by Smriti Daniel
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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
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