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At any age, what Ned Vizzini has accomplished – authoring two books, the most recent of which, Be More Chill (Miramax), is being made into a movie by the Weitz brothers – would be impressive. But the fact that Vizzini is only 23 makes his achievements even more amazing. It's easy to envy or even sneer at a writer who is so young and so successful, but one look at him in action, whether running his biweekly reading series at Barbes in Park Slope, aggressively flyering others at any number of readings throughout the city, or one his website’s message board, and you can see what he’s come out on top for a reason. His infectious energy and genuine passion for writing, reading and his fellow writers comes through, and he writes with a quirky charm that will have you laughing out loud. His ability to make fun of himself also goes a long way toward making him less one of those authors everyone loves to hate and more one of those authors everyone, even those who want to dislike him, wishes well.

His first book, Teen Angst? Naaah . . . A Quasi-Autobiography, originally published in 2000 by Free Spirit Publishing, was written while he was a student at Stuyvesant High School and chronicles his teen years, family, band and nascent love life with humor and wit. Be More Chill tells the story of high school student Jeremy Heere, who’s such an outcast he makes up “humiliation sheets” to mark his latest descent into loserdom, before swallowing a mini computer called a squip and attaining (almost) instant popularity. And because it's too precious a gem not to share, I just have to add that the last time I saw Ned, at his Barbes series, afterwards we were all standing outside on the sidewalk and this woman said to him, “Ned, are you coming to work tomorrow?” What kind of boss asks IF you’re coming to work, I wondered. As it turns out, it was his mom, for whom he does computer work. Aww.

First of all, you are everywhere. Practically every time I go to a reading, you’re there, passing out flyers, meeting people, just being present. And you seem very genuine about it, not like you are just trying to pass out your information, but are truly interested in the other authors. What motivates you to go to so many events?

I have been accused of being an inveterate self-promoter, and it’s true – my dumb ass is at nearly every event in New York City, giving out flyers for my reading series and telling people about my book and what I do. What a lot of people don’t realize is it’s a 2-way street; as I’m learning about them – what books they have out, who they wrote for, whether they suck or not, whether they might be interested in doing a reading sometimes – scenes don’t develop on their own; they develop because people are open to each other. Also, it may be hard to believe, but I genuinely envy the NYC writing community, they remind me of the dorks and rejects I hung out with in high school.

Be More Chill explores the familiar teenage themes of trying to be cool and peer pressure, with the twist - the aid of computer technology. Was there anything specific that inspired Be More Chill? Are there any other novels you think it's akin to?

When people ask me what Be More Chill is like, I always say it’s like Faust – that sounds good. It’s about getting what you want and realizing it isn’t what you want. When it comes to specific inspiration, a band I really like called Drunk Horse came out with a song in 2001 called “AM/FM shoes.” That described a guy whose life sucked, except when he put on special shoes that played the radio; at which point he became really cool and all the ladies loved him. That got me thinking – what if there really was a product that made you cool – how many would they sell and how much money would they make (they being American Mega Media Enterprises)? That led me to the squip and to Be More Chill.

We've talked about whether Be More Chill is a "teen" novel or an "adult" novel, and you've argued that it can be viewed as both and will appeal to each group. You're now 23, in the adult camp but close in age to teenage years. Why'd you choose to write about high school, and what kind of an audience are you looking for with this book? Should adults be interestedin reading about teenagers?

In Be More Chill, I chose to write about high school because I think it’s the most primal place that exists. The basics of human life – desire, status, failure, shelter – you really explore what these things mean in high school. As to the audience, I wrote Be More Chill for kids – they’re the people who have supported me and given me a “career” since day one. They’re also 700% more interesting, honest, and often educated than adult readers – plus they don’t lie about whether they read your book or not. But as for adults, sure, they’re invited. If you were born in the 80’s you’ll get a lot more of the references to the Konami code and whatnot. Humor doesn’t and shouldn’t, have age boundaries.

You have started a whole online squip universe, with over a dozen websitesdevoted to the fictional computer featured in Be More Chill. Whose ideawas that? How is it going?

The squip universe, or squipverse as we like to call it, was pioneered by the Brain Bridge, a web production and interactive contextual advertising firm consisting of me and my business partner Adam Colett. Since its inception, the squipverse, viewable at squipnews.com or simply by “Googling Squip” has generated over 2,000 e-mails (including one from Latvia), as well as invaded the world with squip stickers, art, stories and t-shirts. The best part about it is that content is provided by Be More Chill readers who are in on the joke.

You started writing as a teenager at Stuyvesant High School for New York Press, and those essays later formed the basis of Teen Angst? Naaah. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If you weren’t writing, whatwould you be doing for a living?

If I wasn’t writing for a living I’d be doing computer programming – that’s what I went to college for and what I always assumed I’d be doing for a living. But yes, since I was in second grade and I wrote this book for “Writing Workshop” class called The Poor Old Wizard (sadly, probably the high-water mark of my career). I have known that I’d always be writing something, be it journal, book, or blog – no blogs back then, of course. New York Press was instrumental in helping me realize my dreams.

You’ve now written one memoir and one novel – which type of writing do you prefer? How much, if any, of yourself is in Jeremy?

When it comes to fiction, I defer to Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird:
65% of it is real life. That’s a good figure. So 65% of Jeremy in Be More Chill is me – including the infected nipple scene. I like writing fiction slightly more than memoir (it’s a bigger game – the stakes are higher), but due to a lot of interest, I’ll probably return to memoir writing in the future.

Be More Chill is being made into a movie; are you involved in that process at all? Who would you cast as Jeremy?

I’m working closely with screenwriter, Steve Pink (High Fidelity) as he develops Be More Chill into an amazing film. Right now, we’re talking about non-linear plot structures, meta explorations of “squipvision” (I’m sure you’re glad you asked). When it comes to casting, I have slightly more say than say, you. But I’d love to use the super sexy non-Michael Pitt male lead from the Dreamers, we could dork him out good.

How does having the level of interaction with your readers, whether through events, your website and blog or simply being so out there, affect you when you then sit down to write? Do you have a mental picture of your readers in your head as you write, or does that not enter the picture?

When I write, I write for myself, I look for stuff that makes me laugh and then when I read it over it makes me laugh again and I try to add stuff that makes me think. I trust that I’m common enough to come up with stuff that will resonate with my readers.

Can you walk me through your average day - when do you get up, what's your routine, how much of your day do you spend writing?

There is no such thing as an average day for me, my keychain has about 20 keys on it. I wake up in different places, I eat wherever/whenever I can, I hang with different people, some days I go to meetings, some days I do interviews, some days I’m at home with e-mail all day. Generally, I’m up by 9 am, for business purposes. I don’t have a set writing schedule, I write when I feel guilty for not writing.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a new book, working closely with the Weitz Brothers (American Pie) as they bring Be More Chill closer to the silver screen. I also have an idea for a TV show, a non-profit project, and a killer Internet app. I want to do everything. Everything.

Best place to have sex in New York?

I’m not a connoisseur of public sex. I would say, the best place to have sex in NY would probably be in Donald Trump’s place, if you were banging Melania on the side. The place I’ve had sex that was most visible and embarrassing was in a theater during Shakespeare in Love.

Describe your perfect New York day.

The perfect NY day for me involves lots of biking, ideally you wake up with a smart, young women who is headed off to business school later in the week. Then you bike home, making whooping noises. Then you get to your house put on CDs and start fielding phone calls about what’s going on tonight. Then you write something about what you’ve seen.

Do you consider yourself a confirmed New Yorker, or do you see yourselfmoving at some point?

I definitely, definitely want to live somewhere besides NY – I’m thinking Barbados. NY kicks ass, but I love that word “well-traveled”. I would like to be able to meet people and tell them that I’m a well-traveled gentleman. And being well-traveled, that means actually living elsewhere, not so much from traveling.

Any words of advice for newly arrived New Yorkers?

I have so much advice for newly arrived New Yorkers: 151 Rivington, L’Orange Bleu, bike, green Trojans, Washington Mutual, Brooklyn on Friday nights, Manhattan on Sunday & Monday, move quick, show up, Verizon.

Read more about Ned, squips and Be More Chill at NedVizzini.com.

-- Interview by Rachel Kramer Bussel