Congratulations on the publication of your first children’s book Brave Adventures, Little Girl. Your story is about a young girl called Anika. Can you introduce us to her?
Anika is my 12-year-old daughter but the book was written when she was four years old. She is a magical soul (yes I’m biased!), beautiful, gentle, funny kind and crazy in a good way, and the book is about her special relationship with my father and her grandfather.
What do you hope young readers and their parents will take away from your story?
The story talks of how we all feel nervous sometimes especially when we try new things and are scared we might fail. The lesson is that fear should not stop us from trying new things because just by trying we win and sometimes we have the most extraordinary adventures on the way.
Why did you decide to explore the relationship of grandparent and grandchild?
My daughter was my father’s first grandchild and they had a very special bond. She also shares this unique bond with each of her beautiful grandparents. They love her unconditionally and I think children understand that the love grandparents have for them protects them but also helps them thrive and grow, especially as they learn from them. It is something very special to see.
Children’s author is only one of your many roles, you also have a theatre company that appears to be very invested in driving social change and educating young adults creatively, what makes you passionate about investing in younger generations?
It sounds like a cliche but young people are most certainly our future. I think they are our teachers just as we are theirs. Around the world such amazing young people like Malalia and Greta are already leading the way. It’s a crazy world sometimes and we owe it to them to help them find their voice to create and sustain positive change.
Do you think we need to be publishing more stories that educate children around other cultures and religions?
It’s funny because when I wrote the book I didn’t think about diversity in the story told being a theme, but what has been really lovely is so many people commenting on that and how particularly people from diverse backgrounds have found it resonates for them for that reason. I think it’s very important for children to see themselves reflected in the stories they read and see so yes this is absolutely vital. It’s also important because it teaches all children no matter how different we seem on the surface underneath we are all the same.
Can you share with us some of the children’s books that have made an impact on you?
Some of my favourite books from childhood I rediscovered when my daughter was little. Velveteen Rabbit is a classic but I think still resonates in its themes or self image, being different, loneliness, belonging and friendship. Books like that are so important to teach children we all experience the same feelings sometimes, and that it’s okay to sometimes feel sad, because with the help of those who love us, we can always find a way through.
Iresha is a proud mother of a gorgeous daughter. She is a senior lawyer, playwright, and now, a children’s book author with her whimsical work Brave Adventures, Little Girl.
Her accomplished legal career spans twenty years, taking her from magic circle legal firms, to work as a Ministerial Adviser, and now as a Senior Executive and Chief Legal Officer for a 6000-staff health service. Her career has involved considerable pro bono work, including as a Director of the Law Institute of Victoria, and a One Girl Ambassador, and she is regularly invited to speak at leadership and legal forums.
Iresha’s theatre company, 9minds, has produced several acclaimed main-stage plays in Australia, starting with the youth play triumph Angels with Dirty Faces, which she co-wrote. The company has also spear-headed Arts’-based social justice advocacy with a lauded Australian get out the vote video campaign for marriage equality.
In recent years, Iresha and her family have focused on the redevelopment of her late father’s childhood home in Sri Lanka to a boutique hotel, The Notary’s House, which she hopes will attract artists from across the world. The house, her father and daughter all have starring roles in Brave Adventures, Little Girl.