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04 May 2013

Interview with Ned Vizzini the author of It's Kind of a Funny Story

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. For a novel about depression, it's definitely a funny story.

Thank you very much Mr. Vizzini for the opportunity of having you on Shattering Words today!

1) How and why have you started to write? Were there something or someone that gave you an impulse?

I started to write professionally when I was 15. I think like most writers, I knew I wanted to do it very young, when I was 7. But some people (Don DeLillo, James Patterson) have successful careers in other fields before they turn to writing. I couldn't do that. I was compelled to begin young because I was afraid of death and uselessness. That was the impulse that drove me.

2) Tell me something about your book It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Here is something almost no one knows about 'It's Kind of a Funny Story' -- for the first half of the book, as I was writing it, I thought the title would be 'I Am a Triumph.' Fortunately I thought up a better title.

3) While youre writing, have you discovered a character that you where developing feelings of love for? And was there a character that gave you headaches?

All of the characters do both things! They give me headaches because writing is extremely difficult. But if I didn't love them, I would be able to continue writing about them.

4) How have you done your research for this novel? (It's Kind of a Funny Story)

I did "research" for 'It's Kind of a Funny Story' by actually being admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 23. You can read more about it here:

5) Is there a book that inspired your writings?

I was very inspired by Jim Knipfel's memoir of being in the psych hospital, 'Quitting the Nairobi Trio.' It is the first book that showed me that the psych hospital could be funny. It's a funnier book than 'It's Kind of a Funny Story'.

6) In the end, would you like say some words to your fans from Romania?

Please buy my new book that I wrote with Chris Columbus, 'House of Secrets'! You can get it here:


Ned Vizzini is the New York Times bestselling author of young-adult books The Other Normals, It's Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah.... In television, he has written for ABC's Last Resort and MTV's Teen Wolf. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. His work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Los Angeles.

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