Moon Talking - Ben Mezrich Interview
The Social Network author brings new novel to Edinburgh Book Festival
This article is from 2011.
Ben Mezrich tells Doug Johnstone why young people can’t stop telling him about their daring schemes
Ben Mezrich is not finding it hard to find subject matter for future books. The American author started as a novelist but is better known for writing a string of bestselling non-fiction books including The Accidental Billionaires about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a book that became the Oscar-winning film The Social Network. That success has changed his life.
‘I’ve become the go-to guy for these kinds of stories,’ he laughs. ‘Every college kid who pulls off a scheme comes to me; ever since The Social Network, there’s been a steady stream of people emailing me their stories.’ Mezrich’s most recent book is Sex on the Moon, about NASA trainee Thad Roberts and his extraordinary (and successful) plan to steal moon rocks from his employer’s headquarters to impress his girlfriend. Roberts was only caught when he tried to sell the rocks and subsequently spent seven years in prison.
‘I was terrified to meet him initially, I mean he’d been in prison for a long time,’ says Mezrich. ‘But he was extremely charismatic. He was really sweet and nice but he was also a little off, you know, a bit scary. I spent hundreds of hours with him in the end.’ As well as the interviews, Mezrich scoured thousands of pages of FBI files and court reports, giving the book a real authenticity. But the author is also not afraid to use his fiction experience to spice up the story. ‘I kind of stumbled into non-fiction, but since I did it’s always been the goal to write non-fiction like a thriller or a movie.’
Maybe that’s why his non-fiction books have been optioned by major Hollywood producers, including Sex on the Moon, which has the same production team as The Social Network. Seems those stories about scheming college kids won’t be stopping anytime soon.
26 Aug, 8.30pm, £19 (£8).