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“Fallen Leaves” out now

Fallen Leaves my latest poetry collection is out now in paperback. You can get it at Amazon. The ebook will follow shortly.

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Description

Rajapakse uses poetry to look at the conflict that raged in the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka for close to three decades. People from all walks of life, ethnic, religious and age groups suffered. The Tamil terrorists disrupted life and property all over the country for three decades, while for a few years in the late 1980s a Marxist guerilla group caused chaos. The JVP was wiped out in a few years. The Tamil terrorists however took much longer.

These poems are a reflection of the time. They take on voices of people from across the divide and speak of the incredible loss the people all suffered.

They are dark yet thought provoking. They speak of a moment in history when people lived amidst a sense of helplessness and fear of terror.
It is dedicated to “all those we lost along the way.”
Blurb

She tried to recall the

day he walked out, the day she

last saw him and the exact moment

she heard his voice on the phone assuring her

all was well. And then

 

no more.

 

What happened? What went wrong?

She would never know. There was no

one left to respond, and those that were there

didn’t dare speak up as the reasons for

what took place didn’t make sense

so they kept quiet and hoped in time

she would understand.

 

Introduction

For close to thirty years the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka was embroiled in conflict.

In the early 1980s the Tamil terrorists – the LTTE – took to war to demand a separate homeland in the north of the country, despite a considerable number of Tamils living in the south. They began intensifying their demands by causing damage in all parts of the country. LTTE women suicide bombers blew themselves up in crowded public places in the mainly Sinhala dominated south, while explosive packed trucks rammed into building destroying lives and infrastructure.  As a response to and protest against the LTTE, the Marxist JVP guerillas created unrest in the south. People who didn’t listen to the JVPs diktats were kidnapped or killed. Those suspected of being JVP members were hauled off by the armed forces and taken in for questioning. No one was safe. Everyday brought fresh news of death or disappearance while bodies burnt on the sides of roads.

The government responded by hounding the JVP and ending their reign of terror within a few years. But not before thousands of young men and women were sacrificed. The LTTE, however, could not be eliminated so easily. They continued to wage war for close to three decades. Attacks on civilians took place so regularly that violence became more common than peace.

And where there was conflict there was devastation. People’s lives changed so drastically that no one ever though they would live to see a day when they could walk the streets unafraid. But that day finally did become a reality in 2009 when the LTTE’s guns were silenced, although it was at a cost to all citizens.

Fallen Leaves is both a look at the past years and a tribute to those fallen heroes, friends and family that never made it. They take on the voices of people from across the divide and speak of the incredible loss everyone suffered. It is also a reminder that guns don’t solve problems, but creates more hardships for everyone.

Part I focuses on the JVP years while Part II looks at the LTTE conflict.

 

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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

 

 

Featured

Writing in a Woman’s Voice – November 27, 2018

No One Wants to Know, a poem from Chant of a Million Women was featured in Writing in a Woman’s Voice.

Writing In A Woman’s Voice

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

No One Wants to Know

by Shirani Rajapakse

It was only much later,

when the world had gone to sleep and

awoken many times, that they found out.

By then it was far too late.

People had moved on. Old news was of no use,

they yawned as they picked up the papers

delivered that morning to read the news

crisp and new. Someone lost a cat,

someone broke into a home.

No laws were needed for any of that, no urgent

appeals, that could wait.

But she was only five years old.

They are all silent, those people in high places.

They’ve run out of words, catch phrases they

threw out to the women in jest.

Wrong clothes, out in the dark alone

with a strange man. Of course they deserved it,

those stupid women, they said laughing

behind closed doors.

And now they are scratching their balls and

trying to come up with reasons where

reasons never existed for any of this.

But it’s too late.

Too late for her, the little girl.

Too late for her sisters in other places.

Too late for the mothers whose

daughters died a slow painful death.

Too late, too late. But no one cares.

Not theirs to care.

* * * * *

© 2018 Shirani Rajapakse, “No One Wants to Know” is from the award winning collection Chant of a Million Women (2017) by Shirani Rajapakse

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 (self published 2017) is a Finalist in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards. It received an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite Awards and was chosen as an “Official Selection” in the 2018 New Apple Summer eBook Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Rajapakse’s work appears in many literary journals and anthologies around the world. 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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Finalist in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards

Chant of a Million Women is a finalist in the 2018 Kindle Book Awards. Check it out below or go to the official awards page.

2018 Award Winners

Official 2018 Kindle Book Awards

The 2018 Kindle Book Awards is Sponsored by…

2018 Kindle Book Awards2018 Kindle Book Awards

 

 

 

Congrats top-20 category Semi-finalists! Listed in no particular order.

Semi-finalists: Contact jeffbennington@ymail.com to claim your Semi-finalist badge.

Horror/Suspense (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Young Adult (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Romance (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Poetry (Finalists)

Mystery/Thriller (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Non-Fiction (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Literary Fiction (Finalists & Semifinalists)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Finalists & Semifinalists)

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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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DESIblitz – August, 3, 2018

Here’s a very interesting and thorough look at Chant of a Million Women by Daljinder Johal in DESIblitz. Or read it below.

 

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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.