How did you decide to write It’s Kind of a Funny Story? There’s a lot of books on depression, but yours stood out because it’s hilarious, yet also quite touching.
By the way, what’s the longer name for Ned? It’s not Nedward, right?
I’m glad you liked IKOAFS. I didn’t choose to write it the way you seem to be thinking. It wasn’t like I looked at all the other books out there about mental illness (of which there were less, in 2006) and went, “I want to write one that’s hilarious and touching!” I was going through some heavy crap where I was convinced that I was going to die and then my life changed.
It started when I published my first novel Be More Chill. I was supposed to write a follow-up to that book — and I was, but the book was TERRIBLE. I started to worry that I would never be able to write again. I went on medication for depression… but stopped taking it, because I thought I was being weak.
One night I was sitting at my computer trying to save this TERRIBLE book by deleting all the verbs and turning them into present tense, and I realized: “You’re crazy. You’re not silly crazy or cute crazy, you’re just crazy, and you need help.” I called up the suicide hotline and ended up in the hospital. After I got out, I started writing about what happened there. The writing came very quickly and I knew I had something good.
So I didn’t “decide” to write IKOAFS. I recognized that my body wanted to write it — and I trusted myself.
As for “Ned,” that’s technically short for “Edison.” I was born “Edison,” but my mother called me “Ned” almost from birth, and it stuck. At some point the schools got confused so I legally changed my name to Ned. That’s what it is now — no “-ward” necessary.
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Have questions about writing or the business of publishing? Ask a real writer! Ned Vizzini is the award-winning author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, Teen Angst? Naaah…, and The Other Normals. In television, he has written for MTV and ABC. 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 forthcoming fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets (April 2013). His work has been translated into eight languages. E-mail your questions to email@example.com.