Mentor Damyanti Biswas

Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency

Literary Crime

YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN (2019) Simon & Schuster India
THE BLUE BAR (2022) Thomas & Mercer

Damyanti’s debut literary crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin, was published by Simon & Schuster India, and optioned for screen by Endemol Shine. Her next, The Blue Bar and its untitled sequel have been signed by Thomas & Mercer. Her short fiction has been published at Smokelong, Ambit, Litro, Puerto del Sol and the Bouchercon anthology, among others. She serves as one of the editors of The Forge literary magazine. When not writing, she strolls by the beach listening to audiobooks, bakes pizzas and cakes, or potters about her tiny kitchen garden.

I’ve been writing short stories and having them accepted for publication for more than a decade. I signed with my first UK agent in 2016, and sold YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN in 2017 after a long time on submissions. It was published in 2019, and I parted amicably with the agent in late 2020. He still handles that book, and coordinates with Endemol Shine, who optioned YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN for screen in 2020. I found my current agent, Lucienne Diver, in June this year. After a brief submission period, she sold THE BLUE BAR in a 2-book deal with Thomas & Mercer, and the first book is slated for publication in Fall 2022.

I’ve been part of The Forge writing group and editor at The Forge Literary magazine for several years. I was a Pitchwars Mentor in 2019 and 2020, and have been reading query packages and manuscripts for critique partners, but most importantly, I have experience with both the crests and troughs of publishing, and am able to handhold a mentee through the journey.

I’ve been guided in my journey by so many others, and have often been given advice that stands me in good stead even today. It would be my pleasure to pay it forward. I also have a very selfish agenda: I love watching manuscripts grow into books! It will be a privilege to help a little in one such journey.

I love strong female characters, crime novels which involve issues of social justice or feminism, diverse stories, and stories that don’t just have pace but depth and resonance. Vivid settings are a huge plus.

I’m looking for crime novels that arise from character motivation, and are therefore very organic. I’m as much about the story as I’m about plot.

I’m looking for a contemporary story with crime elements, dark traditional whodunits, traditional mysteries, gritty thrillers or suspense with or without romance elements, and whydunits.

Language that enhances the story will get my attention. Literary crime and upmarket crime fiction, especially the dark and gritty end of the spectrum, are my wheelhouse.



  • Mystery/Thriller

I love twists that take me by surprise, but they must be character-driven, and not feel forced. While I read and write dark crime stories, I’m not keen on any gratuitous violence or sensationalization of any kind. I’m also not looking for any storylines that support racial discrimination, overt misogyny or violence against animals. I’d like to read mysteries and thrillers set in fantasy or sci-fi worlds, but am not a good fit for ghost stories and stories with horror elements.



  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Skype or phone call

I’m a huge cheerleader, and will be accessible via channels convenient to both of us. I prefer a call at the outset to set expectations and gain mutual understanding, give a thorough edit letter, and also mark the manuscript.

I’m more of a structural editor though, so I will be doing line edits only to point out habitual issues.

Absolutely open to discussions and a collaborative approach–the book belongs to the mentee, and my job will be to try and help them find their stride and write the best story they can. From time to time, I might recommend books on the craft of writing, and recommend exercises from them if these help an aspect of the novel.

Happy to help strategize with you about querying, researching agents, resume building, etc.

My ideal mentee is serious about their writing, willing to consider various viewpoints before making a decision, and open to making changes in order to make the story better.

As a mentor I’m encouraging but honest, and I’ll not sugarcoat the truths of the publishing world. I respect sensitivities, but the mentee needs to be objective and professional and understand that any feedback given is to the story, not the author.

Adult and new adult manuscripts only, please. Send me straightforward upmarket or literary crime novels, why-dun-its, who-dun-its, NON-cozy mysteries, crime novels or thrillers with strong female characters, crime novels which involve issues of social justice or feminism, gritty thrillers and suspense. I’m a supporter of diversity, and welcome stories from all marginalized communities.


—younger protagonists
—historical settings
—cozy mysteries
—military or spy thrillers
—ghosts and hauntings
—horror elements
— gratuitous violence
—story-lines that support misogyny or violence against animals


Criminal Minds
The Sinner
The Killing
Mare of Easttown

The Room by Emma Donoghue
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Atonement by Ian McEwan
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Whisper Man by Alex North
These Women by Ivy Pochoda
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite