I found out about Oshin Alagiyawanna’s book after meeting her father, wildlife photographer Dilum Alagiyawanna, in the Facebook group ‘Authors and Artists Love Wildlife’.
I loved Dilum Alagiyawanna’s photos, but then he told me that not he, but his daughter has written this children’s book ‘Life in a Herd’. I have only seen elephants in a zoo, so I didn’t know anything about them living in a herd. So I was very curious and read her book. Oshin tells us the story through the eyes of elephant-boy Marley, who lives in a herd with his grandma, mom, aunts, and cousins. In an exciting way, we are informed about the fun Marley has while playing and discovering the world. We also learn about the problems the elephants face on their road while traveling to find food. While reading you almost feel as if you are living in the herd yourself. But you feel also this 17-year old author’s empathy for the humans, and I think that invites children, and adults to search, to find a way that both, humans and elephants can live together.
I believe Oshin Alagiyawanna is a promising new talent and I am happy to introduce her at Meet Your Next Favorite Author.
- Can you introduce yourself, what’s your name, where are you from… ?
Hey there, I am Oshin Alagiyawanna, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, I’m 17 years old, currently studying for Edexcel A levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at Gateway College Colombo. I successfully passed my ordinary level exams with distinction for all my subjects and now I am working towards the goal of getting 4A* in my A level and applying to a good university in a foreign country to do my undergraduate studies.
- Tell us something unexpected about yourself!
I have a keen interest in Astronomy. We all are made up from the same substances stars are made up of, and this amazes me, and therefore I want to know what’s out there, what rules the universe.
- Give 2 things about yourself that you think matter the most?
I trust my intuition and I am a tough person who has endured tough times.
- Identity Card
- Do you remember the first book you read?
The Magic Porridge Pot and Three Billy Goats Gruff
- What makes you laugh/cry?
I have a huge tendency to laugh out loud in class when my classmates joke around and sometimes I can’t stop laughing even after the laughter of others have ceased down. I often find myself crying when I watch a film with a sad ending or if have been hurt by those closest to me.
- In which genre do you write?
I don’t have a specific genre that I stick to as this is my first book after all. I would like to try out almost all kinds of genres.
- What makes your book special, how is it different from other books in your genre?
It is special because it’s a story that drives people to work for the conservation of endangered Asian wild elephants. The behaviour of the elephants in my story are not imaginary, they’re real and highlights the human-like behaviour of elephants. It changes the perception of how people view elephants. It speaks out the elephants’ side of the story in human-elephant conflict.
- How do you feel when you write, do you have a special ritual?
No, I don’t. I sit down to write depending on my mood and the thoughts become words as my pen touches the paper.
- What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired by a project done by my dad for a book and a documentary on the Great Elephant Gathering of Asia. By listening to his encounters with wild elephants, I was awed by their human-like behaviour and was saddened by what they had to go through because of human-elephant conflict.
- How did you come up with the title?
Since the story revolves around a herd and as I was trying my best to portray their lives, I decided to title this story as “ Life in a Herd”.
- If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?
Halt the ranger from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, because he is a character that I would like to relate to.
- Is there a message in your book that you hope the readers will grasp?
Yes, there is an important message of conservation. Furthermore, I really would like my readers to change their perception about Asian wild elephants and their role in the human-elephant conflict.
- What are your top 3 books of all time?
This is quite hard to decide but nevertheless, I would rank my top 3 as
- Lord of the rings
- The Dark Artifices
- Pride and Prejudice
- and Call of the wild as well.
- How important is marketing and social media for you?
It is pretty important to me because I want to get publicity for my book as its total proceeds is to support the good cause of collecting funds for the scholarship which will aid secondary school students in human-elephant conflict areas.
- Is it important for you to get book reviews?
Do you read them? Yes, I do read them and they are important because it is then that I know what my readers think of the book.
- What advice do you have for other writers?
Don’t stop to think to write, Just write. Write your day’s story, write your emotions and keep on writing and most of all write from your heart.
- Can you give your book information: blurb, link, genre (for children’s book, please tell for what age)
Book: Life in a Herd
Blurb: “This story is, by implication an appeal to humans to cultivate empathy towards the elephants. Her story-telling is so efficient that one cannot help but be immensely saddened by the fate in store for the wild-elephants. In this story, there is a concluding ecological message that is strongly worded. The young child’s request is that we work out a formula, enabling both humans and elephants to live in mutually sympathetic co-existence.”
Kalakeerthi, Dr. Edwin Ariyadasa Senior Media Consultant/Editor/Author/Writer
Asin (Amazon): B07HHX7NJ3
Age: 5 to 18+
Book: THE DINOSAUR ADVENTURE: Unity is Strength
I hope you don’t mind Oshin, that I want to add here your little brother’s book too. You made me curious with your Facebook group Children’s Books For Nature Conservation and so I found out that Akira, your 9-year-old brother, also had published a book in the benefit for Nature Conservation. It is a little story about dinosaurs, in which he explains, in simple words, and wonderful colored images, how we can overcome all problems when we help each other, and look out for each other.
Facebook: Children’s Books For Nature Conservation
- Now back to you Oshin with this QUICK POP-QUIZ. (You can choose one or both, and please feel free to add a very brief comment)
Snow or sun: Never really experienced real snow except perhaps the artificially generated one, But I would still select snow over the sun. Coldness is my preference.
Soccer or (ice) hockey: Soccer is my absolute favourite.
Dogs or cats: Cats relate to me, whereas dogs are awfully messy and hyper.
Ice-cream or fruit: Ice cream
Fact or fiction: both
Music or silence: Definitely Music
Sport or reading: both
Sea or mountains: sea
Groundhogs or squirrels: squirrels
Books or movies: both
E-book or print: print, I just love the smell of printed paper
- Is there anything more you want to tell your readers?
As humans are the very reason for elephants being threatened in their existence I believe all my readers could show empathy towards these human like endangered creatures and assist in conserving their community which is in dire need of our help if they are to sustain in the future.