Interview by Smriti Daniel
In this Funday Times interview we speak with the 12 year old author of "City Lights" Udani Sheshadri Kottearchchi. Sheshadri (as she prefers to be known) writes both prose and poetry and has won many awards for creative writing. She is also an accomplished artist and actress.

Q : Tell us about your book ‘City Lights’.
A : I type a lot on the computer. I was typing a short story, which lasted for about two pages. After I read through it, I realised that the story would be a lot interesting and creative if I added more
characters and happenings. The result was my first novel! The story did not take long to write since the basics had already been covered. It was quite fun, actually!

Q : Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
A : I like Alicia the best. She has a bubbly, carefree personality and a positive attitude.

Q: When did you begin writing, what inspired you?
A : I first wrote an essay about a trip to Nuwara Eliya and I sent it to the English newspapers. A few weeks later, I saw it published in the Children's Corner. My family was really pleased since I was only in Grade 2 when I wrote the essay and they encouraged me to write. The pride of seeing my work in print just made me want to keep on writing.

Q: What kind of impact do you want to make with your writing?
A : Writing makes a great impact on people, without them realising it. It changes ideas and sometimes, even personalities. I do not expect my work to have a tremendous impact yet, but maybe in the future, my writings may change people a great deal. I want to make people aware of the suffering around us in this modern world and the impact poverty has on children. Now, I do get complimented on my work and how emotional they are. It makes me feel good to know that my work has made an impact, even in a small way!

Q: What do you most enjoy about writing? What do you find most difficult?
A : I enjoy writing because it is a great way of putting ideas on paper. You can control things, make things happen, do things the way you want; something that is rarely done in real life. The difficult thing about writing is not being able to put all those great ideas onto paper at once!

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A : I want to be a doctor, an artist and an author. Nevertheless, I want to be a worthy citizen to my country.

Q: What kind of books do you yourself read?
A : My choices change as I grow. I used to like Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, and I still enjoy their work. I've switched to Eva Ibbotson ('Star of Kazan' and 'Journey to the River Sea') and Jacqueline Wilson ('Lola Rose' and 'Midnight'). I reach out for a wider range of books now. I suppose in a few years, my choices may vary again!

Q : Do you think children may be the best ones to write children's books?
A : I suppose in a way children are suited to write books for children. As children themselves, they would know just what interests others of their age. However, in a way, adults too write good books for children. It doesn't matter who writes the book for a child, as long as the result is a valuable book, which every child will love and cherish.

Q : How have your family and friends supported you?
A : My family in particular have been very supportive. My mother (Shehara Sirisena) and my father (Lalith Kottearachchi) have encouraged me to follow my dreams and have never let me down. My grandparents too have been very supportive and I am forever in debt to them. My friends too have been very good to me.

Q : Any plans for future books?
A : I'm definitely never going to stop writing! I have already begun my second and third book and I am hoping to have them published soon!

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