First off, thanks so much for joining us for an up-close and personal interview for TeensReadToo.com! My name is Jen, and I'll be your server toda…oh, wait, wrong job! Anyway, thanks so much for taking time out of your writing schedule—which I'm sure is busy!—and answering a few questions for your readers and fans.
Let's get some of the typical interview questions out of the way first. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in 2nd grade, I have a class called Writer's Workshop that gave you a blank book and told you to fill it. I loved that class so much, I had a feeling it was in the cards.
Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?
I started publishing by writing stories about my high school life for a local newspaper called New York Press. After a few years of publishing those short pieces, I got contacted by Free Spirit Publishing, who became my first publisher for Teen Angst? Naaah... in 2000. After that it was college, a wedding where I met an agent, and my first novel Be More Chill in 2004. I got into it simply by submitting my work--I got very lucky.
Tell us a little bit about either your latest or upcoming release. If you could only tell your readers one thing about the story that had to convince us to buy the book, what would it be?
Buy my new book It's Kind of a Funny Story because it has a character who's named Muqtada who's not a terrorist!
What, or who, has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
The greatest inspiration for my stories has been my own ability to persevere. I know it sounds self- important, but I've been through serious depression and the fact that I'm still here says something.
Let's hear about your family, who I'm sure are thrilled to have a published author among them!
I have a wonderful brother and sister, both younger. My parents run a manufacturing business and they do a darn good job of it--they are buying a building! I can't even buy a Lego building.
Now for some fun facts. What's your greatest comfort food?
Donuts. Those crumb-topped Entenmann's. But that could be because I just ate three. Ug.
What are the first three things you do when you wake up in the morning?
Hm, the first is a bodily function. The second is teeth. But then I look at this picture that I have near my mirror that is cut out from Vice Magazine, which shows a really frazzled, crazy-looking man and says "Know this: when you are lying there in bed thinking you don't want to take on the day because it's too hard, there are human abortions out there stumbling around in a spastic daze repeating, 'Don't pee your pants, Bruno.'"
If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what's the one thing that would surprise me the most?
It might surprise you to know that I have a "One Way" sign taken from the wreckage of 9/11. Also that none of my cufflinks match.
Everyone asks the question about "if you could be a tree, which tree would you be?" so I want to know: If you could be a color, which color would it be, and why?
Orange. Orange is a power color!
Who is your favorite cartoon character? Which cartoon character is most like you?
My favorite cartoon character would be Scrooge McDuck, who was cheap but always good-hearted. I don't know. I just loved duck tales. More than any other comic book character, I'm probably like Eeyore, although I'm working on it!
If you could beam yourself to anywhere in the world ("Beam me up, Scotty!"), during any time in history, where and when would it be—and why?
I'd love to go into New York in the 1970's when it was a burned-out hellhole and buy some buildings.
So what's your favorite type of music to listen to? Favorite musical artists? Do you listen to music while you're writing?
I do listen to music while writing, although sometimes I prefer silence. I like a lot of big dumb rock music like Guns N' Roses and some lesser-known bands like Scissorfight. Not very big on the indie/emo bands, but I like some emo too. I like half of Fallout Boy's songs; I like half of the Strokes' songs. I love Nirvana. If I'm working (writing or doing other work), I often put on Miles Davis.
Do you have any favorite T.V. shows? Movies you watch over and over again? What was the last movie you saw at the theater?
My favorite TV show is the Sopranos. The only movie I'll watch over and over is GoodFellas. Detect a theme? And the last movie I saw was Hard Candy--UG. Terrible.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your teen readers. What would it be?
My advice to teen writers (or anythingers) is to stay confident. Once you start losing your confidence, things go wrong, and quickly. Always think you're the best at what you do, even if you suck. Maybe you suck in a great way.
One last question. What stories can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am wroking on an adult novel, which doesn't mean a dirty one--it just means one not-for-teenagers exclusively. I'm teaching in the NYC public schools this fall, so expect to see some of my experiences there make it into print in one way or another.