Author Interview : Ismita Tandon Dhanker


“I am deep, as I am shallow, strong as I am weak, brave as I am afraid. The ebb tide and flood tide; I am the confounding ocean, Its fury and calm, wave and tsunami. Unknown to myself, I am much more than just a writer, a poet. ”

This is how, “A lesser known poet”; Ismita Tandon Dhanker likes to introduce herself. Yes she certainly is a combination of everything. She is a poet a novelist and extremely cheerful person. Ismita has achieved some very notable literary awards and accolades, something that every aspiring writer dreams to achieve someday.

Her poem, ‘The Beasts Run Wild’, is currently up on MSN, as part of an ongoing exclusive feature “Her Courage” in tribute to Indian women.  Ismita’s, ‘I am Beautiful’ won prize money of 50,000 on the Yahoo-Dove Indibloggers contest.

Author’s corner at writersmelon is our initiative to encourage those writers who have managed to see the light of print recently and have been able to make a mark. And this month , when we saw Ismita’s profile , we didn’t want to let go ! 

Romance, mystery and thriller being her forte, her books have been released by reputed publishing houses and are remarkably edgy and interesting. Be it the romantic thriller Love on the Rocks, (a Penguin imprint released in 2011) or the mystery novel Love Kills ( slated for release by HarperCollins India), or  her fourth book –  a YA Fantasy titled Spawn of the Moon, a book filled with mystical creatures.

1)     Your first book ‘Love on the rocks’ was a murder mystery and so is Jacob Hills. Why the fascination with murder mysteries?

As a child I loved reading mystery novels, even bunk school to do so. I was always short of attendance. I would just pretend to be sick and curl up in bed with a novel. What I find fascinating about mysteries is that you don’t really know what’s going to happen next and that gives you a rush, a sense of excitement.

2)     Your introduction speaks a lot about the poet in you. What made you write a novel? And what is more difficult- writing poetry or prose?

Poetry comes easy, it’s like music, one can hum a song no matter where they are. Prose requires discipline. A novel is like a work of art, strokes, colour scheme, brightness everything has to be in a certain proportion to catch the onlooker’s eye.

3)     Coming from an Army background, the background for the book Jacob Hills must have come naturally to you. How close are the situations and incidences in the book to real life?

I am going to quote Mark Twain, ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ and let you decide for yourself.

4)     What genre of books interest you and which are the Indian authors who have really impressed you with their work?
Deepak Chopra is my favorite Indian author. His books, ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ was the book that changed my outlook towards non-fiction and life in general. I stopped reading fiction a while back. However, two Indian authors whose work I find impressive are, Oswald Pereira, author of The News Room Mafia and Revenge of the Naked Princess and Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, author of The Taj Conspiracy.

5)     How would you describe your writing style? Have you seen any difference in it now as compared to when you wrote your first book?

My writing is edgy. I write what I see, feel and experience around me and sometimes it’s pleasant. Since, the first book I have gotten comfortable writing intimate scenes. It’s a challenge to present love and sex in a different light than the clichéd boy meets girl.


6) There are a lot of sub-plots in Jacob Hills which deal with social issues that are seldom discussed openly.  Do you think the Indian reader is mature enough to understand the social message behind it?

Irrespective of whether the readers are mature or not, Child Sexual Abuse, marital rape and sycophancy have been a part of our society for long. The book dwells in the human mind and the complexes that drive people to change sexual partners, abuse children and other so called immoral acts.

7) Any words for budding writers?

Write about the things that make you angry, sad, deliriously happy and utterly mad. I believe that’s where all great writing is born, in the intensity of our emotions. That’s the treasure trove of ideas and haunting stories.

8)     How easy or difficult is getting a book published in India?

It was difficult when I started but today, we have a fine crop of literary agents who make the task of approaching publishers so much easier. One such brilliant agent is Kanishka Gupta, who runs the Writer’s Side literary agency.

9)     What do we expect next from Ismita Tandon Dhanker?

My third mystery novel Love Kills is slated for a December release by Harper. Currently, I am working on a prequel to Jacob Hills, set in the aftermath of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

— Interviewed By Roshni Nair 
 A recruitment consultant based out of Pune , avid reader and an active iMelonite .
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 – An initiative to feature notable authors. 
Jacob Hills — By Ismita Tandon Dhanker is the book “In Focus”

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