It’s not for nothing that Vish Dhamija is called India’s John Grisham, though he personally resents this statement.
“Why this fetish for comparison? There is no merit in getting compared with the world’s best because you’ll always fall short. I am my own writer,” says Dhamija, who is one of the first few authors to stimulate the legal fiction genre in the country.
The bestselling author of eight crime fiction books is especially popular for his Rita Ferreira series – Bhendi Bazaar, Doosra and Lipstick – that has been adapted by producer Vikram Malhotra (Abundantia Enertainment) for a multi-season web series.
“A web series gives you the chance to properly flesh out a character and the story. (A movie of) two or three hours usually cannot do justice to a character,” says Dhamija, who is penning the fourth book in the Rita Ferreira series as he awaits the screenplay of the web series which he presumes, “… is being presently written.”
Known for his multi-layered plots, believable characterisation and captivating storylines, Dhamija is regarded as ‘top 51 Indian authors to follow’ by ebooks India.
His first book, Nothing Lasts Forever, surpassed all his expectations, propelling him to write more. The second, Bhendi Bazaar, which arrived after a self-imposed hiatus of four years, too is known for its ingenious plot and rich characters.
And his legal thrillers, Déja Karma and Unlawful Justice too have been bestsellers (the third in the series Cold Justice is slated for 2021). Ask him why did he choose the genre of crime fiction, he says, “I find it more satisfying even though I know romance sells more.”
In India, for the Gurgaon Literature Fest 2019 where he was awarded the best crime thriller award for The Mogul, Dhamija is equally excited about his ninth book, Lipstick.
“It released just under a month ago and I’m looking forward to the response from the readers,” says the author, an MBA grad with specialisation in marketing and strategy from Manchester Business School in the UK. He lives in Britain with wife Nidhi Singh, the great-granddaughter of Raja Mahendra Pratap, who was the first president of the first Provisional Government of India.
The British-Indian author says lit fests are the best places to get to know and bond with other writers on the literary circuit.
“I miss out on a lot of action here since I do not live in India,” says Dhamija, who plans to attend another lit fest at the India Habitat Centre this month-end.
“That so many lit fests are being organised clearly indicates that people are reading books, and that the books have successfully fought competition from other mediums of entertainment like TV, web series and movies,” avers Dhamija.
Talking about the importance of literary agents in an author’s life today, Dhamija says, “It is not easy to get a literary agent, but important to have one if you want your book to reach the right hands. Very few publishers sign a new author. They prefer books coming to them through literary agents. It is not entirely unexpected though, they must be getting scores of books and assessing each book is a huge task.”
He always listens to the advice given by his literary agent. “Writing is a collaboration wherein inputs of a literary agent and publisher’s points of view are taken into account, be it the editing or the cover design. But never ever has it happened that I have been told to change the story,” he says. How about self-publishing to avoid all this chaos?
“Not advisable. It doesn’t come cheap. You should be paid for the work you have done and not vice versa. Also distribution is a big challenge,” says Dhamija.