Damyanti Biswas joins The Spotlight to discuss The Blue Bar, a literary crime novel

Author Name: Damyanti Biswas

Book Title: The Blue Bar

Book Genre: Literary Crime

Release Date: January 1, 2023

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Welcome Damyanti! How would you describe THE BLUE BAR?

In gritty, glam Mumbai, a feisty bar dancer and a dynamic Inspector in love are unaware they’re being watched by the same predator.

What sparked the idea for THE BLUE BAR?

Back in 2017, I took a workshop with award-winning author Romesh Gunesekera, and he gave us a prompt: write about someone who is being watched but isn’t aware of it. That became the first chapter of THE BLUE BAR—Tara at the railway station, being asked to pose in a blue sequined saree, and disappear from the station within three minutes. Someone is watching her.

How long did it take for you to write THE BLUE BAR? Did you do any research?

I started writing the book in 2018 and finished the first draft in a month. It went through several subsequent drafts. There was a substantial amount of research involved—I met officers of the Mumbai Police, spent time taking a bit of a workshop on forensics, walked Mumbai’s streets and photographed some of the venues. I spoke to members of Bollywood, directors and actors, and also observed a movie shoot in one of Bollywood’s major studios.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

The first drafts and the edits are my favorite part of the process. I don’t enjoy proofreads because I’ve read the book multiple times by then, and can’t see the errors clearly. The real challenge lies in promotions—I make myself do what I can for the book, but I can’t wait to withdraw from most social media like the hermit I am. I like supporting other authors, but don’t enjoy working on my own book promotions.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read THE BLUE BAR?

If you’re intrigued by atmospheric thrillers with characters you can root for, where the plot twists are organic, the pace is relentless, and the villain is an utter surprise, you might want to check out THE BLUE BAR. The Mumbai setting is an added bonus.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

How long it takes between each step, and how fast each step is. You might wait for months for a particular stage, and then it happens within weeks.

Any words of wisdom for your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?

Figure out why you’re writing. It could be the approval of your peers, for money and fame, or for your own satisfaction. Rarely does an author reach the heights of all three, and the most successful ones often find two. If you know beforehand why you’re writing, you’ll plan better, and be able to weather the inevitable downturns and rejections.

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I’m currently working on the developmental edits of the sequel to THE BLUE BAR. It is provisionally titled BLUE BLACK HAIR. They’re both part of the Blue Mumbai series. This next one is also set in Mumbai, shares the same cast of characters, but the crimes are different. Castrated and murdered men are being dumped in temple premises in Mumbai, their bodies surrounded by symbols of tantra worship, and Inspector Rajput must solve the cases amid relentless storms and rain.

Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!

All my links are here, and I love hearing from readers.

Thank you, Damyanti! The Blue Bar is available NOW.

On the dark streets of Mumbai, the paths of a missing dancer, a serial killer, and an inspector with a haunted past converge in an evocative thriller about lost love and murderous obsession.

After years of dancing in Mumbai’s bars, Tara Mondal was desperate for a new start. So when a client offered her a life-changing payout to indulge a harmless, if odd, fantasy, she accepted. The setup was simple: wear a blue-sequined saree, enter a crowded railway station, and escape from view in less than three minutes. It was the last time anyone saw Tara.

Thirteen years later, Tara’s lover, Inspector Arnav Singh Rajput, is still grappling with her disappearance as he faces a horrifying new crisis: on the city’s outskirts, women’s dismembered bodies are being unearthed from shallow graves. Very little links the murders, except a scattering of blue sequins and a decade’s worth of missing persons reports that correspond with major festivals.

Past and present blur as Arnav realizes he’s on the trail of a serial killer and that someone wants his investigation buried at any cost. Could the key to finding Tara and solving these murders be hidden in one of his cold cases? Or will the next body they recover be hers?