1. You have lived in different parts of the world such as Germany and Sri Lanka. How do you approach the problem of moving to a new country where you speak none/little of the language?Germany was a lot easier. My parents moved (back) there when I was hardly 3 months old, and I grew up there. Whereas I considered myself totally and typically German, other people’s image of me was a bit more Asian-tinged, I’d guess. I didn’t fit in completely, but definitely more than in Sri Lanka later on.
After spending nearly 20 years in Germany and soaking up the ‘European’ lifestyle, I moved to Sri Lanka. Acclimatizing and adjusting here was more difficult. It was a huge advantage that most people I was in touch with spoke English so well. Later on, I watched a lot of television and just listened and watched intently, so I picked up Sinhalese like that. I’ve always been a keen observer (which helps the writer in me), so it was easier than it could have been.
My initial plan was to stay in Sri Lanka for about a year and then move to Australia to get a Bachelor degree… but then love found me, and I stayed. My husband and I spent a couple of years in Germany before returning to Sri Lanka, and that was an interesting experience because suddenly he was the one turning to me for advice as well as copying my behaviour, and not the other way round.
2. What are the joys and woes of living in a different culture?
I am someone who likes stability and is introverted, so facing a new culture was a challenge in many ways. But it was also an invaluable lesson about myself, and about how the world works. I learned how to compromise. It has broadened my horizon and enriched my writing because I find it easier to see things from another perspective now. Plus, Sri Lanka is a visually beautiful country, truly exotic. As for the downsides, definitely having to start from scratch and never knowing what comes next.
3. What is the appeal of mixing the cultural heritage of your protagonists?
I love showing how love can conquer all. Then there’s the added challenge of even considering the other one as a suitable partner, of maybe convincing others of the match. And my Romance Round the World series allows me to choose various countries as a setting and whisk the readers away for a journey. Book 1 (Saved in Sri Lanka) is set in Sri Lanka. The heroine is Sri Lankan and the hero is Irish. Book 2 (Seduced in Spain) is set in parts of Spain, and the Spanish hero is paired with a German heroine.
4. Do you write cultural backgrounds you have experienced at first-hand, or do you research extensively?
Both. And that’s the biggest advantage of having lived in a European / Western country as well as in an Asian country. Extensive online research is the foundation, and my own experiences give me a certain feeling for it to add in the details and emotional baggage, so to speak.
5. Do you ‘hear’ accents or patterns of speech as you create dialogue in English?
I do, actually. Probably because I’m such a language ‘freak’. I’ve always been fascinated by languages. I know 8, more or less well.
6. Have you written stories in languages other than English?
I started writing poetry and prose in German, years ago before I felt comfortable enough with English. It’s my mother tongue, but the funny thing is that I now feel much more at home writing in English than in German.
7. Which audience do you have in mind as you write a story with multi-cultural characters?
Anyone who believes in love, who enjoys learning new things and is up for armchair-travel, who likes reading about the setting as much as about the characters.
8. Can you share your most interesting/amusing/embarrassing moment living in a foreign country?
That’s a tricky one. ;-) I vividly remember the first time I went to a Sri Lankan supermarket. In Germany, we all pack our groceries into our own bags after they’ve been scanned in by the cashier, and naturally I started doing that here too, as fast as possible. Suddenly, it grew really quiet around the cash counter, everyone standing in line around me staring or whispering, the cashier pretty flustered. Apparently, in Sri Lanka either the cashier or staff standing by will – in agonizing slowness and with hardly any system to it – pack your stuff into various polythene bags, so you basically have to stand by solemnly and twiddle your thumbs… I do that now, but I still feel my fingers itching. :D
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, Devika is a faithful servant to all the cats and dogs she has adopted. When she's not writing, she's reading or thinking about writing
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