02 September 2019
The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.
“Logathasan (Das) Tharmathurai is a writer and information systems professional. He decided to write his memoir thirty-two years after leaving Sri Lanka. Das lives in Toronto, Ontario”.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Two years ago, I made a conscious decision to write my memoir. I suffered privately with the terrible things that I encountered as a boy. I was chased by a military helicopter, left stranded in a conflicted area, and lived in refugee camps and prison. The nightmares continued over the years and I would share bits and pieces of my stories with my family and friends. I never thought of becoming a writer. I just wanted to get my message out to people.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
When I was in Sri Lanka, I wrote a few essays in Tamil. About twenty years ago, I wrote the first draft of my memoir in English. It was only five pages and I wrote it for my sons to remember me.
How did you develop your skills?
I nearly failed my Grade 12 English literature class here in Canada. Working as an IT professional, I wrote business requirements and technical documents. This helped me develop the skills needed to write my memoir.
Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book/author?
I don’t have any influential authors. However, I admire the storytelling work of The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski and The Boat People by Sharon Bala – beautifully written to show the story rather than telling it.
How would you describe your work?
The Sadness of Geography is an autobiography based on my own life experiences. This book is about survival and perseverance to find a better life.
What’s your writing process like?
I spent about a year to complete the first draft of the manuscript. First month, I spent time jotting down plot points. Then I spent another month doing the research to build the event list and the schedule. After that, I put them together as chapters, then started to deep dive into each chapter. I spent nearly forty hours a week and each chapter took me about two weeks to complete.
While I was writing, I was diagnosed with cancer. The thought of me leaving the Earth without telling my story really frightened me. I recovered well and am free of cancer now. I never stopped writing.
Tell us more about the book and your story.
The Sadness of Geography describes my struggles during the long and brutal Sri Lankan Civil War. The book gives some background about who I am and why I left my beloved homeland. I am hoping that the refugee experience can be felt through The Sadness of Geography so people would know what many other millions of refugees have gone through and displaced by no fault of our own.
What are you working on now/next?
I am thinking of writing about my life here in Canada. Currently, I am more focussed on promoting my book The Sadness of Geography.
Logathasan (Das) Tharmathurai will be appearing at The Word On The Street Toronto’s 30th Anniversary festival this September. Visit their website for more thewordonthestreet.ca/