At first meeting, you wouldn’t think that the effervescent Shehani
Gomes was a real writer. Typing rapidly on her laptop at a zillion
letters per minute, even though Shehani takes her job as a Management
Consultant at a carbon trading company seriously, her passion is
“Writing has always been my passion and my first attempt at a novel,
‘Learning to Fly’ took me a good five years to brainstorm and when I
finished the book I was 19 years,” said twenty-something Shehani who
started writing after she left school. “I actually started writing
poetry but then progressed to novel writing but it’s all about enjoying
what I write as well,” said Shehani who likes to use the ‘Notes’
application on her mobile to do some writing when she is bored or
Mentioning how she found the writer in her, Shehani said her father’s
relatives are rather artistic and she puts down her talent to probably
her paternal side while her mother has been her guiding light.
She mentioned that the novel is about three central characters, their
experiences of adolescence and eventually, their search for happiness.
“I broach topics like first love, the generation gap, suicide and a
multitude of areas that are part of growing up,” she said, noting that
adolescence was like a grey area of your life. “It is somewhat linked to
personal aspirations but it is an unstructured novel with surprises and
sudden outbreaks of thoughts and similar aspects,” said Shehani.Shehani
said she’s already working on her second book which is currently being
done in conjunction with her CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams. “I
just sat for my CFA in June and I hope to release my second book by
December 2009,” she said.
Shehani’s publishers Ameena Hussein and Sam Perera have been
instrumental in shaping her literary career and recently organised a
book signing for her at ODEL. “Working with Ameena and Sam was a great
experience, and I think together, they form a bold outfit which
recognizes Sri Lankan writing talent,” she said.
Having got a diverse response from many who have read her ‘Learning
to Fly’ book, Shehani said she was happy with the feedback. “People from
different age groups had different things to say, the younger crowd
particularly identified with the themes and the characters,” she said.
As for advice, Shehani said, “Follow your heart and give writing a
However, in Sri Lankan English literature, the structure of the
industry needs to develop to an extent where Sri Lankan writers can get
visibility on an international platform.”
Talking about how she would like to be recognized as a writer, she
said, “It’ll be good if a book is recognized for its value rather than a
I think that there is a good readership for Sri Lankan writers.” At
the second Galle Literary Festival, Shehani said it gave her good
exposure and it was a good experience to rub shoulders with great
literary figures from around the world.