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Interview on Mandy Eve-Barnett’s Official Blog – June 25, 2019

My interview is up on Mandy’s blog. check it out here, or read below.

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

 

 

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Featured

Pendle War Poetry – 2018 Anthology

Rush Hour, the poem submitted to the Pendle War Poetry Competition, in the adult overseas category, may not have won the competition, but it was selected from the long list to be included in the anthology.

OVERSEAS ADULT POEMS INCLUDED IN 2018 ANTHOLOGY:

Sister Bullwinkle – Paula Miles, Australia
Those Boys – Teresa Hall, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.
Cesspool Your Name is War – Faleeha Hassan, New Jersey, USA
Indo-Pak Border – FABIYAS M V – KERALA STATE, INDIA
No Doctor To Cry – Jerusha Hackworth – New South Wales, Australia
Far Back In The Dark – Ogunlade John Oluwaseyi, Lagos, Nigeria
Hiroshima n Nagasaki – Seventy+ Years Since 1945 – Matthew Harris – Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA
MOTHER EARTH – Cecilia Mallon – Ontario, Canada
WHEN DID WE LAST LIVE? – Yamberzal – Bahrain
Shell Shock Parasite – Gregory Fino, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Bantering with the Dead Soul – Harshita Lall – Dallas, Texas, USA
SYRIAN DESERT– 2015 – Kevin Le Merle – Paris, France.
Memorials – John Seriot – Aurland, Norway.
HEADSPACE – Emily Dentler – Bad Homburg, Germany
Battle of Bloodriver – Jandrie van Staden ,Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Never Again – Heather McNair – Auckland, New Zealand
BALLAD OF DEMOKRATIA – Pukhraj Neogi – Lucknow, U. P., India
AMBER – Stephen J. Cribari, Minnesota, USA
“Napalm Girl” with Boy – Frank Joussen – Germany
THE CRY OF WOMEN – Temani Nkalolang – Gaborone, Botswana
An Unknown Soldier? – Paul Barrett – Mystic Park, Victoria, Australia
SPLASH AND SILENCE – Kofie Jerry Atta – Ghana
The Silent VC – Jamie Pinnock – Colgne, Germany
HMS REPULSE & HMS PRINCE OF WALESJeremy Gadd – Sydney, Australia
Barrow – Julian Aiken – Connecticut, USA
The Martyr’s Shrine – Swati Jha – Pune, India
WAITING – Frank Murdoch, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
Lament for Aleppo – Anne Casey – Northbridge, NSW, Australia
Dissociations Of Thirty Three Degrees – Marcelo Moreira – Salvador, Brazil
To Survive Soul – Milos Simic – Kragujevac, Republic of Serbia
”The trajectory of fingerprints in blood” – Cristiane Vieira de Farias – São Paulo, Brazil
Rot – Rhiannon Brönnimann – Brussels, Belgium
Where in Hell is God Now? – Henry Spencer – Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
The Theatre Of War – D.P.G. Sheridan – Gdansk, Poland
a soldier’s legacy – Nico Volkerts – Texel, Netherlands
Breaking Glass – Richard W. Halperin – Paris, France
THE SANDS OF TIME – Dave Pugh – Burgundy, France
Channel One – Richard Hookway – Banpong, Thailand
War is but an Engagement where Good People die… – Clint Hirschfield – Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. USA
Rush Hour – Shirani Rajapakse – Maharagama, Sri Lanka
Joy At The Front – Joyce Orsini – Leghorn, Tuscany, Italy

 

Featured

Second Edition of “Breaking News” out now

Breaking News was my first book that was published in 2011 by Vijitha Yapa Publications, a small book publisher in Sri Lanka. The book was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award in 2010 in MS.

There’s an ebook as well.

The theme of this collection is about living under the shadow of conflict and looks at both the JVP insurrection of 87-89 as well as the long drawn out conflict between the Tamil terrorist LTTE and the rest of the country.

Thanks to Hayley Faye for the cover.

Here’s the blurb

“A young girl searches for a loved one. A mother grieves for her sons. A soldier wakes up with a missing limb. A woman reveals her true nature when she blows herself up. A young boy is traumatized by the loss of his baby sister. These nine stories take you through glimpses of two civil wars and what it’s like to live under the threat of terrorism. Yet all is not dreary; there are glimpses of humor and satire as life goes on amidst pain and suffering.”

 

 

 

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Semi-Finalist in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards

Chant of a Million Women is a semi-finalist in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards.

Or check out all the other categories.

 

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Readers’ Favorite Award certificate and listing on bookawards.com

 

The award certificate just came in. The books is also listed on bookaward.com, referred to as the site for Award Winning Books by Today’s Best Authors. The site is owned and created by Readers’ Favorite and includes only Readers’ Favorite authors.

 

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Readers’ Favorite Awards 2018 – It’s Honorable Mention for Chant of a Million Women

https://storage.googleapis.com/readersfavorite-public/images/honor-shiny-web.pngHonored and thrilled that Chant of a Million Women wins Honorable Mention in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite awards under poetry general category. Thanks to everyone who helped me get here.

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The Friday Influence – February 16, 2018

Jose Angel Araguz has featured Chant of a Million Women and my short essay on two of the poems in the collection. Check it out here.