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Author Ned Vizzini
Ned Vizzini is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, It's Kind Of A Funny Story, which was recently adapted into a film. I got the chance to talk to Ned about his writing, the movie, his parents' reaction to his books, and much more:
Joey-Well, I’m also a New York native and loved all the city references. Was there anywhere else that you considered setting “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story?”Ned-I set It’s Kind Of A Funny Story in New York because that’s what I knew the details of. I have tried setting stories in different cities and I find that Brooklyn/New York is most comfortable for me.
Joey-While reading IKOAFS, I noticed all the relevant references about things that kids really liked! How did you become so cool?
Ned-I don’t think I have ever been cool. I just try to notice things so that I can write them later. When it comes to cultural references I try and stick with the tried-and-true, like Led Zeppelin, instead of the up-to-the-minute.
Joey-Noelle is a character that I think most people can relate to; how did you go about making her so real? Was she real?
Ned-Noelle in It’s Kind Of A Funny Story was not real; I made her up. I based her on the kind of person I wanted to meet in High School–and then gave her scars.
Joey-Did you always want to write, or did it just start to happen one day?
Ned-I knew that I wanted to write starting in second grade when one of my teachers gave me a blank hardcover book as part of a “Writer’s Workshop” class and told me I could fill it with whatever I wanted. I was astounded; I figured blank books were very expensive and hard to find. From that point I was hooked.
Joey-I realized that you put a lot of real life situations in your books, has any of your family ever called you angry that you “revealed” something about them?
Ned-When I was writing in high school, my mother told me “I don’t read any of that filth that you write.” Since then, my parents have gotten more comfortable since I fictionalize things.
Joey-What are some of your favorite movies, books and bands? Have any of them influenced some of your writing?
Ned-Some of my favorite movies are Austin Powers In Goldmember and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Some of my favorite books are Permanent Midnight and Jurassic Park. Some of my favorite bands are Nirvana and Drunk Horse. Drunk Horse’s influenced my work in that their song “AM/PM Shoes” helped inspire my novel “Be More Chill.”
Joey-Did you know that you would become successful after the original publishing of “Teenage Angst? Nah!”?
Ned-I never knew at any point in my career that I would be successful. I still don’t. Success is fleeting and success at one point in your life does not last your whole life.
Joey-When you were approached about making “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” into a film, were you nervous that it wouldn’t be faithful, or excited to see your novel on the big screen?
Ned-I was excited to see It’s Kind Of A Funny Story turned into a film because I trusted the directors, who were very familiar with the book.
Joey-How do you deal with criticism, whether it be rude or constructive?
Ned-I find that humor is the best way to deal with criticism.
Joey-What’s your favorite book that you’ve written? Or do you love them all for different reasons?
Ned-My favorite book that I’ve written is It’s Kind Of A Funny Story. In addition to coming out of a singular time in my life, it let me share observations about the world that I never thought I’d have the chance to.
Joey-Did any figures from your childhood like teachers or friends ever inspire a character in one of your novels?
Ned-Many real people from my childhood inspired characters in my novels–friends more than teachers. Many real friends were combined and changed for fictional purposes.
Joey-If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Ned-If I weren’t a writer, I would be a computer programmer.
Joey-Final question, did you enjoy the adaptation of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story?”
Ned-I loved the film adaptation of It’s Kind Of A Funny Story.
I have a review of it here:
And I wrote about the experience of seeing it premiere in Toronto here: