Ned Vizzini is the bestselling author of acclaimed young-adult books including The Other Normals, and It's Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture). Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus are the co-authors of House of Secrets published by HarperCollins Children's Books in April. Ned’s work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Los Angeles.
Q: What books did you read when you were a child?
A: I was a huge fan of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. They introduced me to so many words! I got very far in Mattimeo, the third book in the Redwall series, before I realized that a word I thought was “corpse” was actually “copse.” A “copse” is a stand of trees and a “corpse” is a dead body, so you can imagine my confusion: How are all these people hiding in this dead body?! A quick trip to the dictionary settled the issue.
Q: If you could be a storybook character who would you be?
A: I would be Edmund from the Narnia books Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair. I always liked Edmund; I thought he was smart and practical. I know he's presented as a complete nightmare so I guess I'm a difficult person.
Q: What is the best thing about reading?
A: The best thing about reading is that it slows down time.
Q: What is your all time favourite book?
A: I think Jurassic Park is the real Great American Novel; I think it does all the things that Moby-Dick does but with a mastery of pacing that has yet to be matched. Let the nay-saying begin!
Q: Other than reading books what is the most important thing a parent can do to help develop their children’s communication skills?
A: Business correspondence! I can't tell you how important this is. When I was twelve or thirteen, my mother showed me how to write a proper business letter, with my address at the top and “Sincerely” at the end and the proper spacing and formatting. That has proven invaluable. It's surprising how many people lack basic business communication skills and therefore are timid about approaching those who can help them. It takes me time, but I am always capable of drafting a respectful, appropriate business letter when the need arises. Thank you, Mum!
Q: How big a part did your parents play in encouraging your writing skills?
A: My mother and father both helped me become a writer. My father is a born storyteller and I learned about voice and pacing and humour from him. My mother is a wonderful editor. She used to help me with my homework and go over it with a red pen, which I think was probably a bit unethical. But I always did very well in school because I incorporated her edits into my assignments before I turned them in. Later I used her editing principles in my work.
Q: How do you encourage your children or grandchildren to read, what books do you enjoy reading with them?
A: I have one child and he's 22 months old. My wife and I encourage him to read by reading his favourite books to him, which are The Cat in the Hat and All of Baby, Nose to Toes. In both cases, he loves books that he can memorize, so we can stop reading and he can say the right words in the right spots. The Cat in the Hat is on the iPad as well as the bookshelf and my son is amazed that the book exists in both places!