"I Am A Hybrid Writer," In Conversation With Vish Dhamija - Author of Prisoners Dilemma, Bhendi Bazaar And Ten More Books

"Indian John Grisham" - The terms brings to your mind the face of none other than Vish Dhamija. We saw him master crime fiction, holding the reins of the plot which he manoeuvres seamlessly through the twists and surprises. Being at the peak of his career with the tenth book "Prisoner's Dilemma" grabbing the eyeballs with rave reviews, Vish Dhamija shares his journey with Outset, through our virtual tete-a-tete.
Vish Dhamija - Prisoner's Dilemma


Virtual tete-a-tete with Vish Dhamija 

Friendship or freedom, what would you choose?” This is a tagline that hooks readers. How did this idea come to you?

Prisoner’s Dilemma as a concept (in-game

theory) is simply that. Rationally, there should be no reason to doubt your friend—you should know that your friend will not double-cross you, but you are talked into doubting years of friendship. Once that happens, you get paranoid and consequently, the self-preservation instinct takes over your rational mind. That is the entire premise of the book, so when I began writing I knew that is the challenge I’ll put forth to the protagonist(s), and I appreciate the dilemma it puts the reader in. 

As any tagline should, it is the heart and soul of the story, and it makes you stop and think. 


Both friendship and freedom are so vital to life that one should never want to be put in a situation to decide between them.

Do you plan a book or do you go with the flow?

I’ve been asked this before. I am more of a hybrid writer if there’s a term like that, and I doubt there are writers who plan a story to the last detail before they begin penning it. In my case, I usually have the idea/premise of the story firmed up in my mind before I start writing. For example in crime fiction, I’ll know what crime is going to be committed in the beginning (burglary, theft, murder or any other) and how will it unfold for the investigator (police, detective, lawyer) and the reader. Or, if it’s a crime caper and the protagonist gets away, how will s(he) do that. The rest I decide…as I write.

When did your connection with crime fiction begin?

To be honest I was fascinated by crime fiction before I was even aware I was reading them. 

Like most of my friends at the time, I started with comic books. 

The earliest ones were Indrajal Comics (Phantom and Mandrake), and then Tarzan before moving on to Tintin and Asterix and Obelix. Do you see what I mean? I was enjoying these comics without knowing I was reading crime fiction in this format. Mysteries from Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys came next, followed by Agatha Christie and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Now I enjoy reading every sub-genre: legal & psychological thrillers, noir, crime capers, cosy crime, police procedural, romantic suspense… the list is unending.

When did you recognise the writer in you?

I don’t think I recognised that after the success of my first book, Nothing Lasts Forever, which was published in 2010. Writing a book was one of the things on my bucket list so when the book got published I thought I was done. But it just kept selling, readers kept asking when am I going to write my next one? And I had no plans to write a second one. Eventually, I wrote Bhendi Bazaar, published in December 2014. When that went to become number one on the Amazon Crime chart and featured among bestselling books in Crossword stores, I realised I had a calling. And now, with six of my books being signed up for adaptation to screen, and three of my legal thrillers becoming a subject of a doctoral thesis by a PhD student, it gives me the added confidence that I should keep going.



Tell us a bit about you(Your background, childhood etc)

I was born and raised in Ajmer, in Rajasthan. I went to Jodhpur for post-graduation in management. Then worked in various organisations in Jaipur, Chennai, Jamnagar and Mumbai before moving to Manchester to study MBA in 2000. The plan was to complete an MBA and return to India, but life had other plans for me. As they say in Yiddish: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

From Nothing Lasts Forever to Prisoner’s Dilemma, how far do you think you have grown?

Ten years :) People who’ve read all my books tell me that my writing has matured. No one says I have matured. Jokes aside, as an author I like to experiment. 

I write across sub-genres of crime fiction.

I use various styles of narratives—I break chronology, I use a first and third-person or both in the same story, I use different perspectives (e.g. in The Mogul the narrative unfolds through the perspectives of the ensemble characters—seven of them). With years of writing, I’ve grown and learned that there are various ways of telling the same story, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to present it to my readers for it to be most impactful.

You have been in the industry for a decade now. How was your publishing journey?

I finished writing Nothing Lasts Forever at the beginning of 2009. It took me almost 16 months to find the first publisher, so it wasn't easy. It became just a little easier, not a lot. You may have written a masterpiece, but the publishers have to put on their commercial hats and evaluate the work. In the end, if the publisher doesn’t think the book is commercially viable, they aren’t going to invest in the book.

Are you planning your next book?

As I said, I didn’t have any books between 2010 and 2014 (almost 4 years), but I still wanted ten in ten, a promise (made to self) that I had to break due to the outbreak of Covid last year.
Prisoner’s Dilemma was due in 2020, but it
got delayed. But I’ve made myself a new promise: I’ll
have twenty books before 2030, fingers crossed. So yes, I'm always writing something. 
The next book should be out in early 2022. 

What is your advice to aspiring readers?

Read, read, read. Write, edit, rewrite. Don’t worry about the publishing deal, don’t bother what others say. Yes it is difficult to find a publisher, yes it is an over-crowded marketplace, but don’t forget publishers need new voices as much as you need publishers. Also, never undermine the value of a good literary agent. Find yourself one.

How can the readers reach you?

 They should join me on Instagram (@vish_dhamija) and message me. I always respond if I think the question/request is genuine, and I think I can help or guide someone. But remember, sometimes it might take a little time to get a reply. It’s Instagram, not Instant-gram :)


Vish Dhamija is the most down to earth bestselling writers I have ever come across. Without the air of a celebrity writer, he has been patient, cooperative and considerate. I have reviewed his books earlier in 2017 and then my reviews were as short as an intro. Further, I reviewed Lipstick and now Prisoners Dilemma. All through the years I could see a growing graph of this incredible writer. Adding the review of 

Comments

  1. What an interesting interview! I find the author's answers very genuine and refreshing, even humorous :) Such a great interview. (Reens)

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  2. Authors interview are always something which had intrigued me, this is one which i would keep in my mind for a very long time!!!

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  3. I am definitely impressed with the way you framed this interview to bring your readers closer to the author. Right questions and in right sequence turned this session no less than a story telling by the author ... Much love for you Rakhi. ❤️

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  4. Well, I loved the interview. The interview helps in understanding the process of writing for an author and that helps in understanding the book. Thank you for bringing the interview to us.

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  5. You have mastered the art of Interviewing. The questions will make the interviewee think deeply and then give the proper answer. Loved this.

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  6. Di now a days I am trying hard to learn the author interview which I think is the what way to interact with authors and know more about them. This author is very much new to me so your interview or rather the conversation that took place enchanted me. ❤️

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  7. I loved reading your interview. You have a distinct and wonderful style of reviewing that makes me go awe. Great interview RakhiπŸ€—πŸ€—.

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  9. I always get a lot of tips while reading your interviews... this author is new to me and yes I got to know more about him.. thank you for sharing

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  10. I always get a lot of tips while reading your interviews... this author is new to me and yes I got to know more about him.. thank you for sharing

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  11. It is so good to know a renowned author and have his suggestions coming in for us budding writers.

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  12. I love author interviews. With a book, you know about the author, but with an interview session, you know about the author's connection with the book.

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  13. Great interview. You have covered all aspects. Thanks! Gunjan

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  14. Love to know a renowned author like him and the way you arrange your questions that's wonderful. Excellent experience overall.

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  15. It was a great interview. though hybrid writer is a new term for me but as author said, I also follow the same technique for my content creation. keeping an initial idea ready in mind always help in writing better and it also make writing process fast and efficient.

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  16. Knowing new author everyday is a new treat to me. And also knowing it from the most talented person also makes me feel wonderful. This is a wonderful post from you which had enhanced my knowledge a lot ☺️

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  17. It was fun knowing what goes inside the mind of best selling author .. i had thoroughly enjoyed reading Lipstick in past and now waiting to grab Prisoners Dilemma soon

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  18. The interview looks amazing. The interview helps in understanding the process of the writing that the author adopts.

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  19. I loved reading your interview. This author is very much new to me. Now waiting to grab Prisoners Dilemma soon.

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  20. Waao this is so amazing interview. Author interviews are something which excites me to find out how they started and how it all went

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  21. That was an insightful interview. The questions were framed nicely and of course the author gave great answers for everyone to understand πŸ‘πŸ‘

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  22. The questions asked in your interviews are always intresting and highlight the author's perspective clearly.

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  23. I love the work of Vish Dhamjia, his crime fictions are best.. love this interview as well .. Got to know more about him

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  24. I really loved the interview, so much to learn from this personality. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring interview!!

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  25. Thank you for introducing us to the great author and his book. Really loved the interview. And, especially his journey and his line that publishers need new voices. This is encouraging for the aspiring writers who often feel disheartened.

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  26. Really liked his advice..read read, write and rewrite . That's the only formula.. These is no short cut. Being resilient and perseverance is the key for sustainability. Would love to read his books. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. That is such a lovely interview of Vish Dhamija. I am happy to have across this post and know more about him. His book seems really nice and worth reading.

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  28. For being a good writer, one has to be voracious reader and I liked how humble is the author who accepted his success only after second book, good to know more about him through this post.

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  29. What goes inside the mind of fiction writer's mind is itself very intriguing. Also it was good to know more about his writer's calling thing. I am waiting to get my hands on Vish's next one.

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  31. Nice interview. It's nice to know that people who have become celebrities also are down to earth. Do check the end of your blog and complete it.

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  32. I've 2 books of VD and I've read one and yet to read another one. But I really enjoy the way he plays with plot to make it interesting and keep you guessing as to what is going to happen next.

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  33. An interview for all we writers it's so amazing to know and good tips to go with thank you for sharing ❤

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  34. I like the term hybrid writer :) nice interview, i liked your questions, and the answers are interesting to read...and an insight into the authors mind - so much fun to read :)

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  35. He is so inspriring. I loved his refreshing and witty answers. Also the tips shared are quite helpful.

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  36. Wow,love the authors interview,its so amazing,how he shares his experience behind writing the book. Its really commendable and interesting.

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  37. An interesting interview indeed. Though i read very less of crime fiction but i get the thrill of this genre across all the Main genres. Also the advice he gave, to read, write, read write and edit is brilliant.

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