Nish Amarnath is a New York-based journalist, author and poet whose latest book, Victims for Sale, published by HarperCollins, was nominated for the Mumbai Film Festival Word-to-Screen Award. Nish has worked under the guidance of Writers House NYC founder and literary agent Al Zuckerman who has groomed and launched various novelists ranging from Ken Follett and Barbara Kyle to Nora Roberts and Jenny White. Nish has been contributing editor at the Big Thrill Magazine, where she has profiled other prominent novelists like Christina Dodd and John Dobbyn. She holds a full-time editorial post in New York and is additionally a faculty member at the New York Writers Workshop. She was previously managing editor of one of Europe’s most prolific magazine publishing groups. Her writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal,Medium, the Washington, D.C.-based literary journal, Del Sol Review, the Radical Humanist, The Thrill Begins Magazine, BookTrib, Yahoo!, TheStreet.comand India Today, among others.
Victims for Sale
Victims for Sale, a strident exposé on social injustice, is a psychological thriller and crime suspense novel told in the voice of a young BBC stringer who fights to expose a crime ring where mentally challenged women are sexually abused and exploited. Hindustan Times likened the book to a David Fincher movie while British author and film producer Adam Hamdy endorsed it as a well-crafted, dark, tense, twisted thriller that takes readers on a disturbing ride through society’s underbelly.
Author Nish speak about Victims for Sale behind the scenes and her approach to storytelling as a tool to challenge sociocultural norms, tackle social misperceptions and address social injustice and mental health.
1.Victims for Sale is an astounding masterpiece of a psychological thriller with elements of crime, suspense and unease. How did it become a bestselling title in India?
Nish:Oh, thank you so much! It has indeed been an encouraging start. Within three months of its release, HarperCollins told me that it was one of only two titles on their fiction list that was getting repeat orders from thousands of bookstores and multi-product retail stores across the country. I give immense gratitude to all my readers for their overwhelming love and support, especially given that I was in depression during the lead-up to Victims for Sale and the time that followed. For this reason, I didn’t even market or promote the book, before and after its publication, aside from any activities HarperCollins wanted me to do. So, the novel just picked up on its own and stands on its own. I believe in dropping all my masks as a writer and being the truest version of myself that I can be. So, I feel like engaging in this vein with my readers really helped me find myself. As a writer, keeping my readers happy is my foremost priority and this is the view that has guided my approach to storytelling. I believe in telling a good story, one that has never been told before in the way that I could write it.
2.What is exclusive about Victims for Sale because of which people need to read it?
Nish:Many readers have described Victims for Sale as a form of dark fiction! Victims for Sale deploys emotions and sensations as tools to accelerate the pace of action and amplify the suspense building up through the scenes…until all that tension reaches a crescendo andexplodes into shards where secrets and torn pasts rise to the surface. It’s different from many other novels in that it seeks to weave an esoteric journey of self-introspection, reflection and deep-seated spiritual beliefs into a patchwork of murders, which must be dissected to reveal an oasis of violence that elicits the most damaged parts of the human psyche.
3.What difficulties did you face in getting Victims for Sale published and how did you overcome them?
Nish:I think the biggest challenge, in terms of breaking into fiction, was to stray away from the mold of public perceptions of my work solely as a financial journalist who had published two non-fiction business books, prior to Victims for Sale. Above and beyond, Victims for Sale is my debut novel even if it’s my third book. So, it was quite difficult to find a literary agent. I attended two writers’ conferences in New York where I connected with a few literary agents and even pitch directly to publishers. During this time, I received interest from Simon & Schuster, but the editor there wanted me to Americanize my narrative. I didn’t feel that would do justice to the heart of the story, which is set in the UK. So, I shifted my focus to finding an agent who would connect with my voice as a writer. I received an offer of representation from the Red Ink Literary Agency. A year and a half later, the book, formerly titled Falling Bridges, was picked up by HarperCollins, renamed as Victims for Sale and slated for release in 18 months. Publishing is a very slow and subjective business. Through the entire process, I learned the virtues of patience, belief in oneself and indefatigable faith in one’s work. But most importantly, I learned that it’s sometimes really good to give it a bit of a rest and divert your focus for a while when you know you’ve tried your best. That’s how I believe I broke through the blockage. It was during those months of giving it a rest that I woke up to an email from my literary agent—a bolt from the blue—about HarperCollins’ interest in acquiring the manuscript for a handsome advance.
4. We understand that your next novel, Twin Flame is a romance novel set in many different continents and that it is gathering interest and momentum among your readership, ahead of its publication. What more can you tell us about it? When can we expect to see it out?
Nish: Twin Flameis a contemporary love story infused with historical overtones and elements of magical realism. It’s driven primarily by conflict. All I can say is A South Asian Math prodigy’s wish for a boy in a painting to come alive materializes in the form of an Austrian-Jewish writer. But a troubling secret wrenches them apart, forcing them to confront their worst fears, if life is to give them one final chance. So, I’m currently seeking literary representation for it since my previous agent fell sick. When this book will be published, first of all, depends on when a literary agent is able and willing to represent it. I have had multiple positive responses to it, but it’s a process that involves a situation where both parties (the author and the agent) feel right about working together on this project. Also, I must give you all a heads-up that the title may change. Twin Flame is a title that has already stuck with many readers out there, but it’s still only a working title and it isn’t uncommon for agents and/or publishers to change the title later on. But it’s a novel that’s close to my heart and I’m quite excited about it. I have unswerving faith in this work and its ability to resonate with readers. Despite any ongoing uncertainties that may prevail, I feel it’s only a question of time before it gets literary representation.
5. How is Twin Flame different from Victims for Sale? And in what ways, is it similar?
Nish: Twin Flame and Victims for Sale are both oeuvres of commercial fiction whose narratives are driven by drama, action and turmoil. But Twin Flame has a higher emotional voltage guided by an undercurrent of feelings, perceptions, thought patterns and emotions that are far more subtle, far more nuanced and possibly more open to interpretation on the part of my readers. I’d like to believe that it might be more engaging with and relatable to readers as well because it explores emotions that many of us may have felt or experienced at some point of time or the other. Twin Flame also brings to light the impact of social conditioning on the human psyche. These social norms I address range from the arranged marriage to issues of race and immigration. The book also seeks to dispel gender stereotypes, social constructs and relationship silos. For example, not every human relationship can necessarily be pigeonholed or categorized, meaning certain connections are best seen through a lens of how these help you grow, expand your consciousness and help you follow your life path from a place of love and peace rather than fear, ego, obsession or vengeance.
6. How did you develop such a distinctive voice as a writer?
Nish: Finding one’s voice as a writer is a process that takes a ton of time. It isn’t an overnight occurrence. I’ve been writing from childhood and have always been a voracious reader. So, all of that gave me practice, knowledge and technique. I still have a long way to go as a novelist. But today, I’d say that my voice is driven by raw emotions that are both silent and apparent. This riverbed of emotions is one that is universal to all of us. For example, feeling jealous and happy at the same time. It’s the emotional voltage in my narratives that define my voice and guide my storytelling even as it cuts across different genres, all the way from crime and suspense to romance and magical realism.
You can buy Victims for Sale at bit.ly/VictimsForSale
If you’d like to be learn more about her next novel, Twin Flame, you can be part of her newsletter by signing up at www.nishamarnath.com/twinflamenovel.
Connect with Nish Amarnath:
Insta Author’s Account: @driverofdestiny
Insta Writer’s Page: @themillennialchick