An Interview with Devika Fernando: Romance Novelist

Your background is interesting – German education and then living in Sri Lanka. The famous Arthur C. Clarke lived there as well. What is it about Sri Lanka that you love?

I love the fact you can find nearly every climate and landscape here, although the island is so small. Then there’s the colorful history and culture, with traces of the Indians, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English everywhere you go, mixed with various religious and other Asian influences. This eclectic mix was one of the reasons why I wrote the novel “Saved in Sri Lanka”, revolving around a Sri Lankan tour guide who falls in love with an Irish tourist. All that aside, there’s a lot to be said for a nice spicy curry. 😉

Your tagline says that YOUR characters fall in love rather than fall in lust, a fascinating way of shifting the romance dynamic. How does that affect your storylines and your approach too creating them? Do you have to fall in love with your characters as well?

Fascinating question, thanks. I think we’re all a little sick of generic stories where the characters kiss on page 3, have some nice romps between the sheets, and never really explore any other dynamics apart from physical attraction put into jeopardy because some misunderstanding or other. That’s why I strive to create authentic, unique characters who are drawn to more than good looks in the other person. I want to explore all the challenges that love in its many forms brings with it, and its capacity to make people discover not just their partner for life but also themselves along the way. To that extent, I do fall in love with my characters. I breathe life into them, and they breathe life into the story. If I can relate to them in some way and root for their happy ending, the story is easier to write.

What’s your favorite book/author?

I always find it hard to answer that question because I’m such a voracious reader. If I HAD to pick only one author and one book, I’d go with Anne Rice (because I love her vampire chronicles) and with “The God of Small Things” written by Arundhati Roy.

What made you decide to be a writer? What led you there, steps involved? And why romance?

I was a bookworm from the time I knew how to read, and somehow, writing became a part of my love for books. I wrote my first – really short – short story when I was 7, and my first poem shortly afterwards.
I made the decision to become a romance novelist in 2013 when I saw all the news about ebooks and self-publishing online. Truth be told, I did a lot of research and reading first, and then decided to take the plunge with my novella “When I See Your Face” (now a permanently free download). There was never any question for me that it would be romance. It’s my favorite genre, although I basically read anything and everything. And I just love writing about love. 🙂

What is your writing process like? Are you fixed or fluidic? Set time and place for writing? Tools used? Pen, pencil, computer only, notes, fleshed thoroughly or just enough to get going?

My main job is being a technical writer for clients in Germany, so most of my day is spent writing texts for blogs, websites and online shops. But I always make it a point to write fiction too, usually in the afternoon or evening. My daily overall word count is at least 6,000 words, and Sundays are often the only days when I don’t write. I write ideas down by hand, sometimes also rough characterizations and plot outlines – and all my poems are hand-written. For non-fiction and fiction, I use the computer and keep it simple. Just plain old MS Word and the internet (for research).
I guess you could say I’m a mix between a plotter and a pantser: I do use rough outlines and make notes about the characters, but if the story takes me somewhere else, I follow the flow. And I have realized that I write best if I focus on whatever scene wants to be written at a given time. I don’t stick to a ‘chronicle’ timeline. Instead, I may write a chapter towards the end of the story early on or jump from scene to scene or chapter to chapter. Once I’ve written it all, I go back and blend everything together, write some short ‘fillers’ and revise the story before I embark on editing.

Do you edit as you write or get through and then rewrite?

I stay away from editing during writing because it tends to interrupt the flow. But sometimes I re-read what I’ve written to get back into a particular scene or switch between chapters, and then I might give in and do some minor editing.

Paper books or ebooks or both and why?

As a writer, ebooks. As a reader, both. I think ebooks make much more sense for an indie author. You can reach such a wide audience, you save yourself some work and can offer fair prices, and they are easily accessible at all times. But I do love losing myself in a good paperback novel off and on.

How long does it take you to get through the first draft of a novel?

That depends. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo several times and written more than 50,000 words in a month, but that wasn’t the whole book. So I’d say up to two months, depending on how much time I have.

What do you consider the shortfall of what you see getting published today?

There are a lot of wanna-be’s out there. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but too many people give it a go because they basically think “oh, how hard can it be?” or because they hope for quick money or have noticed ‘famous’ authors. I see it especially in the romance genre. And that has led to some low-quality books, especially among the millions of free books. It’s as though everyone under the sun wants to give writing and self-publishing a try now, precisely because it is so easy. Those books that are sometimes not even worth being called books sadly impact all of us writers because readers grow wary of indie authors or the lure of free/cheap fiction if they’ve had some bad experiences.

On the other hand, I love it how so many writers now have the opportunity to unleash their gift and live their dream, as opposed to having manuscripts languishing away and never receiving any feedback.

How did you come to meet Mike Wells? What was the lead up to deciding to co-write a book: Forbidden: Book 1?

I’m happy you asked me about this because I consider myself lucky that we crossed paths. I don’t remember how exactly I came to ‘meet’ Mike on social media, but he was a Facebook friend (just a connection I shared with tons of other writers) and we were connected on Twitter. I had also downloaded some of his free books like Book 1 of his bestselling thriller series “Lust, Money & Murder”. One day, I saw a Facebook post by him where he mentioned wanting to co-write a book with someone. I found the idea intriguing, left a comment and shared his post…not even considering that applying myself would be an option because I write romance. As fate would have it, Mike sent me a message and told me more about his idea, and we discussed matters in detail. The rest is history… 😉

And how did you find the experience?

I’m glad that Mike convinced me to take a leap of faith because co-authoring the romantic suspense series “Forbidden” with him was an amazing experience. He created an outline to work with and we communicated regularly (not just during the initial writing stages), and that made things a lot easier than they could have been. I learned so much from Mike, and I can’t wait to embark on a similar journey with him again.

Do you see yourself focusing beyond romance in the future? Or do you believe your readers still believe in princes? Royalty, and why?

I write in several sub-genres (contemporary romance mostly, but also paranormal romance with my “Fire Trilogy” and romantic suspense with Mike). And I don’t have any plans on ditching my favorite genre. But I might try my hand at dystopian YA one day in the future.
I chose royalty for my latest books because I was looking for a different kind of hero, away from the general types like billionaires, rock stars, bad boys and shifters. And I think it adds fascinating details on so many levels – making up fictional kingdoms, having common people be thrown into all the grandeur and splendor, highlighting the conflicts that social status can bring while at the same time stressing that deep down royals are normal people too. I also love writing multicultural romances like “Saved in Sri Lanka” and “Seduced in Spain” because I can share different cultures and make readers explore various countries alongside me and my protagonists.

How does your process work with Mike, from two different locations?

During co-authoring, we mostly rely on e-mails. We have outlines in Word that we work with. And we message each other on Facebook if there is anything we want to discuss. It’s what I love so much about the internet and also about the ‘modern’ way of writing and publishing: it’s so easy to stay connected. Not even time differences are a real hindrance.

Any other information, shameless plugs, urls, links to other forums you wish to share?

I’m currently working on a third multicultural romance titled “In Love in Italy”, and I’ve got many more royal romances planned. To those who want to get a taste of my writing, I recommend signing up to my Romance Readers Club here ( Members can instantly claim 3 free ebooks, and they’ll receive newsletters with multi-author giveaways, book prices, interesting sneak peeks and updates.

I also love to connect with my readers and with other authors on social media. People can find me on Facebook ( and Twitter ( and basically everywhere else where writers usually hang out.