Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed K.C. Sprayberry’s character on March 3rd and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Devika Fernando, the author of Saved in Sri Lanka, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Sepalika, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Devika in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Sepalika!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Sepalika. Please have a seat.
Character Sepalika: Hello. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Sepalika: Of course.
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Sepalika: (Smiles.) I work as a tour guide in Sri Lanka, and I absolutely love my job. I get to watch people while they catch a glimpse of my country. It’s fascinating witnessing all the different reactions and creating little stories about them. I do think I’m good at my job because I add some fun and spice to routine.
Marie: That’s great! So, what is your family like?
Sepalika: (Frowns and sighs.) I wish you hadn’t asked. My father is suffering from chronic kidney disease. The doctors have only given him a few more months to live. As for my mother, she’s devastated…and worried about me. I don’t have any siblings, and I don’t really bond with any of our relatives.
Marie: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s try something else.
What did your childhood home look like?
Sepalika: I grew up in my mother’s ancestral home in a small village off Kandy amidst paddy fields, but we moved to Colombo when I was small, so after that it was modern city life for me. It was a huge change from the old, big house open to wilderness surrounding it, to the small, neat apartment surrounded by traffic and noise.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Sepalika: I love history and reading. Actually… (blushes.) I love dancing and singing too, but I hardly ever let that side of me out.
Marie: I love reading too!
So, what is your greatest dream, Sepalika?
Sepalika: I’d love to visit Australia one day.
Marie: Well, that’s certainly a worth goal! (Smiles.)
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Sepalika: I hate being such a coward. I wish I had the courage to stand up for my own happiness and really live life the way I want it. But that’s not easy if you live in Sri Lanka…and if you have a family to take care of.
Marie: I see. Yeah, obligations can often tear you away from what you want.
Okay, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Sepalika: I’ve never really been in love. I did have a huge crush on an English student when I went to university in London, but our relationship was doomed to fail. Now though, I think I’ve found the one… (Stares dreamily into the distance.)
Marie: Well, that’s great that you found someone new! I’m happy for you. I won’t beg you to tell me more, though I’m dying to know…(Laughs.)
So, Sepalika, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Sepalika: Finding out that my father has less than a year to live because of kidney failure. I’d give anything to save him.
Marie: How terrible! I’m sorry. I wish I could do something…😦
Well, let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Sepalika: I always wanted to see more of the world, and I’ve achieved that partly because I spent years studying in England. But I’m not sure I’ll ever get another chance to travel…
Marie: I see.
So, who is your role model?
Sepalika: All those great women in history who took life into their own hands and proved that they’re worth just as much as men, if not more.
Marie: I agree. How inspirational!
Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Sepalika: Erm, quite a lot of people, to tell you the truth. It’s the only way to stay sane in this society… There’s a certain Mrs. de Souza – no, I won’t say more, I’ll just get worked up.
Marie: All right. I’ll let you get away with being vague. (Winks.)
So, what is your deepest desire?
Sepalika: Finding someone who recognizes the real me and loves me for who I am.
Marie: Yes, I believe we all want that…
Let’s switch to another question. What is your greatest fear?
Sepalika: Living a loveless life full of pretense.
Marie: All right.
Well, I hate to say it, but we’ve run out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Sepalika. (Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Devika Fernando on the stage today. Hi, Devika!
Author Devika Fernando: Hi. Thank you so much for having the two of us over, Marie! 🙂
Marie: My pleasure!
As you know, we just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Sepalika. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Devika: Sepalika is pretty modern for a Sri Lankan, you could say, almost “Western”. She’s stuck in an awful situation that makes it difficult for her to live the way she wants and deserves, but I know she’ll find a way out because she’s stronger than she thinks.
Marie: (Nods.) I gathered some of that from talking to her.
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Devika: Her kindness and her intelligence.
Marie: Now let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, is her greatest weakness?
Devika: Her self-doubt.
Marie: So, what are some of her favorite foods?
Devika: She loves traditional Sri Lankan food like spicy vegetable curries and fish. And she’s a big fan of all the exotic fruits growing in her family’s garden, like guavas, mangoes and papayas.
Marie: Well, I can’t blame her. I love papayas!
Let’s try something else.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Devika: She’s really good at explaining and teaching things.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Devika: So far, readers really liked Sepalika because she is fighting for her own happiness but also always putting others first.
Marie: Well, that is certainly honorable. Now that we have a real taste of Sepalika, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Saved in Sri Lanka?
Devika: I’ve had many people tell me they’d love to read a romance novel set in Sri Lanka because I live here and am half Sri Lankan. I immediately knew if I ever wrote a story like this, I’d want to include a hero from a European country. And I’d want to show off this island’s beauty. The story sort of wrote itself then, with Daniel as the hero from Ireland and Sepalika as the tour guide falling in love with him.
Marie: That’s great! It does sound lovely.
So, Devika, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Devika: A mix of both, I guess. I do write a plot outline, plan the first few chapters and create character profiles, but I don’t go into too much detail and see where the story is taking me.
Marie: (Nods.) I do both as well. I let the story come out naturally in scenes, then I start doing heavy plotting and character work-ups. I write more from there, but I will still let the characters interfere with my plans if they have more to say.
So…I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Saved in Sri Lanka or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Devika: I found myself including too many descriptions, country facts and backstory. It always happens with my stories, but I cut those scenes out during my four or more rounds of editing. I’m very thankful for my awesome beta readers, they’re a big help.
Marie: I know exactly what you mean! I don’t know what I’d do without my beta readers, critique partners and my proofreader. 🙂
Well, it was such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Saved in Sri Lanka appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome new book by Devika Fernando, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Saved in Sri Lanka.
Some people are destined to meet.
It sure feels that way when Sri Lankan tour guide Sepalika meets Daniel. The mysterious tourist from Ireland steals his way into her heart and makes her question everything her life is built upon. Instant attraction turns to love – but does he feel the same? And what about the secret she’s hiding from him?
Follow the two on their quest for a happy ending amid the beauty and wonders of the tropical island paradise of Sri Lanka.
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00U5ZY8AI
About Devika Fernando
Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Her trademark is writing sweet, yet deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust. What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.
Having always loved to read and write, Devika made her dream come true in 2014 when she became a self-published novelist. The Amazon bestselling author has published several eBooks in the genres contemporary romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her German and Sri Lankan roots influence her writing.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Devika Fernando, here are some of her author links:
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Devika-Fernando/e/B00ISH0RD2/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Sepalika, the female main character of Saved in Sri Lanka, and Devika Fernando, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! Readers, don’t forget to check out this awesome new release! 🙂