January 19, 2012
Bio

Ned Vizzini is the author of It's Kind of a Funny Story, Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah.... He has written for The New York Times, The Daily Beast, and season 2 of MTV's Teen Wolf. His work has been translated into seven languages and will soon be in Czech. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. His next novel, The Other Normals, will be published in fall 2012.

Ned Vizzini | FAQ
FAQ - Last Updated 11/18/11
(90 questions! Try "Find" on this page to get what you're looking for)
    General Questions
  1. Can I have information on you for a report?
  2. Are you on Facebook/Twitter etc.?
  3. Can you come to speak at my school/college/organization?
  4. Can you sign my book?
  5. How can I be a writer? (part 1: writing skill)
  6. How can I be a writer? (part 2: writing business)
  7. Can you help me get published?
  8. What is your address?
  9. Isn't it hard to write about your family and friends?
  10. Are you writing more books?
  11. Who are your favorite authors / What authors inspired you ?
  12. What is your favorite book of the ones you've written?

  13. It's Kind of A Funny Story Questions
  14. How much of It's Kind of a Funny Story is true?
  15. Are they making an It's Kind of a Funny Story movie?
  16. Did IKOAFS really take you like a month to write?
  17. Are the characters in the hospital real?
  18. How does Craig get better so quickly?
  19. In what year did the events that IKOAFS is based on take place?

  20. Be More Chill Questions
  21. Is there going to be a Be More Chill movie?
  22. Where did you get the idea for the squip?
  23. At the end of Be More Chill, do Christine and Jeremy hook up?
  24. Is the squip real?
  25. How much of Be More Chill is based on your real life?
  26. Is there going to be a Be More Chill sequel?

  27. Teen Angst? Naaah... Questions
  28. How much of Teen Angst is real?
  29. Can I have a Wormwhole demo?
  30. Did you ever meet the girl who kicked your backpack down the stairs?
  31. Are you still with Judith from Teen Angst? Naaah...?
  32. What are the differences between the various versions of Teen Angst? Naaah...?
  33. Did you do the pictures in Teen Angst?
  34. Regarding the footnote about Rude Boys: did you ever figure that out?

  35. Reader-Submitted Questions
  36. Why do you like writing so much?
  37. What obstacles did you have to overcome to write your books?
  38. What is your favorite thing to do other than writing and reading?
  39. Your birth place and date?
  40. Do you have siblings?
  41. What college did you go to?
  42. When did you write your books? How much time does it take for you to complete a book?
  43. What would you say is your style/type of writing?
  44. Have you been given any awards?
  45. Where are you currently living?
  46. Why did you go to the hospital (It's Kind of a Funny Story)?
  47. Will there be a sequel to It's Kind of a Funny Story?
  48. What ever happened to Attack of the Killer Turtle?
  49. I am feeling depressed. Can you help? Do you have recommendations for other books like It's Kind of a Funny Story that might help?
  50. Why was Be More Chill set in Metuchen, NJ? Have you ever been to Metuchen?
  51. In the snowboarding story in Teen Angst? Naaah..., you say you put your left foot forward when you slide, but the guy says you're goofy footed. Isn't it the other way around?
  52. Where did you get the idea of the brain maps (It's Kind of a Funny Story)?
  53. What were you like as a kid?
  54. Who was your favorite author when you were a kid?
  55. How did you get into writing? When did you start writing?
  56. What's a normal day like for you?
  57. Where do you get your ideas?
  58. What one piece of literature has affected you the most as a writer?
  59. Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?
  60. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
  61. What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?
  62. What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?
  63. What's your favorite book you wrote?
  64. What's your favorite food?
  65. What nationality are you?
  66. What was your first book?
  67. Why did you become an author instead of something else?
  68. How do you seem so in touch with teenagers today?
  69. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  70. How do you write such interesting stories?
  71. What inspires you to write?
  72. How long have you been writing?
  73. How do you come up with your titles?
  74. What are you reading right now?
  75. Did you take part in the development of the It's Kind of a Funny Story film? Did you choose the actors?
  76. Did you stay in touch with any of the patients you met in the hospital (It's Kind of a Funny Story)?
  77. Would you ever consider writing a book from a female's point of view?
  78. Did you have anything to do with the film Limitless? Do you feel like Limitless bit off your premise for Be More Chill?
  79. What are ten important dates in your life and what happened on those dates?
  80. Was your writing impacted by the neighborhood you lived in?
  81. Who are your parents?
  82. Did your parents encourage/support your writing?
  83. Are your parents similar to the depictions of the parents in the book It's Kind Of A Funny Story
  84. What was your inspiration for the book Be More Chill?
  85. What made you want to share your high school experiences with the world?
  86. What made you want to use your experiences to encourage youth?
  87. What were some of the largest obstacles you had to overcome in your early life as well as adulthood?
  88. What themes/subjects do you write about?
  89. Have your books ever been banned or challenged?
  90. How did you first break into the literary "scene"?
  91. What was it like to have your first story published?
  92. I read that you are now working on Teen Wolf for MTV. When you go in to write for television, how is it different from when you go in to write a book?
  93. How do you fight writer's block?
  94. What do you believe makes a good story?

1. Can I have information on you for a report?

Yes. Here are three places to start:

  1. my bio, located on the top left of this page

  2. my speaking bio on Gotham Artists' website, which is accurate as of late 2010

  3. the the reader-submitted questions, which are all from real readers and which probably cover your question





top
 

2. Are you on Facebook/Twitter etc.?

I am on Facebook. Yes, you can friend me, even though it says "Please only send this request if you know Ned personally."

I am not on Twitter. I will join Twitter if and only if I reach 5000 friends on Facebook.

Here is a complete list of the other things I'm on.


top
 

3. Can you come to speak at my school/college/organization?

Yes. I have 11+ years of speaking experience. I have spoken at over 200 colleges, high schools, libraries and organizations throughout the world.

I speak about writing and mental health in three separate programs:


  1. "How Not to Go Crazy in College", an auditorium talk about mental health and stress management keyed off the real story behind It's Kind of a Funny Story

  2. "How Not to Go Crazy in High School", an auditorium talk for high school students about mental health (auditorium talks are appropriate for any size audience, from 30 to 30,000)

  3. "From Personal to Published", an intensive classroom workshop that covers the skills and business of writing (for 12-18 students per session)


I do Q&A; and sign books at all events. I prefer it if my books are available for purchase at events. Sponsoring organizations may purchase books at a 40% discount and return unsold books for a full refund. DVDs are also available for sale at events through local retailers.

In order to book me at your college, high school, library or organization, please contact Gotham Artists at 646 873 6601:



top
 

4. Can you sign my book?

Yes. Please send the book along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Ned Vizzini
PO Box 39941
Los Angeles, CA 90039


I will sign the book and return it to you within two months. If you have a question about how to send a self-addressed stamped envelope, check out this guide.


top
 

5. How can I be a writer? (part 1: writing skill)

Being a writer is really about two things: skill and business. The skill of being a writer involves two aspects, talent and craft. I can't teach you talent; you either have it or you don't. But a lot of skill is in craft, which comes from practice, dedication, and fear of death. Here are some resources to help with your writing craft:


  1. On Writing by Stephen King (2000), full of the best advice from the best guide you'll never meet

  2. "kill your darlings", a piece of advice from William Faulkner that was repeated to me by my father

  3. "From Personal to Published", my writing workshop program



top
 

6. How can I be a writer? (part 2: writing business)

If you've read my advice about writing skill, then you can try and tackle the second part of the beast: business.

By business I mean the thorny question of how you get your writing out in the world.

My first piece of advice is: DON'T WRITE A BOOK. Many young writers, including many who email me, start out by trying to write books when they are 13. If you try to write a full book when you are 13, chances are you will flame out, never finish it, and abandon writing entirely.

Instead, start by writing short stories. I believe the easiest short stories to write are short tales about your own life.

This is how I started. I began writing when I was 15 for a local newspaper in Manhattan called New York Press; I wrote an essay about my high school and sent it to the address I found in the front of the paper; the editor got back to me a few months later and told me he liked my stuff but it was too long, so I started writing 1000- to 1200-word essays that were published in the paper and became the bulk of my first book Teen Angst? Naaah....

Here are some outlets for short pieces:


  1. Teen Ink, a teen literary magazine and website

  2. New Youth Connections, a general interest teen magazine (New York only)

  3. the painted brain, a peer-driven campaign to eradicate the stigma of mental illness with a printed magazine component (LA-based, but open to submissions)


If you'd like more advice about writing business, please bring me to your school or organization:


(Note: if you've already written a book and you want to publish it, get a copy of this book:

Writer's Market 2011


It lists every agent and publisher you can imagine. Send your stuff off to them with a respectful cover letter and see what happens. Here is an example of a good cover letter:

Dear Editor:

Enclosed are the first three chapters plus an outline of my 85,000-word science fiction novel, Voodoo Robot. It is [insert here a one- or two-sentence summary of the basic setup and story arc]. This is my first novel. [OR: I have the following publication credits.] [Optionally, and only if EXTREMELY pertinent: In addition, I have the following related credentials or experience.] I also enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. [OR: You need not return the manuscript.]

Thank you for considering my submission. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
[your name here]
)


top
 

7. Can you help me get published?

Sorry, no. Not any more than with the writing skill and writing business advice.

top
 

8. What is your address?

Ned Vizzini
PO Box 39941
Los Angeles, CA 90039


top
 

9. Isn't it hard to write about your family and friends?

Yes, it can be difficult to write about people close to me. I solve this problem by writing fiction and basing characters on real people instead of actually writing about real people. And I always change their names! I can't emphasize how important that is.

top
 

10. Are you writing more books?

Yes. My next book, a young adult novel called The Other Normals, will be published in fall 2012 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins.

The Other Normals is a very funny story about about a late bloomer who unexpectedly turns into an epic warrior at summer camp.

Its publication was announced on March 21, 2011 in Publishers Weekly.

It will be published in hardcover. I'm beyond thrilled about it. I will reveal more about it as the release date approaches on this site and my Facebook.



top
 

11. Who are your favorite authors / What authors inspired you ?

I'd like to preface this with a story. The first time I ever interviewed anyone for New York Press, it was Damon Che, drummer for math-rock band Don Caballero, and I asked him "Who are your influences?"

He answered: "That's a stupid f___i__ question that lazy journalists ask when they can't think of anything better to say."

I have to say, I appreciated it. I never asked it again. The reason that it's a bad question is because if you're active in any kind of art, your influences are constantly changing, and it's tough to even remember all the things you like, let alone catalog and rank them.

That being said, here's a list off the top of my head:


  • Michael Crichton Jurassic Park, Sphere, Congo... everything up to Airframe is classic, and I like some of his later stuff too

  • Stephen King It, Gerald's Game

  • George Orwell Down and Out in Paris and London, "Such, Such Were the Joys", "Shooting An Elephant"

  • Jonathan Safran Foer Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  • Tom Wolfe A Man In Full

  • Jerry Stahl Permanent Midnight

  • Jonathan Ames Wake Up, Sir!, What's Not To Love?

  • Jim Knipfel Quitting the Nairobi Trio, The Buzzing, Noogie's Time to Shine

  • Nick McDonnel Twelve

  • Nick Antosca Midnight Picnic, Fires

  • Marty Beckerman Death to All Cheerleaders, Generation S.L.U.T., Dumbocracy, The Heming Way

  • James Frey A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning

  • George Tabb Playing Left Field, Surfing Armageddon

  • Jim Goad Shit Magnet

  • Paul Auster The New York Trilogy, Leviathan, The Music of Chance, Oracle Night, The Brooklyn Follies, Travels in the Scriptorium, Hand To Mouth

  • Jonathan Lethem Fortress of Solitude, Motherless Brooklyn

  • Dave Eggers You Shall Know Our Velocity, What Is The What

  • Miles Davis Miles: The Autobiography

  • Slash Slash

  • Charles Cross Heavier Than Heaven

  • Nathaniel Philbrick In The Heart of the Sea

  • Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children

  • Petronius Satyricon

  • Neal Pollack Alternadad, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature


top
 

12. What is your favorite book of the ones you've written?

My favorite book of mine is my forthcoming YA novel The Other Normals (to be published fall 2012 by HarperCollins), because I want you to buy it.

top
 

13. How much of It's Kind of a Funny Story is true?

85% of It's Kind of a Funny Story is true. I based it on my own experience in Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn in late 2004. I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation like Craig in the book. Once I left the hospital, I started writing about it, but I fictionalized some important elements. Here is what I did:


  1. I changed the names of the characters.

  2. I changed the age of Craig, who is 15 when he goes into the hospital (as opposed to my age at the time, 23).

  3. I added the love triangle.



top
 

14. Are they making an It's Kind of a Funny Story movie?

Yes, IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY has been released as a major motion picture from Focus Features! It is now available on DVD and BluRay.



The movie is directed by Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden, who made the award-winning films Half Nelson (2006) and Sugar (2009). It stars:


  • Keir Gilchrist as Craig Gilner

  • Zach Galifianakis as Bobby

  • Emma Roberts as Noelle

  • ZoŽ Kravitz as Nia

  • Viola Davis as Dr. Minerva

  • Lauren Graham as Craig's mom (Lynn in the movie)

  • Jim Gaffigan as Craig's dad (George in the movie)

  • Aasif Mandvi as Dr. Mahmoud

  • Jeremy Davies as Smitty


Movie links:


  • my individual set reports from the shooting of the movie
    (Nov. 2009 - Feb. 2010, Brooklyn, NY):
    1. "The Bends, the Brooklyn Bridge, & an Unheard-of Canadian Band -- on the set of IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY"

    2. "Marshall McLuhan and Movie Magic -- On the Set of IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, Part 2"

    3. "Crust Punk and Terror -- a final report from IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY"

  • Official It's Kind of a Funny Story Facebook Page

  • IKOAFS Movie Music Ideas Nov. 09
    from my blog (contains suggestions for the film soundtrack from myself and readers; of these suggestions, "Happy Today" by the Wowz was used in the actual film)

  • Itís Kind Of A Funny Story Movie Soundtrack
    from soundtrack-movie.com, an in depth discussion of the film soundtrack, including scene-by-scene identification of songs

  • The It's Kind of a Funny Story Movie/Character Chart
    from my blog

  • TIFF 2010 Interview: ďItís Kind of a Funny StoryĒ author, Ned Vizzini
    from gordonandthewhale.com

  • IMDB page



top
 

15. Did IKOAFS really take you like a month to write?

Yes, It's Kind of a Funny Story was written during the roughly month-long period indicated at the back of the book.

top
 

16. Are the characters in the hospital real?

Yes, the characters in It's Kind of a Funny Story were based on real people. In some cases I changed races around, or combined two people into one character.

top
 

17. How does Craig get better so quickly?

Some people feel that the ending of It's Kind of A Funny Story is too tidy, that Craig "gets better" too soon. They'd like to know how he "gets better" so quickly.

My response is that Craig didn't get "better" as in "better -- his depression is cured." He got better as in "better -- he's not going to consider suicide again." He sorted out some (and only some) things in his... life like I did.

"The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man. The objective world remains what it was, but, because of a shift [emphasis mine] of emphasis within the subject, is beheld as though transformed."
     Joseph Cambell The Hero with a Thousand Faces


top
 

18. In what year did the events that IKOAFS is based on take place?

The true-life hospital stay that inspired It's Kind of a Funny Story took place in November 2004.

top
 

19. Is there going to be a Be More Chill movie?

Currently there are no plans for a BE MORE CHILL film. However, the book has been optioned for film in the past; it may be optioned for film or TV again in the future.

top
 

20. Where did you get the idea for the squip?

I got the idea for the "squip" in Be More Chill simply by seeing so many products advertised around me that promised to make people cool. I thought, "What if there were just a pill that made you cool?"

I fleshed this idea out in a short story I wrote in college and turned it into the Be More Chill novel subsequently.

Also, there is a band called Drunk Horse that has a song called "AM/FM Shoes" that helped inspire the squip. "AM/FM Shoes" is about a guy who feels like a loser, except he has special shoes that play the radio, and when he puts them on, he becomes the coolest guy around. ("AM/FM Shoes" is from Drunk Horse's 2001 double-EP Tanning Salon/Biblical Proportions.)


top
 

21. At the end of Be More Chill, do Christine and Jeremy hook up?

The end of Be More Chill is what we fancy-pants writers call an "implied resolution." I thought it was an interesting ending, but many people don't like it. For a while, when I visited schools and people asked if Jeremy and Christine hooked up, I said, "Yes, but they probably don't stay together. Relationships in high school are usually chaotic and often don't last." But that tended to make people sad. So now I just tell them: "YES! Jeremy and Christine hook up and fall in love and have lots of babies!"

top
 

22. Is the squip real?

No, squips are not real. If you're asking this, you might be thinking of the "Squip? Google It" campaign.

When Be More Chill came out, I and a friend of mine ran a fairly insane publicity campaign where we invented a whole universe of websites that made it seem as if the squip were real. The websites were coupled with "Squip? Google It" stickers that we gave away. Readers put these stickers up and took pictures of them.

The squip campaign ran into some issues:


  1. People criticized us for exploiting kids, because in many cases the people signing up for squips on websites thought they were real.

  2. Managing the "Squip? Google It" t-shirts and stickers and the large amount of email proved very difficult.

  3. I got very depressed (this was the summer before I went into the hospital).



For those reasons, the squip campaign never quite "tipped" into the phenomenon we hoped it would be and closed in 2005.

However, it had some positive results:


  • We were featured in this New York Times article:


  • We compiled this great video.

  • We started message boards to communicate withe the "squippers" and these boards became a vibrant and unique community. The highest-posting members of the boards are still given the status "Squip Sherrif":




top
 

23. How much of Be More Chill is based on your real life?

65% of Be More Chill is based on my real life. The infected nipple-ring incident, for example, really happened to me.

top
 

24. Is there going to be a Be More Chill sequel?

I very much appreciate all of the requests for one, but sadly, no, I do not plan to write a Be More Chill sequel.

top
 

25. How much of Teen Angst is real?

95% of the stories in Teen Angst? Naaah... are real. I just changed some names and dates. I also combined a few people.

top
 

26. Can I have a Wormwhole demo?

No need to ask! As explained in the afterward to the 2010 edition of Teen Angst? Naaah..., I discovered the Wormwhole demo after it spent many years in exile. The video for Wormwhole's single "Pants in the Mail" is here:



The audio files for both of Wormwhole's songs are here.


top
 

27. Did you ever meet the girl who kicked your backpack down the stairs?

No, I never met the girl who kicked my backpack down the stairs as told in Teen Angst? Naaah.... I do not know if she ever read the book.

top
 

28. Are you still with Judith from Teen Angst? Naaah...?

No.

top
 

29. What are the differences between the various versions of Teen Angst? Naaah...?

2010 Edition


  • published by Random House

  • trade paperback

  • contains afterward written by me in late 2009

  • footnotes on the bottom of each page

  • text is slightly updated from 2002 edition

  • no illustrations



2002 Edition


  • published by Random House

  • mass-market paperback

  • footnotes on the bottom of each page

  • text is slightly updated from 2000 edition

  • contains illustrations



2000 Edition


  • original edition and text of the book

  • published by Free Spirit Publishing

  • trade paperback

  • footnotes on the sides of the pages

  • contains illustrations



top
 

30. Did you do the pictures in Teen Angst?

I did not make the pictures in the early editions of Teen Angst? Naaah.... They were made by an artist named Christopher Schons.

top
 

31. Regarding the footnote about Rude Boys: did you ever figure that out?

During the 1970s 2 Tone ska revival in England, the terms rude boy and rude girl were often used to describe fans of that genre. "Rude Boy" has since become a popular song by Rhianna. I was called a rude boy at summer camp approximately 15 years before this song.

top
 

32. Why do you like writing so much?

Sometimes I don't like writing at all. It is incredibly frustrating when you are trying to write but it isn't coming out correctly. Your brain spins and you sit at the computer and go numb. So the rewards have to be great. Fortunately they are.

For the reasons why I enjoy writing, I defer to George Orwell, who wrote the following reasons for writing in his essay "Why I Write" (1946):

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose.


Only for me me, (ii) is more important than (i). When I get a sentence right, or when my writing is going well, it feels better than anything on Earth. And I have another reason:

(v) Connecting with readers. To know through letters and emails that I have had experiences similar to other people, and to thank them for their support and kindness.


top
 

33. What obstacles did you have to overcome to write your books?

I was very lucky in that I did not face that many of the professional obstacles that many authors face while getting their books published. I started writing young (for New York Press); this writing was seen by Free Spirit Publishing; they put out Teen Angst? Naaah... in 2000. At that point I began carrying flyers around everywhere to tell people about my books. I handed one to a person at a wedding and it turned out that they knew an agent and that is how I got my agent.

The obstacles I had to overcome were personal ones. Specifically, I wasn't able to write a good book after Be More Chill. I tried and tried, and it drove me crazy, and that's how I ended up in the hospital as described in It's Kind of A Funny Story.


top
 

34. What is your favorite thing to do other than writing and reading?

I enjoy

  • bicycling

  • playing with my cat

  • taking walks with my wife, Sabra Embury


I used to enjoy (but have now forsworn):
  • Magic: The Gathering
    (read the Magic essay from Teen Angst? Naaah... here!)

I'm a big fan of

  • amusement parks

  • travel (with my wife)

  • speaking at schools and meeting readers!



top
 

35. Your birth place and date?

I was born in New York, NY on April 4, 1981.

top
 

36. Do you have siblings?

I have a brother and sister, both younger.

top
 

37. What college did you go to?

I attended Hunter College in New York City from 2000-2003, graduating with a bacehlor's degree in computer science.

top
 

38. When did you write your books? How much time does it take for you to complete a book?


  • I wrote the essays in Teen Angst? Naaah... over a period of 3 years while in high school (1996-1999). I spent about a year with Free Spirit Publishing compiling and editing them before publication (2000).

  • I wrote Be More Chill in 2002, in a 9-month period between roughly March and November.

  • I wrote It's Kind of A Funny Story during a very intense month in December of 2004 (and a few days in 2005).

  • I wrote my only completed "adult" novel project, Urban Renewal Renewal, in 22 months from 2007-2009. Urban Renewal Renewal is a 400-page seriocomic tale of Brooklyn real estate. It has been indefinitely shelved due to concerns about its quality. Perhaps I will come back to it later -- or it will be published when I'm dead.

  • I wrote my forthcoming young adult novel The Other Normals between July 2009 and April 2010. It will be published in fall 2012!



top
 

39. What would you say is your style/type of writing?

I would characterize my writing style as young-adult humor.

top
 

40. Have you been given any awards?

Yes, here is a list.

top
 

41. Where are you currently living?

Los Angeles, CA.

top
 

42. Why did you go to the hospital (It's Kind of a Funny Story)?

I was working on a book and it wasn't going well. I just couldn't make it work. I got depressed because I was worried that my career and life were over. One very dark night, I called the Suicide Hotline, like Craig does, and it went from there.

top
 

43. Will there be a sequel to It's Kind of a Funny Story?

Sorry, no.

top
 

44. What ever happened to Attack of the Killer Turtle?

The Attack of the Killer Turtle short film has been found:



top
 

45. I am feeling depressed. Can you help? Do you have recommendations for other books like It's Kind of a Funny Story that might help?

First of all, if you are feeling depressed and you're not sure if you actually have clinical depression or not, look to the physical signs. Clinical depression is a physical issue and it manifests itself with physical symptoms.


  • Are you having trouble eating?

  • Are you having trouble sleeping?



Those are the big ones. If you had a bad night or you were stressed out this morning and missed breakfast, that's one thing, but if you have spent the last few weeks unable to sleep and throwing up all the time, then you should talk to someone: your parents, a guidance counselor, or a doctor.

In terms of books that will help if you're depressed:


  1. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
    This "Atlas of Depression" covers the history and pathology of clinical depression, written by someone who suffered through it. Full of amazing science that will help you understand depression better and heart-wrenching stories that will help you keep your struggles in perspective.

  2. Quitting the Nairobi Trio by Jim Knipfel
    A book I read a few years before writing It's Kind of a Funny Story that showed me how funny being in the nuthouse could be. "Knipfel's wickedly hilarious and nutty viewpoint is so captivating that readers will finish his book with regret, waiting impatiently for the next installment of a unique, courageous life." -- Publishers Weekly

  3. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
    Although at the start it might just seem like pat advice from the Tibetan Buddhist leader, there are insights toward the end of this book that are profound. The Dalai Lama reminds us that there are always consequences to negative behavior -- and says that only by habituation can we train ourselves to be happy.



top
 

46. Why was Be More Chill set in Metuchen, NJ? Have you ever been to Metuchen?

I set Be More Chill in Metuchen, New Jersey because I thought it seemed like a good, simple suburban town that would stand in for suburban areas around the country.

However, I never visited Metuchen before I wrote about it, so I got a few things wrong. for example, I hear from people in Metuchen that students walk to school there, so Jeremy Heere would never be embarrassed to walk to school the way he is in the book.

It's best to think of the Metuchen in Be More Chill as a fictional city that just happens to have the same name as the real Metuchen.

In fall 2010 I got the chance to speak at the Metuchen Public Library and meet actual Metuchenites. Thanks to everyone who showed up!


top
 

47. In the snowboarding story in Teen Angst? Naaah..., you say you put your left foot forward when you slide, but the guy says you're goofy footed. Isn't it the other way around?

Snowboarders: yes, in the story "Goofy Foot Forward" in Teen Angst? Naaah..., the snowboarding term "goofy foot" is misidentified. I'm not sure if the guy at the ski resort was messing with me, if there was a typographical error, or if I just wrote it wrong in the first place.

The error has persisted through three versions of the book, so consider it a test to see if you are an attentive reader.


top
 

48. Where did you get the idea of the brain maps (It's Kind of a Funny Story?)

When I was a kid, like Craig in It's Kind of a Funny Story, I was really into maps. I was particularly enamored of the Hagstrom 5-Boro Atlases of New York. I used to want to trace them -- and I got frustrated, just as Craig does in the book (and film), because I couldn't do it.

One day, when I was five, my mother suggested that I draw maps of imaginary places instead of trying to trace real maps, and I took her advice to heart. I continued drawing maps throughout my childhood; I loved it; it was what I did instead of doodling in class.

For It's Kind of a Funny Story, I wanted to Craig to have an artistic drive but I didn't want to make him a writer because it was too close to me. So I made him an artist and gave him the map thing, but I put the maps inside the outlines of heads (because I could never finish them anyway!) and called them "brain maps."

I did make art myself when I was in the psych hospital in 2004: abstract art with cray-pas and watercolor which you can see here:

Untitled 1 by Ned Vizzini (2004)


top
 

49. What were you like as a kid?

As a kid I was into experiencing art and then trying to create it. I would play video games and then try to design my own video games with graph paper. I would hear music and then try to make my own music. Writing was the art form I found where it was easiest to experience something and then create my own version of it.

top
 

50. Who was your favorite author when you were a kid?

My favorite authors when I was a kid were Michael Crichton, Stephen King, and George Orwell.

top
 

51. How did you get into writing? When did you start writing?

I first discovered writing in 2nd grade. For two weeks, my school had a special class called "Writers' Workshop" in which all students were given a blank book and told to fill it with stories they made up. I loved it. I wrote adventure stories called "The Poor Old Wizard." A few years later I had a letter published in an issue of the comic book Moon Knight. When I was 15, I began writing for a newspaper called New York Press in Manhattan. I sent an essay about my high school to the paper and the editors liked it so I began writing for them. My essays in New York Press were collected in my first book, Teen Angst? Naaah.... Publication history continues here.

top
 

52. What's a normal day like for you?

I don't have any "normal days" as a writer. All days are different. Some days I am traveling to speak at a school or library or university. Some days I am meeting with people about a project. Some days I am on deadline and I am writing until I'm exhausted. In general, I get my writing done in the morning, before I try to tackle other business.

top
 

53. Where do you get your ideas?

I get my ideas from noticing things that amuse me and then bouncing them off of other people as stories to see if they resonate.

top
 

54. What one piece of literature has affected you the most as a writer?

The piece of literature that had the biggest impact on me as a writer is Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. When I read it at age 12, I got so into it that my legs fell asleep while I was reading it on the toilet. My father banged on the door to get in and I got up and collapsed on the floor (because both legs were asleep) and while I was down there, I thought, "What power!" I wanted to have power like that, power to make people turn the page.

top
 

55. Do you have a favorite line or excerpt from your book?

I do have favorite parts of my own work, but I'd rather not share them. I'd rather readers find and enjoy their own favorite parts.

top
 

56. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?

My favorite aspect of the writing process is when I know that it's going well, when the work is flowing. There's nothing like that feeling: as Mark Twain says, the right word is like lightning (and the wrong word is like a lightning bug).

My least favorite aspect of writing is the way I'm dependent on my mind to make money for the rest of my life. I'm not dependent on an organization or an employer or even, to a certain degree, my effort. I'm dependent on my mind, which is a flighty thing. If the ideas dry up I'm done for.


top
 

57. What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?

I do not wish to have written any books other than my own.

top
 

58. What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?

For writing, the greatest advice I ever heard was "kill your darlings" (see "How can I be a writer?").

For living, the greatest advice I ever heard was from the Dalai Lama, in his book The Art of Happiness, when he says "always remember the consequences of the negative behavior" (I'm paraphrasing). His point is that it's very easy to do things that are harmful to you because you don't remember that negative behavior has consequences. If you remember that it does, you won't hurt yourself as much.


top
 

59. What's your favorite book you wrote?

My favorite book that I have written is my upcoming YA novel The Other Normals, to be released fall 2012.

top
 

60. What's your favorite food?

My favorite foods are coffee yogurt and Hostess orange cupcakes.

top
 

61. What nationality are you?

I am half-Sicilian and half-WASP. Both sides of my family have been in America for 3 generations.

top
 

62. What was your first book?

My first book is Teen Angst? Naaah... (2000).

top
 

63. Why did you become an author instead of something else?

I became an author because I wanted to do it, because I wasn't terrible at it, because I worked hard at it and because I was very lucky.

top
 

64. How do you seem so in touch with teenagers today?

I credit my readers. Through this website, my blog, and my Facebook, they tell me what's going on.

top
 

65. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew that I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to do something that had the potential to outlast my own death.

top
 

66. How do you write such interesting stories?

I write interesting stories by remembering how people talk and remembering how I feel and trusting that I'm not alone.

top
 

67. What inspires you to write?

I am inspired to write by guilt and fear of death.

top
 

68. How long have you been writing?

As of this FAQ update, I have been writing professionally for 15 years.

top
 

69. How do you come up with your titles?

Of my three books, each title has a different story:


  • Teen Angst? Naaah... is based on the title that the New York Times came up with for this essay I wrote in 1998.

  • Be More Chill is a working title that stuck.

  • It's Kind of a Funny Story I came up with while I was in the shower; it is a phrase I used to say to my friends when prefacing stories for them.

  • The Other Normals is a working title that was tested on a poll on my blog. It beat the other titles by a 2-1 margin, so the readers helped pick that one!


top
 

70. What are you reading right now?

I list books I'm reading on my Goodreads profile.

top
 

71. Did you take part in the development of the It's Kind of a Funny Story film? Did you choose the actors?

To answer this question, I will reprint an interview excerpt from SPLICETODAY.com:

Splice Today: How involved were you in the production of Itís Kind of a Funny Story? Were you the guy in the background of the set wearing a beret and making caustic jokes?

Ned Vizzini: I was directly creatively involved with the It's Kind of a Funny Story film in three ways:

1. I suggested the song "Happy Today" by the WoWz to the directors; it ended up on the soundtrack.

2. Prior to the "Under Pressure" musical sequence, if you look at the music group leader's t-shirt, it says "Drunk Horse." That's my t-shirt.

3. I wrote the book.

Other than that, the film is an interpretation, but it's an interpretation I stand behind because the directors really understood where the book was coming from. I visited the set frequently and wrote set reports. People on set were great: they were like, "You wrote the book? Thanks for getting me a job, man." [more]


No, I did not select any of the actors.


top
 

72. Did you stay in touch with any of the patients you met in the hospital (It's Kind of a Funny Story)?

Yes, I stay in touch with one person I met in the hospital. I am not going to reveal who it is but I can say that the person is doing well!

I do have a funny story about a different person, "Humble." (Humble was not his real name.) He is the only other person I have seen outside the hospital since I left. I ran into him randomly, a few years after I got out, at a bodega in Brooklyn. I was buying chips. So was he.

"I was in the hospital with you, remember?" I asked.

"Oh yeahhh," he said. "How you doing?"

"I'm good. Actually, after I left the hospital, I wrote a book about it, and they're turning it into a movie."

"Wait a minute: you wrote a book about being in the hospital?"

"Yes."

"And somebody published it?"

"Yes."

"And they're turning it into a movie?"

"Yes."

He squinted. "So what you still doing in Brooklyn for?"

A year later, I moved to California.


top
 

73. Would you ever consider writing a book from a female's point of view?

Writing from the point of view of the opposite sex is one of the hardest things you can attempt as a writer. I don't know how women think!

However, Barry Lyga (The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl) gave me some advice. He said that to write from the POV of a woman, you don't have to know "women," you just have to know one woman, your main character. So if I ever fully identify with a female character who wants to be the star of one of my books, I guess it could work. No immediate plans, though.


top
 

74. Did you have anything to do with the film Limitless? Do you feel like Limitless bit off your premise for Be More Chill?

I did not have anything to do with the 2011 film Limitless, about a writer who gets a pill that lets him use all of his brain and thus become successful. I did have a chance to read the Limitless script a few years before the movie came out (it was called The Dark Fields at that time).

While I see the similarities with my 2004 novel Be More Chill, I'm not angry about it. The main character is different (he's not in high school) and the mechanism of the pill is different (it's not a quantum computer that gives real-time social advice). The idea of getting something that you love and then having it turn on you is not new in fiction and it's fine for other people to play with it as well. (As of this writing I have not seen the film.)


top
 

75. What are ten important dates in your life and what happened on those dates?


  1. April 4, 1981. I am born with the name Edison Price Vizzini. My
    mother calls me "Ned" and other people follow suit.

  2. 1986. So many people are calling me Ned that it is starting to get confusing on school forms so I have my name legally changed to Ned Price Vizzini.

  3. Summer 1987. My family moves from Manhattan, NY to the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, where I grow up and where much of Teen Angst? Naaah... takes place.

  4. September 1995. I start Stuyvesant High School and begin reading the weekly newspaper New York Press.

  5. May, 1996. I have my first story published in New York Press, "Horrible Mention" (collected later in Teen Angst? Naaah...). This marks the start of my career as a professional writer.

  6. May 17, 1998. I have an essay, "Teen Angst? Nah!", published in the New York Times Magazine. This brings me to the attention of more people and leads to the deal for my first book.

  7. August 2000. My first book, Teen Angst? Naaah..., is published by Free Spirit Publishing in Minnesota. The book appears on the Booksense 76 list and becomes popular with bookstores, libraries and schools.

  8. June 2004. My second book and first novel, Be More Chill, is published by Hyperion books. The book is based on a short story I came up with at Hunter College and was written in 2002.

  9. April 2006. My third book, It's Kind of a Funny Story, is published by Hyperion books. The book is based on my experiences in a psych hospital when I was suffering from depression and suicidal ideation during the attempt to write a follow-up to Be More Chill.

  10. October 8, 2010. The film adaptation of It's Kind of a Funny Story is released by Focus Features. The movie stars Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts and is released in 2011 on DVD and BluRay.



top
 

76. Was your writing impacted by the neighborhood you lived in?

My writing was impacted by the neighborhood I grew up in (Park Slope, Brooklyn) to the extent that anyone who writes is impacted by the place they grew up in. I met characters there who inspired me and really appreciated the neighborhood library (as heard in this podcast). But I don't intentionally try to write about it or capture it in a special way.

top
 

77. Who are your parents?

My parents are small-business owners who live in the New York area.

top
 

78. Did your parents encourage/support your writing?

My parents generally support my writing. I used to read stories to my father over the phone and he was very encouraging. My mother is a great editor and she helped with essays I wrote as a student. However, she did not edit anything that appeared in New York Press. She referred to those essays as "filth" and stayed away from them. She was never a fan of the cursing.

top
 

79. Are your parents similar to the depictions of the parents in the book It's Kind Of A Funny Story?

The parents in It's Kind Of A Funny Story are fictional and any relation to my real parents is purely coincidental. Funny Story in general is 85% based on my real life, though, so you can draw your own conclusions...

top
 

80. What was your inspiration for the book Be More Chill?

Be More Chill was inspired by observations about consumerism and a song called "AM/FM Shoes". See "Where did you get the idea for the squip?" for more.

top
 

81. What made you want to share your high school experiences with the world?

My high school experiences entertained me. I hoped they would entertain other people as well (and, in the process, fight off death and give me a job).

top
 

82. What made you want to use your experiences to encourage youth?

I never set out to use my experiences to encourage anybody. I just wanted to entertain people. Now when I speak at schools I apprecaite the opportunity to talk about the science of mental health because knowing about how your brain works can save your life.

top
 

83. What were some of the largest obstacles you had to overcome in your early life as well as adulthood?

The largest obstacles I had to overcome in my early life were social warfare and artistic legitimacy. I dealt with the first by giving up on high-school popularity and playing Magic cards instead. I dealt with the second by working on my writing to make it the best it could be.

My largest obstacles in adulthood were making money and depression. I dealt with the first by writing good books. I dealt with the second through a combination of study, medication, maturation, moving to California, finding my wife, and learning to compartmentalize so that my down periods never get too down.


top
 

84. What themes/subjects do you write about?

I don't think it's my job as a writer to identify themes I write about. I feel like that is the job of critics. If you're doing a report and you want to know what themes I write about, I turn it back on you: what themes do you think I write about? There are no wrong answers here. I suppose if you held a gun to my head, I would say I wrote humorous young adult fiction starring teenagers who have to deal with sex and death.

top
 

85. Have your books ever been banned or challenged?

While there is content in Be More Chill and It's Kind of a Funny Story that people find objectionable, to my knowledge my books have never been officially banned or challenged.

top
 

86. How did you first break into the literary "scene"?

By "literary 'scene'" what people really mean are readings. I did my first public readings in the early 2000s. I broke into that scene after going to other people's readings and asking the reading hosts if I could read at their events.

top
 

87. What was it like to have your first story published?

When my first story "Horrible Mention" was published in New York Press, I felt a mixture of pride, fear and shame.

top
 

88. I read that you are now working on Teen Wolf for MTV. When you go in to write for television, how is it different from when you go in to write a book?

The process of breaking story in a writers' room is very different from writing a book -- it's more like a good game of Dungeons & Dragons. But the components of storytelling that go into TV are actually very similar to the ones that are effective in a book.

top
 

89. How do you fight writer's block?

I don't tend to get writer's block; I tend to get "writer's dreck" where I just write crap. But in any case, the only way out is to find out what the problem is with the characters. A block means that there's something false about the characters -- and it must be excised.

top
 

90. What do you believe makes a good story?

A good story is a story that can be enthusiastically encapsulated in a single sentence.

top
 
Thank you!




Awards my books have received:
ALA
award award.1.2.3.4.gif

Best Books for Young Adults

BookSense
award award_icon.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.gif

Teen Angst? Naaah... - A BookSense 76 Selection

Illinois School Library Media Association
award award.1.2.3.4.5.6.gif

Abe Lincoln Award Master List

2009 Garden State Book Awards
award award.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10.gif

It's Kind of a Funny Story nominated for GSBA

Austrian JugendLITERAturpreis
award award.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.gif

Winner -- Literature for Young People, 2008 [was supposed to come with award, now there is a lawsuit]

Lufti Prize (Germany)
award award.1.2.3.4.5.gif


Mecklenburgische Literaturgesellschaft (i.e. "Golden Lufti")

Books for the Teen Age 2007 (NYPL)
award award.1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.gif

By The New York Public Library, includes interview (for It's Kind of a Funny Story)

New York Public Library
award award.1.2.gif

University of Madison Wisconsin
award award.1.gif

Michigan Library Association
award award.1.2.3.gif

MLA Thumbs Up Reading List

© Ned Vizzini 2000-2012

Uncle Tumba Banner Ad 2012