Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Author interview with Shirani Rajapakse (revisited)


Back in February 2013, I interviewed author Shirani Rajapakse for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...

Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with fiction author and poet Shirani Rajapakse. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Shirani. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAShirani: Hi Morgen, I’m from Sri Lanka and I’ve been writing for about fifteen years although I only recently began publishing. I write poetry, short stories and drama. I used to work full time (been working in journalism, research and management / administration) but since 2011 I’ve become a full time writer.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Shirani: Most of my fiction falls into the genre of literary fiction and women’s fiction. I don’t really try to fit my writing into a particular genre but write because I have something I want to say in fiction. I don’t care much for horror, Sci-Fi or fantasy but I wouldn’t mind writing children’s fiction.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Breaking News CoverShirani: I’ve published a collection of short stories titled “Breaking News,” (Vijitha Yapa 2011) (http://vijithayapa.com/pdesc.php?id=25822) and a short story and several poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. I don’t write under a pseudonym but use my own name.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Shirani: My book isn’t available as an eBook at the moment. I don’t read eBooks either as I have problems downloading them. eBooks haven’t become as popular here in Sri Lanka. I prefer the print book. There’s something magical about holding a book in your hands, touching the paper and smelling it and knowing that you are in possession of a great piece of writing. Besides I tend to make notes when I read, a habit I developed when I was reading for my degree in English Literature.
Morgen: Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Shirani: I chose “Breaking News” as the title of the collection as there was already a story in the collection by that title. I thought it would be appropriate as it reflected the type of stories that were included in the collection. Also it was my first publication and I felt it was breaking news, as it were. The cover art was commissioned by the publisher and I did have a say in it. I believe that both the cover and title of the book is important and it helps to attract the attention of the reader.  Sometimes it works to the benefit but sometimes not. Everyone doesn’t have the same ideas and sometimes either tends to backfire. But as they say, even bad press is good. You need to take chances.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Shirani: I’m working on several writing projects as I call them. There’s a novel that needs to be edited and several short stories that need to be completed, and I’m always writing verse. This year has been a year for poetry as I have been thinking in verse.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Shirani: I make it a point to do something related to writing every day. When I’m not writing I’m editing my writing, so there’s always something going on.  Of course writer’s block does happen but I find that since I’m working on a variety of writing – poetry, short stories, novels – I can move from one to the other when writer’s block sets in on one.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Shirani: It’s both. I sometimes get an idea and I let it develop the way it does as I write. Sometimes I get an idea but I hang onto it for a while and let it take shape in my head. I then tend to plot the story as I think it should be, but mostly I let the idea write itself.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Shirani: Writing is very visual to me. I tend to see my stories before I write them. The story unfolds in my head like a movie. I write it down only if I can see it moving forward steadily. I think this is what makes it believable. If I can see it moving forward then so will the reader. The same goes with the characters. They have to be believable and well rounded. But I don’t sit down and say now this character will be bad, ugly and horrible while this one will be good. I just let the characters develop as the story develops. Sometimes I take a characteristic of some person I may have seen or know, like the way a person stares into the distance in a certain way that may be different from the way others do and turn this characteristic into the main feature of one of my characters. As for the names of characters, this is the most difficult as I don’t want to duplicate names I’ve already used and hunting for names becomes a problem.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Shirani: I don’t write down a story unless and until I feel the story has played itself out in my head and I’m satisfied with the way it moves forward. This also means that I tend to “write” the story. I think the first line of a story especially a short story is crucial to not only build the story but also to attract the attention of the reader. But it’s also important to make sure that the other sentences that follow the first line are also of the same standard and can keep the reader on the page. When I have written at least one third of the story in my head and have an idea about how the rest will be, that’s when I write it down, or type it into the computer. I find that this way there’s hardly any editing to do because the story is complete as it is being typed. But of course I tend to return to the story and edit it. There’s always something that can be changed, a word added, a word deleted, a sentence reconstructed, some dialogue added in between. There are many possibilities and I find that I keep editing until the very last minute even when the final proofs are in. My writing tends to improve as time goes. I think its natural and like everything else we do, writing too develops. I don’t write the same way I did ten fifteen years ago. My writing has changed; the style has changed as well as the way I approach a story. It’s inevitable as writing is also something that’s evolving.  A few months back while reading through some of my earlier short stories that’s I’d taken out to edit I wondered what the stories would be like if i re-wrote them in a different way. I read through one story took out the main points in it and sat down to rewrite. It looked very different as I approached the subject from a different angle. The original story started with a dialogue, a few sentences that set the stage, but in the second version I took out the dialogue and changed the beginning. And it worked just as well. In fact I liked the second version better.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research for your prose?
Shirani: The research depends on the story. Some stories don’t require much research while some do. It depends on the theme / type of story and what background information I wish to include.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Shirani: I write in both first and third person. Second person? No I’ve never tried that but now that you mention it I just might.
Morgen: Do you write any non-fiction or other style of writing?
Shirani: I write poetry, drama, short stories and novels. I’ve also dabbled in lyric writing but I don’t write essays or non-fiction.
Morgen: Concentrating on your poetry, do you write poetry to form or as it comes? If to form, what are your favourites? Are some easier than others?
Shirani: I prefer the freedom of free verse. I let the words flow onto the paper or in this case the computer and merely let my fingers be the instruments to deliver my words. Of course it’s not all about words on paper. The words have to mean something and there has to be a poetic quality about the writing.
Morgen: Do you generally write rhyming or free verse?
Shirani: I prefer free verse.
Morgen: What poetry have you had published to-date?
Shirani: My poetry has been published in, or is forthcoming from, Dove Tales, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, New Verse News, Occupy Wall Street, and anthologies such as Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, The Occupy Wall Street Anthology and Every Child is Entitled to Innocence. I’ve also got some on my website http://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com.
Morgen: Do you enter poetry competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Shirani: I’ve entered one competition so far. This was the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Competition.
Morgen: Do you go to poetry slams? If so, could you tell us how they work?
Shirani: I haven’t been to a poetry slam as yet. I’ve never heard of a poetry slam in Sri Lanka. It’s not caught on here.
Morgen: Do you deal with poetry publishers directly or do you have an editor / agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Shirani: I haven’t published poetry in book form – either as an ebook or traditional paperback. Most of my poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies and don’t really need an agent for this as you have to do the work yourself. I don’t know if an agent would be vital to publish a volume of poetry as I don’t think agents usually handle poetry. But I do think an editor would be helpful as a poetry editor will be able to look at the writing critically and evaluate the style and the format and see if it works.
Morgen: Do you think eBooks will change poetry? If so, how?
Shirani: There are more poets out there than fiction writers. That’s probably why it’s so difficult for new poets to break into the traditional publishing market. Epublishing is the obvious choice for poets wishing to get their work to as many people as possible. On the other hand some poets prefer to display their work in blogs and websites rather than eBooks. It’s difficult to predict the future of poetry in eBooks as there are more opportunities to promote and display ones work other than eBooks. I think the internet has changed poetry; it has opened out the world for poets giving them a global audience without having to do much work except write.
Morgen: What / who do you read?
Shirani: My all time favourite dead poets are – Keats, Frost and Dickinson. I also enjoy reading Gillian Clarke, Sharon Olds, Carol Ann Duffy as well as a few others but I don’t get to read them as often as I wish. I browse through poetry sites / magazines and read a lot. There’s far too many interesting names to mention here.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your poems or topic to write about?
Shirani: I don’t select topics to write poetry about. I write anything that comes to my head. If the occasion deems it fit and if the words flow easily then I write it. Much of the poetry that’s been published so far has tended to be somewhat political. I’m influenced by the socio-political trends and this is naturally reflected in my poetry. But I write about the beauty of nature and humourous situations etc as well. I also like writing to themes as this stretches the boundaries of creativity and makes you think.
Morgen: Presumably you choose the titles of your poems – do you get to keep them or are you ever overridden?
Shirani: I haven’t been asked to change the titles of my poems so far and I hope it stays this way. Some of my poems don’t have titles and though it would be nice to have a title I sometimes use the first line as a title or go without a title.
Morgen: Do you show / read your poems to anyone before you submit?
Shirani: No I don’t. If I think a poem is suitable for a particular magazine or anthology I submit it and let the editors decide if they like it or not or if it’s the kind of writing they are looking for. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t edit my work. I never submit work that I feel is incomplete or not up to standard. After all, it’s my work and my name attached to the poem and if it’s bad it reflects on my other writing as well. Therefore I’m very meticulous in my writing.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Shirani: I’m editing my collection of poems that I hope I’ll publish someday soon. Besides that I’m always writing something or the other. A word, a phrase, a photograph or an incident somewhere might set off an idea and words just flow.
Morgen: Why do you think poetry is such a difficult market to break into?
Shirani: Everyone is writing poetry. There’s a surplus of poets yet everyone has a different story to tell and writes in a different style. I think publishers are reluctant to publish poetry collections because some of them just don’t understand poetry. I can’t blame them as poetry is extremely personal and what might seem perfectly clear to me might appear bewildering to another person who doesn’t understand where I come from or what I’m trying to say.
Morgen: Are there any tips you could give to someone wishing to write poetry?
Shirani: I think one has to be honest with oneself as this shows in ones work. Writing poetry can be difficult at times as you have to find a rhythm to your writing. You can’t just take sentences and place them in a particular way to look like verse. It has to sound and feel like a verse rather than prose. Even prose poetry has a melody or musicality about it. It’s just not flat prose. Some poets tend to think that prose can masquerade as poetry and this is where they make a mistake.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing of your poems or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Shirani: The poems like the stories first get created inside my head and once they have developed I write them or type them down. Sometimes I can write a poem that is complete and fully-formed but at other times I need to go back and edit.
Morgen: I used to write a lot of 60-word stories and found the more I wrote the closer they came out to the word count. It’s obviously not a direct comparison but do you find your poems come out at similar lengths, or do they really vary.
Shirani: They tend to vary according to the subject matter. I’ve written poems that are three pages long and some that are four lines. It all depends on the topic and how you tend to deal with it. But at most times I think poetry is a single idea and the shorter the better, maybe around a 100 words.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research for your poetry?
Shirani: It depends. Some poems just flow through. But some like Two Cities Two Protests the poem I did for the Occupy Poetry Project required some research into what was really happening in order to be accurate.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of writing poetry?
Shirani: I like it when the words flow undisturbed as I can then get a poem that is complete and doesn’t require much effort. But when I get a couple of lines and then get a sort of block I tend to find it very difficult to complete it and have to put in a lot of effort. This is the tedious part of writing that I could do without. I had a very creative spell towards the end of 2007 where I was writing a poem or short story per day. This went on for over a month and I was able to create a couple of collections of short stories and enough poetry for a volume. It was mentally exhausting but also very fulfilling. It’s not happened since.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring poets?
Shirani: Read other poets and get a feel of what they have written and how they’ve written. The dead poets are always good as reference points but it’s also important to read modern poets. There are many good poets writing on the web and if you can’t buy poetry books then reading poetry on the web is just as good. Also try to develop your own style of writing without trying to follow or copy someone else as this will not work. You will only tire yourself trying to be someone else when you should be yourself. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Shirani: I have many pieces lying in dark spaces and I sometimes wonder if they will ever see the light of day. I’m hopeful though, that this won’t happen and they will all get some time in the sun.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Shirani: Oh lots of rejection all the time. I submit work to magazines and journals the year round and there are many rejections. At first I used to get upset and feel bad about it but then I realised it wasn’t really that my writing was bad but that the type of writing didn’t suit the viewpoint of the publication. I found that while one publication rejected a piece of writing another would happily accept it. It’s all about trying to cater to the viewpoint of the publication and also that of the editor.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Shirani: Yes I like to enter competitions. I haven’t entered that many since I only started “coming out” as a writer recently but I’d recommend the Commonwealth Short Story Competition, the Frank O’Conner International Short Story Competition and there are lots for poetry.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Shirani: No I don’t have an agent and I don’t know if an agent is vital to an author’s success. Agents tend to look for books that sell rather than the long term relationship with an author and helping to build an author. They tend to focus on the immediate financial gains rather than the long term ones and thereby tend to miss out on a lot of talent. There’s a lot of great writing done by unknown authors but they aren’t visible. At the same time there are authors that gain popularity with just one book but don’t do anything else. Sadly publishers too are focusing more on the agents opinions and do not read books and make an opinion on their own anymore. Having worked on my own I think it’s possible to exist without an agent. But it’s hard especially if you come from a small country like Sri Lanka. Besides agents only promote books they don’t promote your writing in magazine, journals or anthologies. That’s something you have to do yourself. Right now I’m doing a lot of writing - poetry and short stories – for magazines and anthologies.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Shirani: With Breaking News, I sent out copies to people for reviews and posted the pitch for the book on various websites that promote books. I also did interviews about the book and myself as a writer. I believe that marketing is important but it’s hard for writers to market /publicise their books on their own.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Shirani: I enjoy the freedom to write and I enjoy being able to write on a variety of topics and different genre. As for the least favourite aspect, I think it’s the whole process of getting published. I guess that’s why one needs an agent. But for the type of writing I do – publishing in magazines and anthologies I don’t think an agent does that kind of work. I have to do it myself.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Shirani: “Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.” This was from the movie Finding Forrester. I think this is so true. I would also like to tell other writers that they should not take rejection as an indication that the writing is bad because it’s not. Just dust yourself up and try again.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Shirani: That’s an interesting one. I’d probably like to have Jane Austen, Orhan Pamuk and Gillian Clarke but if one of them can’t make it I’d keep Emily Bronte in reserve. Being a vegetarian I’d probably cook something fusion and have a variety - maybe a rice dish, two salads, and several curries as well as a chocolate mousse. But I don’t know how to make a mousse so I’ll probably settle for chocolate gateau with mango.
Morgen: If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Shirani: I live in the present and I like to anticipate what might happen in the future. What happened in the past is gone and re-living it is just going back to reminisce. I’d rather use the opportunity to look to the future and make every day I live as memorable as I can.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Shirani: I recently say this quote from W Somerset Maugham on a website and thought it was quite interesting. It went like this: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Shirani: I am a member of the English Writers Cooperative of Sri Lanka which is a writers group. I was involved with an online writing group for some time but not anymore.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Shirani: I listen to music, read, chat online and spent time with my two dogs (they take up a LOT of time).
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Shirani: I would recommend some sites maintained by people that review books. These are great as you get to read about what other people think about various books. It’s also good because you get an idea about writing that helps in your own writing. Basso Profundo http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com
the Write Edge http://thewriteedge.wordpress.com have some interesting reviews. The Write Edge also has some tips on writing and other features. I would also recommend people read interviews of other writers to find out what is being written about and I’d recommend this site as well as Sylvia Ramsey’s Thoughtful Reflections http://wwwthouhtfulreflections.blogspot.com.
Writania http://writania.com/ is also a site I recently came across that provides tips on how to write. It’s a good site for anyone trying to fine tune their manuscripts.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Shirani: I’m on Linked In and Facebook. Linked In is informative but it’s tedious as you have to wade through everyone’s conversation to get to your ones or discussions you have started. It’s very time consuming but you do find gems hidden away inside. It’s just a process to find them. I prefer Facebook as you can see everything on the page as you enter your page. You don’t have to scroll down every conversation to find out if anyone has responded to your comments. Facebook is also great as I get updates from various groups/sites about what’s happening in the world of writing as well as other news stories.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Shirani: That’s a tough one. I think it depends on the individual writer rather than on writers in general. If a writer can continue to produce work that is consistently of a high quality then I think that writer has a future whether it is in epublishing or traditional paper publishing. It’s all about winning readers and keeping them interested in one’s work and of course having the ability to constantly produce good writing. There’s nothing to beat good writing. You can’t mass produce it or have a formula, you have to create something new every time.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Shirani: I have a blog at Wordpress that I use as a blog, website and storage space. I don’t blog that much as I tend to be rather lazy but I do occasionally blog about topics/causes I feel strongly about. And I’ve posted some poems there.  You can visit me at  http://shiranirajapakse.wordpress.com or connect on Facebook. You can also check out my writing at www.youwriteon.com and www.authonomy.com as well as www.theredroom.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Shirani: Thanks for having me on your blog interview. It’s been great “chatting” with you and I hope you have success with your writing project too.
Morgen: You’re very welcome. Thank you, Shirani.
I then invited Shirani to include an example of her writing and here follows two short excerpts from two stories in Breaking News. The first is from Emerald Silk and the other is from Man from the East
“She watched the green leaves on the branch outside the window turn dark against the drops of water that soaked into them, wiping the leaves clean from the turbulence of the mundane dust that endeavoured to cloak them from the sun. The water washed away the years of dust that perched on the leaves, falling in droplets against other leaves washing them too and finally collected in their own engineered droplets against the soft, damp earth below. The leaves turned dark and clean and sparkled like the emerald silk dress she wore two months ago when he left; the day he walked out after their words, banging the door shut in annoyance to her response; the day she left him and that cold, unfeeling prison never to return again although she did not tell him this at that time. Do not tell this to him even now as she sat watching the water on the leaves outside falling, falling, washing, washing leaf by leaf. The leaves clean in their original splendour reminded her of herself on that night they parted. Her mind drifted back to words spoken, phrases recanted, yet her mind didn’t react to thoughts of the past. It was too numb. Or was it just the shock of realization that numbed?” (Emerald Silk)
*
“Every time Aruni left the house she would take a good look at every man she saw. Was he the one? She asked herself every time, and each time she answered it immediately with an emphatic no. Where would we meet she wondered. Would it be someone I know or a complete stranger? Would he come home or should I have to find him someplace else? These were the thoughts running through her mind. She was surprised that she had become so obsessed with the idea of a man who would come from a particular direction and sweep her off her feet. Or would he merely ask her? After all, the sweeping part was reserved only for characters in fairy tales. And she was no character in a fairy tale.”  (Man from the East)
**
a synopsis of her prose…
Breaking News is a collection of nine short stories. It is of mixed genre. Four of the stories fall into the “living under the threat of terrorism” genre or category. The Sri Lankan government was locked in a war against terrorism for 30 years and most of the time people lived in fear of being attacked. It was like living in a 9/11 scenario for 30 years. The four stories set in different parts of the country portray the lives of people in various social milieus and ethnic background depicts life during these turbulent times. The other stories are light and humorous stories about the strange and crazy things people sometimes get into. Six of the stories are told from the woman’s perspective or have women as central characters.
***
And examples of her poetry... this first poem was published in the Occupy Poetry Project 2011.
Two Cities Two Protests
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The police have taken over, a law unto
themselves while sanity flies out to
be trampled in the dust of protest
worldwide. Across cultures and fault lines.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The people want more. The freedom to
live the life they choose. Jobs and money.
Freedom from servitude to the few. They rise
Up as one, the time has come.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The students protest in line. Sitting silently
with heads bowed low as the symbol of law
stands before them spraying pepper in their
faces. Laughing silently at their discomfort.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The people clash with black-clad police.
The dreaded symbol of Mubarak’s regime that
remains to protect another regime. The Generals
who now rule. What was won in February?
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The media clicks for posterity while the
students remain silent watching, waiting
for the law to do their deed as the men
in high towers look the other way.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
They shoot at their heads. A bullet
enters his eye. That’s the last he will
see. They pull him away bleeding and
the police move in for the kill.
Pepper spray for Wall Street
Rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
When will the madness end? Freedom
to protest in peace is no longer guaranteed
anywhere. The constitution is laughed at,
trampled upon by those elected to save it.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
The police rule. The politicians rule, hunger
for power rises. More power. But at what cost?
The masses stand up but are beaten down.
Democracy died this weekend.
Pepper spray for Wall Street,
rubber bullets for Tahrir Square.
****
December as I Remember
Early morning one lazy
day when the sun had not yet woken up
to warm the world Poseidon bounced out of his
dwelling, deep inside
the bosom of the sea, many
fathoms below the surface in a kingdom
he ruled. He stretched
and yawned the night’s sleep away
then came up to catch
a glimpse of sunshine.
He looked around. The boats
bobbed nonchalantly, little specks of bright colours
like flowers strewn on the blue waters.
The tall coconut trees swaying
in the breeze bending, bending to touch
the waves as they crawled to shore. Fish darted
through the waves
in a game of catch me if you can. People
lazed on the beach and
homes after a heavy Christmas feast.
Poseidon stood still
surveying it all. His supporters
accompanied him on his travels to the top
like some local politician who never
moved a finger
without a retinue of several dozen.
They came up all at once
and spread out wide romping with glee
at their unexpected treat, a shopping spree to the
world on earth,
but what that trip cost us that day
cannot ever be measured.
They moved forward fast
and furious running ashore quicker than the lazy
waves taking, taking
everything they saw with no care for those
they met. Homes ransacked, lives
dashed against walls, children
stolen from parents, the old
and aged thrown
on the floors no use to
anyone anymore. Furniture picked up
and sent off to sea, trees uprooted to be planted
down below
in the kingdom
of the waves. A train lifted up to the skies
people and all, busses and cars
charting a new route to sea. The coconut trees gasped
as the waters reached up higher and higher
covering all around
in a watery haze. The sun peeped
out then
hid her face in fear. What was he doing
the great God of the sea? Time up, he returned home
with his followers to share the treats while
the birds flew around chirping a
dirge to their friends.
*****
Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet, playwright and author. Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011), a collection of short stories that was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s writing has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Dove Tales, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking PoetNew Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies such as Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence.  Her poetry has also been featured on the radio program Verses in Motion.
Shirani has a BA in English Literature from the University of Kelaniya Sri Lanka and a MA in International Relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. She worked at the Sunday Times and Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka and in international organizations including the World Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to the main blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books (including my debut novel, which is serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at the main blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and leaving a comment - we are all very grateful.