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Author Interview – Shirani Rajapakse

June 25, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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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

 

Manaswita Ghosh Interview…

August 22, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Vanquish – definition: to conquer or subdue by superior force; to overcome or over power

Please welcome Manaswita Ghosh – a poet and story teller, who has conquered, with the help of her Elephant God, publishing for her work and now assists others.

Manaswita

What do you enjoy most about writing?I enjoy the fact that I can play with words. Writing helps me pen my feelings, and the things my lips can’t frame, my intricate experiences with life and its challenges.

What age did you start writing stories/poems?I was eleven; to be precise. I was in 6th grade, and was bored at the new school I had joined. And as I was doodling around on my notebook, I wrote a poem. And that was just the beginning. In fact, now, after eleven years, what’s even more fascinating is that my very first book is a poetry collection which is due for publication this year.

 Has your genre changed or stayed the same?I love to experiment. Writing is fun and one should never confine them to a specific genre. You should explore, experiment, and learn. That’s what writing is all about. I write poems, short stories, creative/analytical articles and now I am working on three books – A short story collection for children, a Young Adult Fiction, and my second book of poetry.

What genre are you currently reading?I am not very specific about genre. I pick up any good book I find. In the recent months however, I have been very fascinated to discover the Islamic world, their rules and way of life. I read ‘Girls of Riyadh’ by Rajaa Alsanea last month, and now I am reading ‘The Convert’ by Deborah Baker and ‘Dear Prophet’ by Ali Ansari. These books are worth a read.

 Do you read for pleasure or research or both?I read for both pleasure and research. To be a good writer, you need to be a prolific reader. And yes, you should read anything that appeals to you, fascinates you and makes you give it a thought.

 Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?Every single person I have met/known has contributed in my making. My parents, my best friends – Ron, Akanksha and Santy, my publisher at Bombadil Publishing, UK, they have all been a great source of support and inspiration for me. They have helped me all through my writing aspirations and my entrepreneurial venture – Walkin Wordz. I started my company this year, which is basically a content writing and editing firm.

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?There is a character that I love, and he is yet to be shaped. I dreamed of him once, and it was beautiful. That guy carries magic in his pockets. He is warm, caring and strong. I hope I can pen him just the way I dreamed him. Strangely, I don’t know his name.

Ganesha

 Where is your favorite writing space?My writing desk comprises of my laptop and my diary, which has a complete record of my ideas and story lines and my idol of Ganesha (Elephant God, who is the symbol of wisdom). I stick to it every time I am up for writing. Else, I carry my laptop around and just sit wherever feels best in the house.

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?Depends. I don’t go looking for stories; instead, I like to observe people. Everyone has a story; all you need to do is find the right one to frame into a story.

 What inspires your ideas/stories?Random people inspire me. An anonymous girl busy with her books, a beggar looking at passersby hopefully, a little boy throwing tantrums. An Indian bride in her wedding attire, ready to be married; everyone has a story.

 Do you belong to a writing group? If so, which one? Officially, no, I don’t belong to any writers’ group.

Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?

I have been published by Penguin Books India in the anthology ‘Love Stories That Touched My Heart’ with my short story ‘A Pair of Shoes’.

Love Stories

http://www.amazon.ca/Love-Stories-That-Touched-Heart/dp/0143419641

The book was released in December, 2012. You can find it on Amazon, Flipkart, Homeshop18, and perhaps some more. The eBook Single of my story has been published as well. You can find it on Amazon.

 

 

 

Two of my poems were published in a poetry collection called ‘Convergence – A Global Poetry Collection’ which features 80 poets all across the globe. This book is available on Amazon as well.

Convergence

http://www.amazon.com/Convergence-A-Global-Collection-Poetry/dp/1482702258

My poetry collection, which comprised of 46 of my poems is all set for publication this year by Bombadil Publishing House, UK.

 If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? J.K.Rowling. I think she is a writer’s (not to mention a reader’s) dream. She inspires me, and she is the reason I ventured into writing. Her ability to imagine, conjure up such great plots, perfect and mature emotions, her characters and their stories, everything fascinates me.

Where can readers find you and your blog?

Readers can find me on twitter https://twitter.com/ManaswitaGhosh, and my blog – http://expressingmone.blogspot.in/.

You can reach my company at – http://walkinwordz.in/.   walkingwords

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? I am currently working on three books. My second book of poetry which is halfway done (The first being all set for publication), a Young Adult Fiction based on a real life story and a Children’s book that comprises of thirty short stories.

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