Probably the books which influenced me the most when creating 'Strange Fruit' were Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things' for its lush, beautiful language; Alex Garland's 'The Beach' for its depiction of modern day Asia and gripping story; the sheer, unabashed romanticism of Nicholas Spark's 'The Notebook'; Douglas Copeland's 'Girlfriend in a Coma' and Donna Tartt's 'The Secret History' for its depiction of close friendships and dark adventures.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I wanted to avoid the tired cliches of many Asian novels ; arranged marriages and class conflicts. All that stuff is so boring; there are a million stories out there which are much more interesting.
I wanted to show readers other sides of Sri Lanka that steered away from both the glossy tourist images as well as the images of the conflict: the more bohemian, magical parts of the country that I experienced when I was living there. I wanted to show the magic and the mystery of the island, but without sugar coating the brutal realities which lurk under the surface.
Finding those moments of magic and mystery; those moments for where there are no words which can adequately describe them- that's really what I think life is about.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like travelling, cooking, photography and taking naps.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
There's nothing better than browsing a good bookstore.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was quite bizarre. It was about an alien with a flyswatter.
What is your writing process?
People have referred to the book as cinematic , which I really like: I want people to feel like this is a movie in their mind. I love movies, and I wanted to capture the epic beauty of the country, as well as those moments of drama and tension.
Music is my other passion and a great inspiration for this work: it is woven throughout the book, providing a soundtrack . I wanted the book to have the rhythms of be-bop jazz, the lyricism of great rock music, the epic swell of orchestras.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Sri Lanka in 1973 and lived there til my early twenties.This book is set in the Nineties; I wanted to tell a story of a generation that grew up in the strange environment of a civil war; struggling to lead a normal life while dealing with the ever-present violence and criminalization of the country.
It didn't matter whether you were Tamil or Singhalese, Burgher or Muslim: sooner or later, the war affected everyone. And as current events are showing, that undercurrent of violence can flare up unexpectedly even when peace has been the norm for a while.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I tried to write a love story crossed with a thriller; something you can lie by the pool on vacation and devour in three days.
At one point, when I was writing the book, I had a post-it note stuck in the wall which said 'it's a love story stupid'. It was there to remind me that at it’s heart, this is a story of two people who are in love; and their struggles to stay together when the world conspires against them.
I feel very comfortable writing about love; my first book of poetry 'China Bay Blues' traced the arc of a relationship in very intimate, honest terms. I think everybody is looking for love in their life; that's why there is a never ending thirst for stories, movies, music that address it.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm a marketeer in my day job, so I think a lot about the power of imagery. The cover design for 'Strange Fruit' is supposed to be very intriguing and eye-catching ; hopefully it makes you want to pick up the book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like the Kindle for when I am travelling.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I think Squarespace has a great, intuitive web design - you can see what I did for my book by going to www.strangefruit.mobi
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