An Interview With Leema Dhar
Leema Dhar is an Indian author. As of February 2016, she has written seven English books including few books in Hindi too. Born in Allahabad, India, Leema Dhar did her graduation from Allahabad University and has been always a girl with a different perspective and better introspection. Her novels are creating vibes in the writing world and her readers are going crazy for her writing. Miss Dhar, in an exclusive talk with Thousand Miles INC shared her views on life, interests and thrown some light regarding her best selling novels.
TM: What is the inspiration behind writing your last English novel The Committed Sin? It is a tale of love, revenge, hatred, mystery, and despair. Kindly talk us through the gist of the plot.
Leema Dhar: The inspiration behind writing a novel is always a mix of reality and imagination. For instance, you may observe the way a person flicks their hair, how the corner of their eyes form a wrinkle when they smile and so on. An inspiration is basically a starting point from where you begin weaving a plot. The story of my latest ‘The Committed Sin’ is based in Kolkata. It basically revolves around Pakhi, Seya and Aarav and how their life becomes entwined with one another. In the end, the reader comes to know that the characters are not who they’ve always appeared to be. The twist lies in the rush of the journey of the three major characters and it’s as if the reader is running with them. I always keep my novels open to interpretations and a reader can choose to comprehend the meaning their way. A good writer, for me, always shows you two lanes but never tells you which path to tread on.
TM: Do you think ‘The Inner Call’ of a person is the real call that one should follow and chase his dream?
I definitely believe in intuition and the voice of the conscience. For me, if I’m dreaming of a haunted cottage or a tree or a relatable face I believe it’s the call of destiny which drops a hint at every step of our life. If you love writing poetry, collecting postage stamps, playing the guitar or melodiously humming a tune. It’s nature calling you to feel the fire of your passion.
I never wanted a boring Monday. So I worked hard to make my future Mondays interesting and here I am. One should dream big while working hard towards making it come true.
TM: In your book, ‘You Touched My Heart’, it has been seen that a narrative of seriously haunting thirteen-day journey that evokes thrilling sensations causes the author to find the answer to the all the mysteries happening to her. How this theme came to your mind? Please talk us through.
Leema Dhar: This book is a piece of my life. It was my fourth bestselling novel because my readers said they could feel the goose-bumps and some said they could hear their own throbbing heart because the journey keeps them on the edge of their seats. I believe in omens. To put it in words, I should say I can hear the sound of silence and I love writing about the unsung heroes amongst us. I write exactly what I feel. When I write an emotional scene, tears run down my eyes. When I write a comic line, I laugh. The story of this novel is set in Mussoorie, a place I’ve always had a connection with. I took long walks to the graveyard. I spoke to people about certain mysterious incidences. But ultimately it was an emotional thriller, whereby the end of the novel, the reader finds the “home.”
TM: The protagonist Kira in your book, The Girl Who Kissed the Snake’ seemed to be in an avenging Do you think almost all girls in the world think the same way once they love someone?
Leema Dhar: Not just women, I believe every human has shades of grey. It’s just a matter of time. The only way to conquer a to conquer a person’s heart is through love. In this novel, Kira’s mother was raped when she was pregnant and hence the reason Kira was a vengeful foetus. Women struggle every single day, sometimes to fulfill their needs and sometimes to fulfill the desires of the society. Every person, I believe, is a hero of their own story. And one has to bear the brunt of life. So, no one except the circumstances is to be blamed for how a person behaves. But as we know, time heals almost every wound, though it never lets us forget.
TM: You left your AIEEE Rank for your creative passion. What was the driving force in you that drove you?
Leema Dhar: My passion for writing and my inability to hold on to regrets. The night before I was leaving for one of the premier National Institute of Technology, I told my parents I wanted to give my passion a try. Though it was a risqué thing to do, I’m happy and fortunate my parents acted as two solid pillars on which the foundation of Leema now rests.
You seem to write affluently both in English and Hindi. How do you manage to do so? Is your love for both the language or something more than this that helps you write in both of these?
Leema Dhar: I love each and every language of the world. They have their own essence, the flavour, the dialect that nothing can replace, not even the translated versions. An original always stays the original. I plan to write a novel in Hindi too for my Hindi belt readers. But I’m deeply in love with both the English and Hindi languages. Though I also know Bengali, it’ll take quite a few years to work on honing my craft in that specific language.
TM: How was the feeling when you received the ‘Women Achiever Award 2013’ by Amar Ujala ETV and being chosen as Youth Icon by All India Radio?
Leema Dhar: Oh! It was sheer bliss to be appreciated by my readers and the literary critics. Also, one of the best moments was when I saw my name in the Sahitya Akademi Yearbook. The intellectuals applauding my work and finding some substance behind my writings is all a writer needs. I am content but I am also desperate to finish my next as I now have the responsibility towards meeting the expectations of my readers. They have always showered their love and appreciation on me and I shall forever be grateful for that. Eventually, I also won the Woman Achiever Award in 2014. I was felicitated in the International Indo-Canadian Authors’ Conference in 2015 and was awarded in 2016 by the esteemed Women’s organization, for my contribution towards writing.
TM: Does one have to have different skills in writings to write both elaborated narrative plot and thought-intertwined poems?
Leema Dhar: I started off as being a poet. And then I turned to being a novelist. My first anthology of poems was in Hindi titled, ‘Kuch Lafz Naqab Mein’ which I wrote when I was in class Ninth. The second Anthology ‘For the Hundred Tomorrows’ was in English and it was published in 2010 when I was in class twelfth. My first novel was published in 2012 ‘Till We Meet Again’ followed my ‘Mom and I Love A Terrorist’ in the same year and then eventually my other novels. So I think if I can be a juggler, so can you. For a plot, you need a story, the speed, and the characters. And poetry is just the outburst of emotions whether personal or social. There are no different skills, You just need two basic skills- your imagination and your command over the language.
TM: Your advice to the novice upcoming authors in India. What are the things they should keep in mind?
Leema Dhar: First, I should say, always pursue a career where both your heart and mind agree. Second, if writing is your call then first start writing for yourself. Then eventually towards being an empathetic human who can feel the pain of the other. Third, Observe and imagine. There’s nothing to substitute these two essentials of being a writer. Fourth, don’t write to achieve fame and earn money. Write to put into words what the others couldn’t. Work towards providing pleasure to a reader. If you’ve been able to transform even one life, it’s equivalent to a Nobel Prize because, for me, humanity always comes first. Fifth and the most important-Write, edit. Write, edit. There’s no other shortcut. Always try imagining things contrary to what the readers might expect from you. And you are bang on!
TM: Your favourite author from your childhood days?
Leema Dhar: When I was a child I started off with Ruskin Bond. Then during my teenage days, I loved reading Jhumpa Lahiri and Khaled Hosseni. I still love re-reading them.
TM: Which famous person living or dead you like to meet and why?
Leema Dhar: Two, in fact. But they both are no more. One is Virginia Woolf, because her novel ‘To The Lighthouse’ has been an engrossing read for me and the last letter she wrote to her husband Leonard before ending her life, and the way she escaped from the world to die in the arms of the sea has always intrigued me. Another one is the Nobel Prize winning Samuel Beckett whose ‘Waiting for Godot’ has been a life-turner. Both have influenced and inspired me and they’ll somehow stay with me forever.
TM: Your thoughts on being featured in the ‘God and Religion’ issue of our Magazine.
Leema Dhar: I’m happy. It was a pleasure when the team approached me for the interview. Since I’m into divinity and spirituality, this is the best issue my article could be featured in. It’s a wonderful magazine that has lots in store for the youth.