AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES
Devika Fernando: The New Face of Romance
Finding one's way in a rapidly changing world is never easy, especially if you don't exactly fit in to a specific group or culture. Finding love when you're already a bit of an outsider or "black sheep" can be even trickier. Yet, despite the odds, novelist Devika Fernando has managed to find happiness in her life, lasting love with her husband, and success as a romance novelist.
Fernando, who will turn 27 next week, published her first book, When I See Your Face, in March 2014, and she's rapidly working to build her collection. This contemporary romance novella follows Cathy, who is trying to piece her life back together in a remote village after escaping her abusive former husband. However, she soon crosses paths with a wonderful new man who just happens to look exactly like her ex. Drama ensues in this well-crafted story, which is earning great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
It seems like everything is going right for Fernando, but she insists her life has been filled with bumps and twists in the road, just like her stories.
This Sri Lankan-based, German author returned to her mother's homeland in 2006 after 19 years in Germany. A life split between two drastically different places and cultures has had a profound impact on Fernando's life, viewpoint and writing style.
"When I lived in Germany for the first 19 years of my life, I was the 'dark-skinned foreigner' who didn't quite fit in, although I do view myself [as] more of a European than an Asian," she said. "Coming to Sri Lanka later on, I was straight away stigmatized as the 'Westerner' who thinks in a modern way, and who finds the strangest things here difficult.
Through such a unique life experience, Fernando has also gained great wisdom: "I guess the most valuable lesson my life has taught me is that you don't automatically belong anywhere; you need to make an effort, you need to keep learning and shaping yourself, and adjusting to your surroundings."
While she insists there is a definite difference between her real self and her characters, Fernando's personal experiences have influenced the types of stories she writes.
"When I tell stories about complicated family situations, about people torn out of their known surroundings, or about women trying to make it on their own in the working world, I let a little of my own experiences shine through," she said.
While her existing and developing projects vary in genre and style, one thing they share is the theme of finding love. For Fernando, this is an essential part of her identity as a writer and as a person.
"I believe in love ever after, and in two people finding happiness against all odds," she said. "When it boils down to it, I'm a hopeless romantic, so the romance genre begged to be explored. What I love most about writing romance novels is that the protagonists find not only love but also themselves. By falling hard for somebody, their whole outlook on life gets turned around, and they change the way they see themselves, too."
Fernando has found love in her personal life, having married a Sri Lankan man in 2007. They now live in Kandy.
Lovers of romance novels can get a taste of Fernando's own take on the genre by picking up a copy of When I See Your Face here and then look forward to her other upcoming titles. For more information, visit Fernando's official website, and follow her on Facebook and Goodreads.