An Interview With YA Author Ned Vizzini

Author Ned Vizzini published his first book when he was still a teen and also wrote It's Kind of a Funny Story which was made into a movie last fall. Dosomething.org got to ask him a few questions about the role that books had during his teen years and what books have inspired him to do.

Did a book ever get you through a hard time as a teen?

In terms of getting me through a hard time, the books that helped most were books I discovered later in life. Paul Auster's memoir Hand to Mouth convinced me I could make it as a writer. The Noonday Demon convinced me I could beat depression. The book that may have helped most when I was a teen was the Dungeons & Dragons Al-Qadim rulebook. That kept my brain occupied when I was 13 and people were treating me like crap.

What celebrity do you think would play the protagonist in a movie version of your latest book ?

My latest book is called The Other Normals and it comes out on September 25, 2012. Jumping to a movie adaptation is like putting the jet before the horse but I understand that it's a good parlor game. The protagonist is named Perry Eckert and he's 15, short, with a bowl haircut. So Asa Butterfield.

What were your favorite books as a teenager?

I found this book of George Orwell essays when I was 12 that I devoured. I think it was A Collection of Essays but it might have been a different one. I know it had "Such, Such Were The Joys" in it and that remains the best thing about high school I've ever read. But I also loved "Why I Write" and "Shooting An Elephant." Orwell just struck me as a person who knew how to write and who wasn't afraid to share his secrets without getting all mystical, which I think is a barrier to entry. Other favorites were Stephen King's It, Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, and William Sleator's Interstellar Pig. RIP everybody but King.

Has a book ever inspired you to do some thing for a cause?

After I read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, I cut down on McDonald's. I used to eat there twice a week. Now it's once a month. Does that count? That can't count.

What can you do?