Devika Fernando is the author of several contemporary romance novels such as When I See Your Face, Kaleidoscope of Hopes and Saved in Sri Lanka. She also writes paranormal romance and has coauthored the bestselling romantic suspense novel Forbidden with Mike Wells. Her trademark is writing stories where the protagonists don’t just fall in lust but really fall in love, thus discovering a new meaning to their lives as well as their affection and acceptance for themselves. She loves sending her characters on a journey of emotional discovery. As the author is half-German and half-Sri Lankan, she lets both Western and Eastern influences seep into her sensual writing.
Whenever Devika is not writing or thinking about writing, she is buried in a book and lost to the world, preferably with a puppy or kitten curled up in her lap. She also works as a web content writer and translator.
Vinita Kinra: Welcome to Global Asian Times, Devika. Tell us about yourself.
Devika Fernando: I am a romance novelist of half-German, half-Sri Lankan descent. My main job is working as content provider for clients from Germany, which means I get to write about every topic under the sun. But my real passion is writing fiction. I spent the first 19 years of my life in Germany, and recently settled down in Sri Lanka with my husband and my mini-zoo (4 dogs, 2 cats, a fish, and the odd rescued squirrel or bird). I’m a voracious reader, and it is my love for reading which started my fascination with writing.
Vinita Kinra: Walk us through your love affair with romantic fiction.
Devika Fernando: I wrote my first short story when I was 8 years old. As a teenager, I gravitated towards poetry, and most of my poems were about love. At about the same time, I started reading romance novels. That’s when I instantly knew that if I ever wrote my own book, it would be a romance novel. It is just so fascinating to read about two people falling in love and discovering themselves along the way. I firmly believe in true love — and I have a soft spot for happy endings, so romance is the genre I feel most at home with.
Devika Fernando: In 2013, I decided to write and publish my own romance novel. First, I spent hours researching the eBook market and self-publishing. Then, I wrote so furiously that I finished the whole book during the month of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November). My debut, When I See Your Face, was inspired by a Sri Lankan daily soap with a good twin and an evil twin, with an innocent woman caught in between, and once I had outlined the plot, the story just flowed out of me. It deals with some delicate subjects like domestic violence.
Vinita Kinra: Has your experience of living in the East and the West enriched your craft of writing?
Devika Fernando: Yes, I am quite sure of that. German is a very lyrical, though complicated language, and wonderful for trying your hand at writing. However, I found myself writing in English eventually as none of my friends from around the world spoke German. The mix of Western and Eastern cultures has taught me a lot about adjusting, changing, keeping customs, being a free spirit, being the master of your own (love) life, or submitting to society’s pressure. My heroines reflect these contrasting struggles, beliefs and qualities.
Vinita Kinra: Who is your most loved romantic fiction writer and why?
Devika Fernando: I’d have to choose three writers I admire greatly: Nora Roberts for her ground-breaking romance novels, and for churning out entertaining books like other people cook meals; Anne Rice for inspiring me to write with her enigmatic vampires, and for breathing new life into paranormal fiction; and lastly, Arundhati Roy for her courageous writing and emotional sensitivity. Her novel, The God of Small Things is my favourite book.
Devika Fernando: Yes. While my main focus lies on sweet-and-sensual contemporary romance, I have always been drawn to everything paranormal and supernatural. The idea for a paranormal romance novel revolving around elemental magic (fire power) struck me while admitting some modern artwork online. I love the freedom of world-creating and experimenting with the characters, their powers and their emotional depth that this genre permits. I’m currently writing the sequel, Dancing with Fire, and I have a third book titled Living with Fire planned.
Vinita Kinra: What prompted you to co-author the trilogy, Forbidden?
Devika Fernando: I saw a Facebook post by bestselling author Mike Wells, mentioning an exciting new project about co-authoring books, and I answered it on the spur of the moment. After Mike outlined his plan to me, I was terrified and thrilled at the same time, and finally decided to take on the challenge. I have to say it was a very positive experience because of the way he handled everything, and I have learned a lot from him. Forbidden is a romantic thriller, and both of our writing strengths have come together to create a novel of intrigue, betrayal and love.
Vinita Kinra: Give us a sneak peek into your latest offering, Saved in Sri Lanka.
Devika Fernando: Saved in Sri Lanka is a multicultural/interracial romance novel where a tour guide from Sri Lanka (Sepalika) falls in love with a tourist from Ireland (Daniel). Against all odds, they’re powerfully attracted to each other, but Sepalika is hiding a secret that makes a relationship with him impossible. What I loved most about writing this book is that I got a chance to show off all the beautiful places and historical sights of my birthplace, while also highlighting that love between two people from completely different backgrounds is definitely possible.
Vinita Kinra: What are your future projects?
Devika Fernando: I have almost finished writing the sequel to my paranormal romance novel, Playing with Fire, and am also working on my half-finished novel, In Deep Water. It is another paranormal romance novel, revolving around the element of water and my own definition of mermaids. These days, I am serially publishing my first book, When I See Your Face, on my blog at www.devikafernando.com, offering readers one free excerpt everyday.
Vinita Kinra: Our readers would like to sample an excerpt from one of your books. (Max. 400 words)
“Follow me over there for a second.”
They walked to a corner of the garden, and Sepalika could see Daniel react the way she had expected it. He lifted his head and took a deep breath. She smiled to herself and felt a thrill rush through her.
“Can you smell that?”
He nodded with wide eyes. “It’s such an intoxicating scent, so…I don’t know, intense and sweet, mysterious and confident.”
Now her eyes widened, and a shiver of pleasure ran down her spine.
“This is my namesake,” she said, and her voice was hardly more than a whisper.”
He turned to stare at her then back at the flower-laden tree exuding such potent magic.
“May I introduce you to the redolent sepalika flower, commonly called night jasmine or coral jasmine, and sometimes confused with Queen of the Night. This tree’s flowers bloom only after dark, enchanting throughout the night. Shortly after dawn they’ll start wilting, and by morning you’ll have a patch of earth decked out in fallen, faded flowers.”
Daniel walked over to the tree as if in trance. He plucked one of the small white flowers and inhaled its powerful but not overpowering scent.
“They’re not just beautiful,” she continued. “People believe they’ll help you sleep soundly and dream sweetly. They are dried and stuffed into pillows for that purpose. Experts in native medicine claim it can help children with constipation.”
“Fascinating,” he murmured and walked back to her, stopping right in front of her so she had to crane her neck to peer into his deep, now surprisingly dark eyes.
“You know, this flower isn’t always praised for its beauty. Some people aren’t too fond of it because it looks bare and barren, common and even sort of forlorn during daytime. They dub it the ‘tree of sorrow’, but every night the fragrant flowers cause even the most sorrowful people to smile and appreciate.”
“There’s a whole story and lesson lingering there,” Daniel said, whispering too. “Looks like they’re much more than fragrant…just like you’re much more than what meets the eye.”
He leaned in and lifted his hand as if he wanted to stick the flower into her hair or even kiss her.