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Author Interview – Shirani Rajapakse

June 25, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

What inspired your latest book?

My latest book is a collection of short stories inspired by the time I spent in India. It’s about women and the issues faced by women living in contemporary India.                         

How did you come up with the title?              

The title of the book, I Exist. Therefore I Am is also the title of one of the short stories in the collection. Each of my other previous books also uses one of the stories/poems as the title. I’ve done this as I wanted to have a title that exemplified what was in the whole collection.

(ebook) I Exist. Therefore I Am - Shirani Rajapakse

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

The message is that women need to be treated as equals and with dignity and the respect that is their due.

How much of the book is realistic?

Although fictionalized the stories are about real people and real lives. I’ve used examples of incidents that I came across to create my stories. The characters aren’t real but the issues these women face and the treatment they receive at the hands of society and of other women are very real.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

They are based on people I read or heard about from others or from newspapers. I’ve come across women who have either gone through similar experiences that my characters undergo or have known women who have.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

https://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/shiranirajapakseauthor

https://twitter.com/shiraniraj

https://www.pinterest.com/shiraniraj/

https://www.instagram.com/shiranirajapakse/

https://lk.linkedin.com/in/shiranirajapakse

https://www.goodreads.com/shiranirajapakse

My Book links are,

https://www.books2read.com/shiranirajapakse

https://www.books2read.com/iexist

https://www.books2read.com/breakingnews

https://www.amazon.com/author/shiranirajapakse

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

Yes. I’m planning on publishing a poetry collection this year. It is about the effects of conflict on people and how they live through it. As a people,  we in Sri Lanka have gone through 30 years of bloody conflict that left no real winners. People from all sides lost. The poems look at what happened and speak in many voices. They discuss a variety of issues and viewpoints. I wrote it because I wanted to create a collection of voices for those in the future to understand, as well as anyone else to realize the futility of war. It’s like a documentation of what happened in verse form.

Chant of a Million Women - Shirani Rajapakse

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I don’t have particular favorites because I think all the characters are special and they serve a purpose in helping me tell my story.

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I write both poetry and short stories. My poetry is free verse and the short stories are mostly literary fiction. I’ve also written a few stories that are fantasy or magic realism as well as a couple of children’s stories. Apart from the children’s stories the others are published in literary journals and anthologies but I don’t have enough to have a complete collection. I think it would be nice to have a complete collection of fantasy stories and also of children’s stories, but for this I need to write.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I’m mostly a seat of the pants writer, but I do plan a little. When I get an idea to write something I make a rough draft in my head. I let the sequence of the story or poem play in my mind like a movie and when I feel it is possible to sustain the story I start writing it down. But I don’t plan how the story evolves. That happens while writing.

What is your best marketing tip?

Marketing is the hardest aspect of writing and publishing. Moreover poetry and short stories are not easy to sell as there is a limited market compared to some of the popular genres. I prefer to get exposure for the book through reviews, interviews and word of mouth. 

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? 

I think it’s a huge benefit because it connects us to writers and readers around the world not merely to promote our writing but also to discuss writing get help and advice and find like- minded people. I decided to self-publish because I found many writers doing this and I felt encouraged. I also learnt everything about self-publishing through other writers who were on the same journey as I am and it’s amazing how many people I’ve come to know through social media.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS 

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I don’t know if there’s any particular aspect about writing that I like more than others. I just like to write. It’s like being able to direct my thoughts onto a blank canvas and create something beautiful out of the jumble of ideas and words that are there. Writing poetry or fiction is hugely liberating as I can express what I want or write about something that may not be possible to do as a fact.  It’s like painting, but with words.

Breaking News - Shirani Rajapakse

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I wrote my first poems and short stories when I was in university as an undergraduate student. These were experimental works and I never planned on publishing them.  There was a short period after my post grad study in India where I was doing nothing and I wrote some stories and poem that were better than the ones I wrote earlier. But it was really much later that I started to write seriously and this is where the bulk of my work is from.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

It has stayed the same for the most part, but I’ve dabbled in other genre, like fantasy. I’ve also written a couple of short stories for children but these aren’t published.

What genre are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading contemporary romance. Sometimes reading outside the genre I write can be more relaxing.

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both. Right now I’m reading for pleasure.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My lecturer from undergrad study Dr. Lakshmi de Silva was someone who encouraged me to write even when I didn’t know I wanted to write. Through the years she has been a huge supporter of my writing and I tend to discuss my work with her. She is also the only person who first sees my writing before I send it to anyone else.

Where is your favorite writing space?

In front of my computer. It’s a mess with papers and books all over the table but that’s where I write.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

I belong to several writing groups on Facebook where we help each other with advice about writing and publishing.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

Alice Munro and Carolyn Forche. I like the way they write and it would be nice to just talk to them about writing.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Right here where I am as this is the place I’m most comfortable. But if I could travel to anywhere in the world then the list would be endless. I think travel opens up your mind and give you opportunities to learn and experience diversity in all forms and this is good not just for writing but in general too. I’d like to visit several places, like Russia, China and some parts of the US like Colorado or Alaska and spend some time there, maybe a few weeks just taking in everything. But I wouldn’t want to move anywhere.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. It already is.

Bio

Shirani Rajapakse is an internationally published, award winning poet and short story writer. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013 and was a finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013. Her collection of short stories Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Her critically acclaimed poetry collection Chant of a Million Women (2017) won the 2018 Kindle Book Awards. It was chosen as an “Official Selection” in the 2018 New Apple Summer eBook Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing and received an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite Awards. Her second collection of short stories, I Exist. Therefore I Am (2018) is about women in modern India. Rajapakse’s work appears in many literary journals and anthologies worldwide. Rajapakse read for a BA in English Literature from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and has a MA in International Relations from JNU, India.

shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com

 

Author Interview – Yvonne Rediger

January 22, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

Yvonne Rediger

What inspired your latest novel?

Death and Cupcakes is a combination of cozy mystery, with a touch of romance, humour and yep, baking.                                        

How did you come up with the title?

Death and Cupcakes just came to me when I was writing Jane Westcott’s background.

Death and Cupcakes

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, don’t wait for happiness to come to you. No one is going to give it to you, so take charge of your life, and find it. And, don’t let your past haunt you.

How much of the book is realistic?

There really is a Musgrave Landing on Salt Spring Island. However, the place only has a handful of homes and a boat dock, but no ferry. The geography is correct, and we do have many small towns and villages serviced by ferries which also have a cafe located close to the wharf.

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, my characters are made up, although I will use a name from a friend or family member. In this novel, the female RCMP officer in Death and Cupcakes is a composite of several officers I’ve met in Duncan, at Coffee with a Cop and my great aunt, who passed away a short while ago. Auntie Lea rode a Honda Gold Wing, could handle a snow machine. She ran the farm, raised a family, and had a big heart. I always told her I wanted to grow up to be just like her.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I have a Facebook Author and website, and am active on social media.

Website: http:/www.yvonnerediger.com

Facebook Page: Yvonne Rediger – Author

Twitter: @blackyvy, Instagram: @blackyvy50

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

Certainly, Death and Cupcakes is book one of the Musgrave Landing Mysteries. Book two is my work in progress, Fun with Funerals.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

Arlie Birch is my favorite character in this novel. He is over sixty-five and says and does exactly as he pleases, so he adds humor to the book. He also has a heart of gold.

hell cat
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I write another series, VIC Shapeshifters, Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance set on Vancouver Island. These books also have a mystery element as well as magic and romance. Hell Cat is book two of this series and was just released in December too, just after Death and Cupcakes. It starts out in Edmonton and ends up on Vancouver Island.

Trusting the Wolf, book three is set to release in summer of 2019.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I am a planner/pantser. Once I have the outline completed and broken down into the chapters, I am off and running. Sometimes a better idea will come along and I will go back to the beginning of the novel to incorporate it.

What is your best marketing tip?

Youtube book trailers. I made one for each new book which was released in December.

Hell Cat – https://youtu.be/EDjWI5i-UTw

Death and Cupcakes – https://youtu.be/CRPWtaso8ac

Not only were these fun to create, but now I have a succinct method of sharing the gist of the stories on different platforms.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

Social media can be both. I don’t blog more than once or twice a month. I don’t seem to find the time. Snippets from the books, release dates, and fun stuff are found mostly on my Facebook Author page.

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The puzzle solving. Characters and plot, making all the pieces fit together.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?

I wrote my first fan fiction short stories when I was eleven. Star Trek was a favourite.

Has your genre changed or stayed the same?

I keep adding new ones. I started writing romance, then paranormal and urban fantasy. Later, romantic suspense and now cozy mysteries.

What genre are you currently reading?

Tanya Huff, A Peace Divided

Do you read for pleasure or research or both?

Both, I love learning new things, especially history or the origin of a subject. If it’s wrapped in a good story, all the better.

Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?

My biggest supporters are my husband and children and their spouses. My daughter, her husband, and my son have provided background detail in a number of books with regard to their expertise. My daughter-in-law actually painted the cover for Hell Cat. My sister is the creator of the cozy art in the book trailers. The rest of my family is always supportive too.

As for mentors, I have many wonderful people in my writing and author groups who are generous with their time and advice. I’ve also learned a lot from some great editors.

Where is your favorite writing space?

In winter, I have a wicker rocking chair and ottoman in the dining room facing a big window which overlooks the mountains. In summer, my backyard patio is my favourite.

Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?

Yes, VIRA on Vancouver Island, we have over sixty members and meet monthly. Each September we put on a full day workshop with an invited facilitator. We’ve had Shannon Mayer, Susan Wiggs, this year, Eileen Cook. I am also a member of several groups on Facebook. I also help out at the Cowichan Valley Writers, for new writers, by sharing my experience and teach a workshop or two.

If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?

Linwood Barclay, I love his sense of humor. I’ve used GoodReads Ask the Author, to ask him questions and permission to use his name in Death and Cupcakes. He agreed and was very supportive.

If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?

Right where I am.

Do you see writing as a career?

I’ve been full time at it since 2015, written six books in that time. Four are published, two more coming this year.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Nope, even my coffee gets cold when I’m writing. Now when I’m editing, that is a whole other thing. Cookies, I am a sucker for homemade cookies.

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?

Dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants, like The Shipyard, Friday night, because there is live music and dancing after dinner.

Thank you for having guest on your blog Mandy!

More books from Yvonne.

 

Author Interview – Kathie Sutherland

October 26, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

Words in the Park 2017 by G Sheard

1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? It depends on the project and on my readiness to tackle the subject. To be open and vulnerable in my poetry and life writing requires risk and that frightens me sometimes. On the other hand, my best work helps me let go of my fears.
2. What is your writing Kryptonite? Family crises, mood swings and poor self-discipline.

Balancing
3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? No, but now that you mention it, it might be freeing.
4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? Writers Foundation of Strathcona County are encouraging, accepting and creative.
5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? All of my writing is focused on writing as a tool for personal growth.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Too many! Poetry (Pipers Dream); Family history and memoir (Home and Away); Novel (Mile Zero); Nonfiction (Writing with Inner Child; Diving the Sea of Emotion; Process of Perspective).
7. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Research is one of my favourite activities because it reflects my love of learning. Non-fiction and fiction – reading on the subject. Google on specific aspects. Symbolism.

ShadowGirls
8. How many hours a day/week do you write? Not enough. I’m aiming for 2 hours every morning. I am very inconsistent and that is something I am trying to correct.
9. How do you select the names of your characters? Usually some symbolic aspect of their personality. For example, in my novel the main character Claire is becoming more enlightened.
10. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? Personal writing is self-expressive and spiritual. Poetry is symbolic. All my writing is aimed at finding life’s depth, meaning and purpose.

What-We-Keep
11. How long have you been writing? Poetry since 1974 and life writing for at least 30 years.
12. What inspires you? Nature. People. Mindfulness. Life events. New ideas. New insight.
13. What projects are you working on at the present? Blogs. I’ve neglected my website for the past few months so I want to update and add new ideas. Final edits to my book of fairy tales, which is coming soon! It is called “Life is Not a Fairy Tale” and will be released by Dream Write Publishing before Christmas.
14. Share a link to your author website. http://kathiesutherland.com/

blog

Bio:

Kathie Sutherland is the author of Things We Keep, a memoir in essay form, and a self-published author of several poetry books:  balancing Act; Shadow Girls in the Spotlight; Wind in the Trees; and Seeking Asylum. She is presently completing final edits on a collection of Fairy Tales, and has several large writing projects in the works including a “self-help” book and two life writing workbooks.

Kathie is a well-traveled and observant student of life with 30 years of writing experience. In the past, she has facilitated journal writing workshops. Currently, she acts as a Story Listener for elderly Lodge residents as they share life stories and she facilitates a reminiscence group there.

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – Bizarro Fiction

July 9, 2018
mandyevebarnett


bizarro

Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which aims to be both strange and entertaining,  containing hefty doses of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque  along with pop-surrealism and genre-fiction staples, thus creating subversive, weird, and entertaining works. The term was adopted in 2005 by the independent publishing companies Eraserhead Press, Raw Dog Screaming Perss and Afterbirth Books.

The first Bizarro Starter Kit described Bizarro as “literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store” and a genre that “strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.”

In general however, Bizarro has more in common with speculative fiction, such as science-fiction, horror and fantasy than with avant-garde movements (such as Dadaism and surrealism, which readers and critics often associate it with.

It seems to be a small niche genre and one that appeals to a select audience. However, I think it would be a fun exercise to write a story in this genre.

How about you? Have you written this genre? Or read any books in it?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writing Prompt

May 9, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Apologies – I forgot to schedule this post.

The prompt today is ‘ a glimpse out of a window’. What do you see?

window

Here’s my effort.

It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.
Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window. Instinct makes her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.
“Hello, who are you?”
The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.
“Come follow – you will find.”
“Find what, where are we going?”
Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms. The dark lady stops in the centre of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.
“Write its story, Janice and release me.”
“Release you – I don’t understand?”
“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”
“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”
“You know my story it is deep within you.”
Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk, puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?
A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.
Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.
During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.
Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.
Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and reveled in the adulation.
As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.
The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.

Why not share yours in the comments?

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