Interviews

“Tit-Tik depicts the unbreakable bond between a man and his pet dog” Ragulan Tharmakulasingam

Sri Lanka is the birthplace of several multitalented, visionary and unconventional artists. They range from writers to performing artists who have swum across the ring of salty waters and show the world the irresistible might the island nation possesses. They are the magic coins of countries creative economies, the glue of the nation united future, and the ambassadors of Sri Lanka. 

He took up the challenge of changing the children of a nation by inculcating a culture of reading, and as a result, he founded the social enterprise called Pick A Book that has reached out to more than five countries so far. “The little Ideas grow bigger than your dreams and breed new ideas,” Raglan says, talking about his venture and the book he wrote recently. 

Inspired by the life struggle of his companion, Simbutu, his new release is a powerful story weaved with the utmost sensitivity. The Asian Review is pleased to introduce Ragulan Tharmakulasingam, the founder of Pick A Book International and author of Tik-Tik, for our readership across the world. 

A.R: You are an author, entrepreneur, and reader who has a keen interest in promoting a culture of reading in Sri Lanka and extending beyond the frontiers of the island nation; our readers can be very interested in your journey far.

I started off as a marketing graduate, and right after my graduation, I knew I wanted to go solo and start my own company. And that’s what I did. I started a marketing consulting company – Epitom Consulting, and because of my background in digital marketing, I branched out to a digital marketing company, too, under the name Epitom Digital. 

Pick a Book book club was initiated down the road as a fun office activity. The book club got everyone’s attention and started thriving. Pick a Book is currently operating in four countries and over 22 regions. 

As for my book TIK TIK, I wanted to tell the story of my incredible pet dog to the world. He left a great impact on me, and I wanted to share it with everyone. 

A.R: Pick a book is not only a reading club; it has much more than “Picking a book and read” it’s a platform where authors meet their readers, and readers meet readers… would you mind telling our readers about the venture as well as advantages of its membership. 

When we realized that the concept of Pick a Book was a winning one, we decided to expand on it. We wanted to make it more than just a book club. It’sIt’s a platform where readers get to revel more in books; share the joys of literature, discover great reads, and rekindle the habit of reading. And, you’re right, Pick a Book is more than just picking up a book; it’s this very own ecosystem for readers to get connected to other readers globally, develop leadership and public speaking skills, and gain valuable perspectives, among a plethora of other benefits

A.R: You recently unveiled your very first published work. Can you tell us about the storyline and what inspired you for writing it?

The story follows the life of my beloved little pet dog Simbutu, who led a remarkable life. The book depicts that unbreakable bond between a man and his pet dog. The bond I shared with Simbutu transcended the relationship of a human and a pet to that of a father and a son. Simbutu left such an impact on me that I wanted to immortalize him through my book. TIK TIK will give you a glimpse into the life Simbutu lived; his zest for life, intelligence, faithfulness, and outlook on life. Through my book, I hope Simbutu’sSimbutu’s story will teach my readers how to trust, love, face adversities with courage and live life to the fullest- just as Simbutu did. 

A.R: Can you tell us about the process of writing “Tik Tik”? Did you encounter blocks? If Yes, how did you overcome them?

Writing the book was pretty straightforward – from starting off with the key points of Simbutu’sSimbutu’s life to then writing, checking the manuscript, proofreading, and finally designing, printing, and marketing. As for encountering writer’s block, I didn’t find it to be much of an issue, seeing as it was a real-life story and every bit of Simbutu’sSimbutu’s life was etched in my memory. Simbutu had such an impact on me that it was easy to tell his story

A.R: As an author, what are the challenges you ahem encountered during your journey so far? How did you manage to tackle them? 

The process of getting the book written was the easiest part of the whole process. I was lucky enough to face minimal challenges comparatively. I did face some challenges down the road due to the Covid-19 virus and the restrictions imposed as a reason, but I would say I had it easier than most authors, and I’m grateful for that. 

A.R: Are you a plotter or a panster? How do you start a piece of writing, and how do you finish it?

Since the story of Simbutu was real and connected to my heart, I would say I’m a plotter as it didn’t take much time to narrate the story. The timelines and the storyline were already drawn out, and I just had to narrate it. A mental framework of the story was there in my head, and I just had to fill it in to complete the book. 

A:R: There is a polarised debate about e-books, audiobooks today. How do you see embracing technology as an author? 

I think it’s inevitable we embrace going digital with books too, and it’s a good thing, seeing as how books become more accessible through digital means and authors have the chance of a greater global audience. While technology is certainly making our lives easier, printed books are still dominating and growing in the playing field even up the reading frontier. I see the advantages of digitizing books, but I think we can all relate that there’s nothing quite like touching, smelling and feeling a book. That’sThat’s just my opinion. 

A.R: Social media has become more powerful than ever before, and none seems capable of stay away from them. How is your presence on social media? How do you use social media for promotion purposes?

I agree that social media is a powerful tool to get your word across and needs to be utilized. I used Facebook, Instagram, Linked In and my blog to promote my book, and it worked! The first 500 copies of my book were sold using just my personal social media platforms. 

As a digital marketer, I had the advantage of knowing how the gears worked. My team and I created pre-launch teasers, amped up launch hype and regularly updated post-launch posts like videos, images, GIFs, etc., and it all paid off very well.

A.R: As an author and entrepreneur based in Sri Lanka, how do you see the publishing landscape in Sri Lanka? What are the significant challenges the authors and readers encounter in the publishing ecosystem of the island nation? 

The publishing landscape can be more connected to authors and aspiring authors. That is one thing I noticed. It was a bit disappointing to see very little activity happening around the publishing landscape of Sri Lanka. There’sThere’s also very little awareness and hype of what authors and aspiring authors are doing. If publishers can up their game to match the enthusiasm of some of the publishing houses abroad, I think the authors and readers in Sri Lanka can greatly benefit from that. 

 A.R: What is your view about write to reconcile? Is literature powerful enough to bring the people together and open their eyes to see their commonalities and orient them to respect the differences and coexist peacefully? 

Definitely, yes! We have seen so many examples of how powerful literature can be to bring people together. I’ve seen the impact of this with my own book too. After reading my book, I’ve had readers tell me that they have let the dogs come inside their homes. Parents have told me they have promised to buy their kids pets after reading the impact Simbutu had on me. After reading TIK TIK, people have even donated money for animal welfare, and I’m very humbled by that. So yes, books can most certainly open your eyes to different perspectives and change you for the better.

A.R: In Sri Lanka, there are hundreds of budding authors; what are your suggestions for them?

I would say to keep writing, keep your views open and think beyond borders, don’t be shy to get the guidance, market properly and, beyond everything, to think big. 

A.R: Before you leave our readers, tell us a bit about Ragu, who is neither a writer nor an entrepreneur

An avid music lover and an even bigger pet lover! 

A.R: Any parting words?

No matter what, be consistent and focus on your goals; a river cuts through the rock not because of how powerful it is but because it keeps doing it day in and day out – consistently. And remember never to be afraid of dreaming big because big dreams can one day achieve great results. 

Sri Lanka is the birthplace of several multitalented, visionary and unconventional artists. They range from writers to performing artists who have swum across the ring of salty waters and show the world the irresistible might the island nation possesses. They are the magic coins of countries creative economies, the glue of the nation united future, and the ambassadors of Sri Lanka. 

He took up the challenge of changing the children of a nation by inculcating a culture of reading, and as a result, he founded the social enterprise called Pick A Book that has reached out to more than five countries so far. “The little Ideas grow bigger than your dreams and breed new ideas,” Raglan says, talking about his venture and the book he wrote recently. 

Inspired by the life struggle of his companion, Simbutu, his new release is a powerful story weaved with the utmost sensitivity. The Asian Review is pleased to introduce Ragulan Tharmakulasingam, the founder of Pick A Book International and author of Tik-Tik, for our readership across the world. 

A.R: You are an author, entrepreneur, and reader who has a keen interest in promoting a culture of reading in Sri Lanka and extending beyond the frontiers of the island nation; our readers can be very interested in your journey far.

I started off as a marketing graduate, and right after my graduation, I knew I wanted to go solo and start my own company. And that’s what I did. I started a marketing consulting company – Epitom Consulting, and because of my background in digital marketing, I branched out to a digital marketing company, too, under the name Epitom Digital. 

Pick a Book book club was initiated down the road as a fun office activity. The book club got everyone’s attention and started thriving. Pick a Book is currently operating in four countries and over 22 regions. 

As for my book TIK TIK, I wanted to tell the story of my incredible pet dog to the world. He left a great impact on me, and I wanted to share it with everyone. 

A.R: Pick a book is not only a reading club; it has much more than “Picking a book and read” it’s a platform where authors meet their readers, and readers meet readers… would you mind telling our readers about the venture as well as advantages of its membership. 

When we realized that the concept of Pick a Book was a winning one, we decided to expand on it. We wanted to make it more than just a book club. It’sIt’s a platform where readers get to revel more in books; share the joys of literature, discover great reads, and rekindle the habit of reading. And, you’re right, Pick a Book is more than just picking up a book; it’s this very own ecosystem for readers to get connected to other readers globally, develop leadership and public speaking skills, and gain valuable perspectives, among a plethora of other benefits

A.R: You recently unveiled your very first published work. Can you tell us about the storyline and what inspired you for writing it?

The story follows the life of my beloved little pet dog Simbutu, who led a remarkable life. The book depicts that unbreakable bond between a man and his pet dog. The bond I shared with Simbutu transcended the relationship of a human and a pet to that of a father and a son. Simbutu left such an impact on me that I wanted to immortalize him through my book. TIK TIK will give you a glimpse into the life Simbutu lived; his zest for life, intelligence, faithfulness, and outlook on life. Through my book, I hope Simbutu’sSimbutu’s story will teach my readers how to trust, love, face adversities with courage and live life to the fullest- just as Simbutu did. 

A.R: Can you tell us about the process of writing “Tik Tik”? Did you encounter blocks? If Yes, how did you overcome them?

Writing the book was pretty straightforward – from starting off with the key points of Simbutu’sSimbutu’s life to then writing, checking the manuscript, proofreading, and finally designing, printing, and marketing. As for encountering writer’s block, I didn’t find it to be much of an issue, seeing as it was a real-life story and every bit of Simbutu’sSimbutu’s life was etched in my memory. Simbutu had such an impact on me that it was easy to tell his story

A.R: As an author, what are the challenges you ahem encountered during your journey so far? How did you manage to tackle them? 

The process of getting the book written was the easiest part of the whole process. I was lucky enough to face minimal challenges comparatively. I did face some challenges down the road due to the Covid-19 virus and the restrictions imposed as a reason, but I would say I had it easier than most authors, and I’m grateful for that. 

A.R: Are you a plotter or a panster? How do you start a piece of writing, and how do you finish it?

Since the story of Simbutu was real and connected to my heart, I would say I’m a plotter as it didn’t take much time to narrate the story. The timelines and the storyline were already drawn out, and I just had to narrate it. A mental framework of the story was there in my head, and I just had to fill it in to complete the book. 

A:R: There is a polarised debate about e-books, audiobooks today. How do you see embracing technology as an author? 

I think it’s inevitable we embrace going digital with books too, and it’s a good thing, seeing as how books become more accessible through digital means and authors have the chance of a greater global audience. While technology is certainly making our lives easier, printed books are still dominating and growing in the playing field even up the reading frontier. I see the advantages of digitizing books, but I think we can all relate that there’s nothing quite like touching, smelling and feeling a book. That’sThat’s just my opinion. 

A.R: Social media has become more powerful than ever before, and none seems capable of stay away from them. How is your presence on social media? How do you use social media for promotion purposes?

I agree that social media is a powerful tool to get your word across and needs to be utilized. I used Facebook, Instagram, Linked In and my blog to promote my book, and it worked! The first 500 copies of my book were sold using just my personal social media platforms. 

As a digital marketer, I had the advantage of knowing how the gears worked. My team and I created pre-launch teasers, amped up launch hype and regularly updated post-launch posts like videos, images, GIFs, etc., and it all paid off very well.

A.R: As an author and entrepreneur based in Sri Lanka, how do you see the publishing landscape in Sri Lanka? What are the significant challenges the authors and readers encounter in the publishing ecosystem of the island nation? 

The publishing landscape can be more connected to authors and aspiring authors. That is one thing I noticed. It was a bit disappointing to see very little activity happening around the publishing landscape of Sri Lanka. There’sThere’s also very little awareness and hype of what authors and aspiring authors are doing. If publishers can up their game to match the enthusiasm of some of the publishing houses abroad, I think the authors and readers in Sri Lanka can greatly benefit from that. 

 A.R: What is your view about write to reconcile? Is literature powerful enough to bring the people together and open their eyes to see their commonalities and orient them to respect the differences and coexist peacefully? 

Definitely, yes! We have seen so many examples of how powerful literature can be to bring people together. I’ve seen the impact of this with my own book too. After reading my book, I’ve had readers tell me that they have let the dogs come inside their homes. Parents have told me they have promised to buy their kids pets after reading the impact Simbutu had on me. After reading TIK TIK, people have even donated money for animal welfare, and I’m very humbled by that. So yes, books can most certainly open your eyes to different perspectives and change you for the better.

A.R: In Sri Lanka, there are hundreds of budding authors; what are your suggestions for them?

I would say to keep writing, keep your views open and think beyond borders, don’t be shy to get the guidance, market properly and, beyond everything, to think big. 

A.R: Before you leave our readers, tell us a bit about Ragu, who is neither a writer nor an entrepreneur

An avid music lover and an even bigger pet lover! 

A.R: Any parting words?

No matter what, be consistent and focus on your goals; a river cuts through the rock not because of how powerful it is but because it keeps doing it day in and day out – consistently. And remember never to be afraid of dreaming big because big dreams can one day achieve great results. 

Categories: Interviews

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