For his latest book, Ben Mezrich put a slight twist on the title of his best-seller, Bringing Down the House, but this time he's writing for a very different audience--young readers. Bringing Down the Mouse parallels Mezrich's nonfiction book in a middle grade novel full of non-stop action and excitement, risk, math, and gaming. See what Mezrich has to say about his new book, Encyclopedia Brown, and his magical radio below.
Amazon: What's the elevator pitch for your book?
Ben Mezrich: Bringing Down The Mouse is the story of Charlie "Numbers" Lewis, a twelve year old whiz kid recruited into a secret club of sixth graders who use math and science to beat carnival games; their goal is to bring down Incredo Land, the best amusement park in the world.
Amazon: Why write a middle grade novel (vs. one for young adults)?
Ben Mezrich: I've always loved adventure stories that involve brilliant kids using their brains to beat systems that seem unbeatable; when I set out to tell Charlie's story, and create this world, I wanted it to feel like a thrill ride, but with a very optimistic, upbeat edge. Charlie's Whiz Kids- his group of nerdy friends- aren't the sort of dark, brooding characters you see in young adult, maybe because I'm not very dark and brooding either. I certainly was a geeky kid myself, but to me, math and science were always these magical things- powerful tools you could use in incredible ways.
Amazon: Did you have a favorite books when you were [your main character] Charlie's age?
Ben Mezrich: I loved the Encyclopedia Brown series. Also the Electric Book, about a kid trapped in a book being written while he tries to escape. But I read just about everything; my dad had a rule when I was 12 that we had to read two books a week before we were allowed to watch TV, and I loved TV--so if became a speed reader from a very early age.
Amazon: What's your most memorable author moment?
Ben Mezrich: There have been so many. Seeing my first book on the stands was cool. Going to the Oscars, and watching Aaron Sorkin win for his adaptation of my book into the movie The Social Network was pretty amazing. Seeing someone reading something I wrote on an airplane--things like that are pretty awesome.
Amazon: What's your most prized/treasured possession and why?
Ben Mezrich: I have an antique console stand-up radio that I bought in a yard sale twenty years ago, that I've always half-believed has magical properties. It's in my office, and it has watched over each of the fifteen books I've written. It also helped me find my wife, which led to my two incredible children, and my sweet, neurotic, epileptic pug, Bugsy. But that's a much longer story, so I'll just leave is simple: my antique radio.
Amazon: What's your lucky number?
Ben Mezrich: 6 and sometimes 3.
Amazon: What's next for you? Do you see yourself writing more children's books or entering the young adult right?
Ben Mezrich: Both. I have a thriller coming out in September called Seven Wonders. And a nonfiction book early next year. But Bringing Down The Mouse is the first in what I hope to be a many book series, so I'd love to continue writing these stories for many years to come.