Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 27th April, 2013.
Beginner’s Pluck: Roshi Fernando.
Born in London, of Sri Lankan parents, Roshi has always read voraciously. At three, she announced she was going to be a writer.
“I live by words. I use books as therapy. If I’m away from words, I feel a slight queasiness.”
After university, Roshi worked in the City of London, in various legal firms. She spent years, working at night.
Shortlisted for several short story awards, in 2009, Roshi was awarded the Impress Prize for New Writers
Who is Roshi Fernando?
Date of birth: 18th August 1966, Paddington, London.
Education: Various state comprehensives, James Allen Girls School. University of Warwick; Philosophy and Literature; University of Swansea, PhD Creative Writing.
Home: Near Stroud in Gloucestershire,
Family: Husband, Tom. Edward, 23, Isobel 20, Miranda, 14, Spikey 12. Three dogs.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer
Interests: “Drawing and illustration: crafting: running and walking: playing the ukulele, and the banjo. Dancing. And my friends. I make sure to have coffee or lunch with some of them at least once a week.”
Favourite Writers: William Trevor: Alice Munro: Tolstoy: Harper Lee.
Second Novel: “I’m writing it. I’ve been writing a collection of short stories too.”
Top Writing Tip: Dare! Be bold. Tell the real truth, the deep truth, and do it beautifully.
Web: www.roshifernando.com Twitter: @rofernando
The Debut: Homesick. Bloomsbury: €11.50 Kindle: €5.62
Set in eighties London, Homesick is structured as a series of linked short stories about a community of Sri Lankan emigrants. It mainly follows the family of the clever, but dyslexic Preethi, as she moves from childhood through her teens. Although marginalised, Preethi is never a victim.
“It worries me when I’m described as a Sri Lankan writer. I’d like people to realise the universality of the character’s experiences. Yes, this is the immigrant’s experience; but it’s any outsider’s experience. It’s about wanting to belong in a different setting from the one you were supposed to belong to. It’s about making the most of your situation.”
The Verdict: A wonderfully original voice. This debut is enlightening, and profoundly moving.
© Sue Leonard. 2013