Thisuri Wanniarachchi’s interview to the Sunday Times, May 2010

Colombo Streets

Thisuri Wanniarachchi wrote Colombo Streets when she was 14 years old. Now 16, the young author has the world in front of her. A student of St. Bridget’s Convent, Thisuri describes herself as an open person, one who is very thankful for a caring set of friends and a supportive family.An avid sports fan, Thisuri loves reading biographies of sports personalities and plays tennis. “I’m also a huge fan of rugby and I always bother my dad to take me to watch matches,” she says.

Her interests include film making, and she hopes to become a film director one day. This July, Thisuri will attend the Young Writers’ workshop which is organised by The Kenyon Review of Kenyon College in Ohio, USA. Join Funday Times as we have a little chat with the young author.

Q: Tell us a little about Colombo Streets. Why did you choose to have your two main characters – Sara and Indeevari – come from such different backgrounds?A: Yes, the backgrounds they come from seem to contrast. And I felt that it seemed to bring out a lot of important messages. Colombo Streets has 23 chapters.

It’s the inner voice of the suffering children and youth in Sri Lanka. Cancer is a theme that I found very sensitive and interesting. I began writing the novel with an intention to write a story that would inspire cancer patients, to encourage them to be strong, make sure I leave them with some hope. But, it all changed.

The story turned out to revolve around many other themes like war, terrorism and many other themes.

It happened very naturally and it was hard not to let them flow into the story because at the time I wrote Colombo Streets, things like terrorism and poverty were day to day issues for us Sri Lankans.

So it was hard not to talk about it. For that purpose I had to use the character of Indeevari.

Q : Some authors slave over the plot, others over the conclusion. What was the hardest part of writing the book for you?

A: It was a fun book to write, certainly. I was so happy the entire time I was writing it. I couldn’t stop smiling every time I finished a chapter. I grew very fond of all the characters perhaps, J-Lo the most.

The characters were what made me happy and what drew me into the story. But now I feel that I should have been a bit more concerned about editing the book in a proper manner because I still find little typing/spelling errors here and there. Apart from the fun, the book was so inspiring.

Q : What do you enjoy most about writing? How do you find time for your writing?

A: I am amazed by the patience I see in myself while I write. In real life I lack a lot of patience but when it comes to writing I have a totally different personality.

It’s hard to find time to write but, I try to write at least a page or two every day. Most of my afternoons and the weekends are spent on training and classes so I write mostly at night.

I had to spend a lot of time that I should have spent on my studies, to write the book.

But, the amounts of comments and e-mails I have received from my readers since the day the book was launched make me feel that my effort was worth it.

Q: Are there any authors who you’ve learnt from and whose books you would recommend to other aspiring writers?

A: I think Paulo Coelho’s writing has inspired me very much. It’s got a great depth and a lot of underlying meaning. And it’s one of a kind. I also like Arundati Roy’s work. Her writing style is simple and
interesting.

Q: What are you working on now? Should we expect another book soon?

A:Yes, I am working on another novel. It contains a lot of my personal experiences. (So does Colombo Streets.) I hope to launch it at the end of this year.

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