Artist, Author And Social Advocate Shyanah Kugaleswaran Shares Her Life Journey Which Culminated In Two Books – “White Fire” & “Life Line”

Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how that played a part to become an author and artist?

As a child and till this day, I identify as an empath because I was always sensitive and in tune with the world around me. I felt emotions and energies on a very deep level, and at a fragile age I was already very perceptive and cognisant of world issues. I picked up on others’ emotions, and because I was so young, I didn’t truly understand how this affected me and the way I showed up in social settings or in my personal relationships. There was a lot happening internally, that didn’t quite manifest outwardly. I was also very shy and introverted, and I preferred activities by myself. I had such a vivid imagination, loved getting creative, and always identified with the word ‘dreamer.’ You’d find little kindergartner shy at the painting station on any given day. Though I was very introspective, an abstract thinker and had a lot to say, I hardly ever shared that part of me with anyone else. 

As I got older, writing became a form of healing and expression and I also solidified my art technique in all my work. My art and writing became a form of commentary on all aspects; the physical, social, spiritual and mental realms of reality. Writing allowed me to see the reality of life and art allowed me to see the magic of it. 

What was the inspiration behind writing “White Fire”?  What kind of reception did the book get from its readers?

The inspiration behind “White Fire” was when I truly grasped and experienced the feeling of turning pain into power. There was a point in my life, that could have broken me – and it genuinely wasn’t a serious matter at all, but being a sensitive soul, I thought I’d break. Instead, I felt an energy within myself – as if for the first time, I was able to recognize the pain and yet still not be destroyed by it but become a better version of myself through it. Turning my pain into power, was finding my voice again through my words and recognizing my sensitivity as my power rather than my weakness. 

“White Fire” was received very well by the readers. It’s very relatable and keeps you turning the page, but also brings to light many emotions that aren’t often spoken about and topic matters that aren’t really discussed either – which a lot of readers not only appreciated but felt validated by.

How long did it take you to write this book?  What was the most challenging part about the journey?

The idea of “White Fire” conceptualized in 2016 and it was released in 2020. The most challenging part about writing the book was that as I evolved and grew through life experiences, I often went back and changed a lot of the work. “White Fire” went through three re-writes, which means in its evolution it was three different books. I had to learn to stop doing that and to start thinking of each poetry and prose as a moment in time. 

Is writing something that you want to pursue as a full-time endeavour?  If not – what do you do full-time?

My full-time career is as a Mental Health, Addictions and Justice Worker. At this very moment in my life, I don’t think I would ever give up one of my passions for the other. Writing is part of who I am already, and it takes place organically without it being restricted to a certain timeframe. 

Can you tell us about a failure you’ve experienced in the last 5 years and what you learned from it?

Failure. I feel like it’s a very shallow, yet heavy word. I think for a little while I felt like a failure in the eyes of a few people in my life, but I knew I was doing what was best for me. I took a year off before returning to school again to pursue another program after completing my undergraduate degree. In that one year, I didn’t have a job, wasn’t in school, didn’t pursue any volunteering, didn’t have much of a social life, didn’t paint or write anything. It was a period of stillness for me. A lot of people would blatantly share their opinions about my life or feel bad for my situation. I let them think whatever, because I was already committed and passionate about what I wanted to pursue and understood that time was needed for that growth to take place. In hindsight, I don’t see any of that as a failure, because I can appreciate it now. But the world will make you feel like you’re failing when in reality, there are many pieces coming together and only you can truly see your life unfolding. 

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