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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

 

Lisa de Nikolits – An Interview…

July 28, 2015
mandyevebarnett


LisadN01smallerWhat is the title of your most recent book?Between The Cracks She Fell.

BTCSF_FrontCover

Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?

This is my fifth book – all my books have been published by Inanna and I love being one of their authors. They have such a commitment to giving voice to stories that unafraid to explore the tougher things in life.

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

Yes. I hope to show the complex interplay between real life and religion, to show what happens when our lives derail though no fault of our own and we are left to pick up the pieces. There are times in all of our lives when we feel terribly alone and abandoned by all that we put our trust into – I wanted readers to come on a journey with me and a young woman who falls between the cracks and has to make some difficult choices, some of which involve murder.

Hungry

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

Actually yes! The idea for the entire book came to me when I was talking to a new friend and I discovered that he had been disfellowshipped by the  Jehovah’s Witness church. His family, even his twin sister, swore never to see him again unless he repented and to this day (that was seven years ago), they have stayed true to their word.

I was very moved by this and I asked him if I could write about it, imagining his life, have him as my muse. He agreed and I have kept him in the loop of all the twists and turns of the book. None the book is reflective of his life, apart from that religious aspect.

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

Great question! I love my evil male villains. Hans in A Glittering Chaos, Rydell in The Witchdoctor’s Bones, Mickey in West of Wawa, and now, Lenny in Between The Cracks She Fell. Why? Because they are such enormous fun to write! I swear I might have multiple personality disorder because I really feel as if I have lived their fragile and evil lives. They are only secondary characters but I love them so much.

west of wawa

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I would change the beginning in The Witchdoctor’s Bones. I would start with more action and less narrative and dialogue introducing the characters.

Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Chocolate-covered peanuts! South African coffee called Ricoffy. Chocolate-covered pretzels are also good, along with rum-flavoured toffees!

What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I think the reward is having made the deadline! I’m usually so tired by that point that I fall into bed and crash!

Witchdoctor

Have you ever hated something you wrote? No. I do think I am improving as a writer though and for me, that’s the most important thing. But I would never hate anything I have written because it was written in a time when that was the best I could do. And I am always proud of myself for trying. So many people out there want to write but don’t (because yes, it’s hellishly hard), so I am always grateful to myself (and to the words) for trying to say something.

What book do you wish you had written? I wish I had written The Night Stages by Jane Urqhart.or Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Chaos

What genre is Between The Cracks She Fell? I am genre-less! But if pressed I’d say it is literary fiction with elements of crime and noir.

How do we find your books, blog and bio? All info here:

Bio and links:

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.

Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell will launch in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House. She will also have a short story coming out with the Mesdames of Mayhem, in the anthology, Thirteen o’Clock, also in Fall 2015.

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has also lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.

 Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell recently launched in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in Canada Woman Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015).

Links: 

www.lisadenikolitswriter.com 

twitter: @lisadenikolits

www.facebook.com/lisa.denikolits

http://www.goodreads.com

LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/1r8H9Df

 http://www.wattpad.com/user/LisadeNikolits

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