By Aida El-Hajjar, age 11
Arnay Agarwal is a 12-year-old published author, radio host, founder of the Storytelling Society of India and IndyKids journalist from Bangalore, India.
Aida: How and when did you develop your passion for writing?
Arnay: I think I was born with a tremendous interest in books. Books pulled me more than any toy ever did. My mother always supported me in my reading habits. I started reading the same book many times as we could not afford to buy [new] books every day. [As I was] reading the same book many times, I started to become a critic. Sometimes I felt that the characters of a book were not behaving the way I would want them to. Sometimes I wished for a different ending than what the author had decided. Then, over a period of time, I started to pen down the stories, so that I could fix the ending the way I wished. I decided to write my own short stories by the age of 7, and that’s how my writing journey started.
Aida: Why do you think social justice reporting is important as a kid journalist?
Arnay: Social justice reporting is important for me as a kid journalist because there are many issues in the world that have cropped up in the last few years and I feel that this generation of kids has a responsibility to report on these situations, to bring them to light in the real world so other people can be aware of the situation and take action against them. I can make a difference and play my part in making the world a better place.
Aida: What do you hope to accomplish in the coming years as a writer?
Arnay: In the following years as a writer, I hope to write on issues that have been present in the world for a long time and to help in contributing to solve them. I also want my writings to make an impact in the local communities and in the world. I believe change starts locally and spreads slowly to the rest of the world. I want to make people understand what issues are present in the world so that I can inspire other people to take a stand.
Aida: What have you learned in your career in journalism, and what have you learned as a writer for IndyKids?
Arnay: As a writer for IndyKids, I have met many other writers, and I have learned from their experiences and from their knowledge, too. I have learned many skills from IndyKids, such as writing efficiently and formally. I also feel that from my career in journalism, I will not only learn about social issues in my country, but I will also be able to learn more about countries around the world. I am able to learn about people, societies, cultures, and I feel I have become much smarter and aware because of journalism. IndyKids’ teaching methodology during the sessions and mentorship has made the learning very easy. One-on-one sessions with mentors are extremely helpful. The support from the editor is very helpful and appreciated.
Aida: What issues do you feel most passionate about as a kid journalist?
Arnay: I feel passionate about issues such as the water shortage in the world. As a kid, I feel like the world is in chaos and it is up to our generation to solve this chaos. And one of the most underestimated problems is the water shortage in the world. Many more places than before are experiencing droughts.
Aida: As you write, what do you hope others will get from your writing?
Arnay: I hope that when others read my writing, they are inspired to use their imagination to explore worlds that they never thought existed. I feel like many kids nowadays do not read books because they think they are boring, and I hope to create books that are so interesting that they will keep kids interested for many hours.
Aida: Who has most inspired you on your journey in writing?
Arnay: I have been inspired by the millions of authors that work hard every day to write the books that their readers enjoy. I am inspired by all the writers that write endlessly, not because it’s a job, but because they enjoy it.
I also am inspired by my mother, who has helped me to continue writing even when I felt writing is boring, but then my mom showed me what I had forgotten—the wonders of writing—and she supported my every step. She is my inspiration.