adult life, save for an occasional biography or two. So when I thought about writing, it was the only genre I could think of. However, I try to include other aspects so it isn’t plain whodunit. Some people wrote to me after reading Bhendi Bazaar that they had figured out who the killer could be halfway through (no one knew who or why — they couldn’t connect it till they finished) but the story isn’t merely that. It’s more about how you catch a serial killer — most serial killers ever caught have above average IQs. It might appear so, but they don’t kill randomly, there’s always a pattern. The trick is to unearth that pattern to catch the killer. It is about how Rita Ferreira gets to the killer.
My next book, Déjà Karma (releasing next month) is legal / crime fiction.
Who are your favourite authors?
James Ellroy, Lawrence Sanders, Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Lee Child… quite frankly, the list is endless.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
Given my office / work schedule I don’t write daily. I normally write over weekends. Morning is my favourite time of the day for everything. I get up around 5-5:30 on Saturdays and Sundays, make myself a coffee, put on some music and then sit down with my laptop and notes. I work for about 3-4 hours (maybe have another coffee) before I wake up my wife with a tea.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Words of wisdom… you’re surely joking? Read. Read what’s already out there in the genre you want to write in; there is no substitute for that. I read 2 /3 crime novels a month, sometimes more. Of course, I enjoy the narrative, but I also enjoy the prose, the perspective, the plotting, the word choice, the rhythm, character building, sentence structure. All I can say is anything worth doing is worth doing well so don’t make any compromises… don’t rush.
You can buy his book now: