9 February 2012

Getting to know you Thursdays with Anusha Atukorala


Please join me in welcoming Anusha Atukorala to my blog today. Anusha is an Aussie non fiction author who I have gotten to know in the past few months.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I come from the beautiful little island of  Sri Lanka. We have been in Australia for 13 years to date. I love Australia and its wide open spaces and it’s lovely people. I’m married to Shan – we’ve been married for almost 26 years. I am blessed to have a husband who also loves books. We have a 21 year old son, Asela, who is our pride and joy. I am passionate about life, about Jesus, about music, friendships, people, the beauty of Creation and of course books – both reading and writing them!
 
2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?
Hmmm! It’s hard to talk of favourites, since I had many favourites, but let me think. I did read lots of Enid Blyton books when I started reading – and I’m glad they developed in me a great love for reading. The series I loved most when growing up is the Anne of Green Gable series by LM Montgomery. I have read them many times over and the characters feel very real to me. In fact I enjoyed all LMM’s books (she wrote many different series) and still re-read them. Another book that captivated me was ‘Daddy Long legs’ by Jean Webster. Loved it! I also enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel books by Baroness Emma Orczy, The Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott, the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and all the Agatha Christie books.
(Jenny here, I loved enid Blyton books as a child she was wonderful loved the faraway tree book, naughtiest girl books, the secret seven and famous five to name a few)

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and write?
When I was younger, I mainly read fiction and very little non fiction. However, as I have grown older, I have found non fiction equally interesting and fascinating. I frequent our local library and usually borrow about 25 books each time – perhaps half non fiction and half fiction. I used to read lots of thrillers but of late that has changed. One of my favourite genres are mystery romances and Mary Stewart is one of my favourite Authors. I am always on the lookout for new Authors. I do read a lot of Christian books which are mostly non fiction and are on Christian living.
          As for writing, my favourite genre to date has been non fiction in Christian living. I also hope to publish a few books of short stories and a few novels one day. I do enjoy encouraging people both through my personal life and through what I write. I love to inspire others to a closer walk with Jesus. Also, God has blessed me greatly and it’s one way I can repay Him in a small way for all He has done for me.

4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?
All those I mentioned earlier have definitely influenced me. I would love to write in a similar vein to LM Montgomery although I know that aiming to reach such heights is aspiring very high and probably an impossible dream! A few other authors I have enjoyed over the years are Dick Francis, PG Wodehouse and John Grisham. No doubt all Authors I have read have influenced me in some way even if I write a different genre to many of them. Two people who have influenced me a lot as a Writer are my parents. My Dad was the Director of a newspaper group. Mum has worked as a journalist for almost 70 years and is still doing so, at her grand age of 86. They have given me a deep love of books and of reading and writing. I am very grateful to them.

5. When did you know you wanted to be an Author?
Probably when I was 7 or 8 years old I would guess. I spoke only my Mother tongue Sinhalese, for the first 3 years of my life. But when I started school, I had apparently switched mainly to English and then the world of English books opened out to me. My Mum says that at the age of 10, I used to walk around with a notebook and scribble in it constantly. In my mind’s eye I can see the novel I wrote when I was 9 or 10 years old in an exercise book with its cover torn out. Unfortunately I didn’t get it published although I certainly had aspirations to do exactly that!

6. How did you go about becoming an author?
Actually Jenny, I didn’t go about becoming an Author. That part of my life happened out of the blues. I studied a variety of different things as I grew up and did many different types of work. I loved Chemistry, so when I left school I studied to become a Lab Technician and worked in the Chemistry lab of a Girl’s High school. I then went on to learn Computer Programming and loved it. So I worked as an Analyst Programmer for many years. I then became a full time Mum and loved that role even better.

We arrived in Australia in 1999 and for the first few years, I concentrated on looking after my son. I was happily involved in lots of volunteer work in his primary school. When Asela entered high school, I decided I’d look for employment. 6 years of trying to get a part time job ended only in 1 interview and no job. That interview was my wake up call. I believe God spoke to me through it. What I heard Him saying to me was to pursue my long felt dream of becoming a Writer.

I heeded that call. And haven’t looked back. Writing energises me and I feel I am doing what I am born to do when I write. That was exactly 5 years ago. Since then, I have been published each year in the Aussie Stories series, in 8 of their books to date. My own first book ‘Enjoying the Journey’ was published in June 2010. I’ve written 3 more since and am working on my 5th book now! So as I said before – God made it all happen. It has been an exciting journey!

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
Interesting question! I really enjoyed Computer Programming and could easily do more of that! I also love to sing – so perhaps to be a singer? I enjoy listening to people and helping them – so being a Counsellor would be also top of my list. I currently work as a Volunteer at my church, connecting with people from the community and love that role. So any job helping people is part of what I like to do. Presently, I run a support group for Mums of children with learning difficulties and find that very rewarding.

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?
My times with God are the most important part of my day and are very special, Jenny. I love to study the Bible. I love to sit on my garden swing, listen to praise music and chat with my Heavenly Father. I also enjoy composing songs, singing and strumming my guitar. I love walking and usually incorporate that into my day. My friends are vitally important to me – so I spend lots of time sustaining my friendships and making new friends. I enjoying seeing see new places – and do that on holidays with my husband and son. Nature always thrills me – relishing the beauty of Creation is something that also takes priority in my life.

And then of course, a walk and talk with my husband is always a treat; and curling up with him on the sofa, watching our Favourite TV series is something that brings me deep pleasure.

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?
Since I live in Australia, I really enjoy going back to Sri Lanka to visit. I still have family and friends over there and it’s great to connect with them whenever I go back. One of my favourite places in Sri Lanka are the beautiful up country mountain areas which really refresh and inspire me. I also love to travel, so there are many more places I would re-visit like Disneyland, New York and Santa Barbara.  I hope we can to tour Europe one day and also the Holy Land. It would be lovely to see the places Jesus walked around.

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?
I’m choosing 3 people I usually can’t have a meal with, due to distance or circumstances.

I would first have a meal with my Mum. She is one of the most special people in my life. I don’t see her as often as I would like, since she lives in Sri Lanka. So I would choose her above all. She has not only my Mum but also a very special friend and my daily email correspondent over 13 years!
I would also go over to the UK to have a meal with a special friend from my past – my friend Marto. We became friends in 1977 – a good 35 years ago! She and I wrote 30 page letters to each other when growing up. We both aspired to be Writers one day. We followed different paths to get there but we are now both are busy Writing – she’s far higher in the ladder than I am – with a PHD in English. I don’t get a chance of having a meal with her usually – and it would be wonderful to compare notes on our writing journeys as Writers and also our Christian journeys after all this time – and that’s why I’d choose her.
I would also choose a poor child in a country I have not visited before – one of the African countries, or Mexico or South America perhaps – someone I have never met before. It would be wonderful to sit and eat together and see his or her joy at tucking into a good spread. I know I would have much to learn from that child whoever she or he may be!
Please may I add a 4th? I read this morning in Revelations how Jesus knocks on our hearts door and asks us to invite him in to eat with us. As I read that, I realised that I would love to have a meal with Jesus. That would be awesome!

Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will
be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.
My book “Enjoying the Journey” was published by Back to the Bible Sri Lanka in June 2010. It’s a collection of 75 little stories that give lessons from every day life. It has 16 colour photographs and 75 sketches for each story as well drawn by niece Dilshara Hill.

It can be obtained by requesting one from my Facebook page ‘Enjoying the Journey’ by Anusha Atukorala. I have written two more books to make up a Trilogy and am hoping that they would be published in the next few years. I am also working on a book entitled ‘Laughing the Rain’ – what to do when life crashes’. Another book I have yet to publish is a Devotional Book or Calendar with little devotions and photographs.

My online presence right now is via Christian Writers Down Under and can be seen on this page. http://www.christianwritersdownunder.com/AnushaAtukorala.html
I am in the middle of negotiations with my son to create a Website for me in the coming months! Hopefully published in 2012 as a sequel to ‘Enjoying the Journey’ will be ‘And better than places…” a book with 75 little stories like my 1st one and following from the earlier theme that everyone matters and that everyone can make a difference.

A big thank you for having me on your blog. I’ve enjoyed the interview and the walk down memory lane. Thanks so much, Jenny!  (It was a pleasure been good getting to know you.)

3 comments:

Paula Vince said...

"Enjoying the Journey" is an excellent book I'd recommend as an antidote to anyone who's feeling a bit blue. It really helps us appreciate the richness of all we have. Anusha, it was great reading more about you.

Rose Dee said...

Lovely, uplifting interview, Anusha.

WordTinker said...

I love lessons from everyday life. Thanks for introducing this author:-)
Blessings,
Wendy
(aussiewriters)

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