The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Ben Mezrich

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Ben Mezrich

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Summary: Robert doesn't often say that a book should have been longer, but Straight Flush was one of the rare exceptions. There were quite a few questions he wanted to ask Ben.
Date: #
Interviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James

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Robert doesn't often say that a book should have been longer, but Straight Flush was one of the rare exceptions. There were quite a few questions he wanted to ask Ben.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Ben Mezrich: I see a movie theater full of people, a mix of young people that's probably a little more male than female. Hopefully they are all smiling.

  • BB: Straight Flush is another fantastic book about gambling, following your previous great ones like Bringing Down The House and Busting Vegas. Do you enjoy playing cards yourself?

BM: I do. I've shifted from blackjack to poker, and I play in a regular monthly game with a bunch of guys from all different walks of life. I also do end up in casinos now and again, and I have to control myself or I'll gamble way more than I should!

  • BB: In addition to the books on gambling, you've had success with Ugly Americans - perhaps my favourite of all of your books - dealing with American traders in Japan, Rigged, about oil, The Accidental Billionaires, the story of Facebook, and Sex on the Moon, about the attempted theft of lunar samples. It's an incredibly impressive list of topics - but have you ever had an idea for a book and had to give up on it?

BM: Many times I've chased stories that didn't work out. For the most part, most of the stories come to me; ever since '21', and especially since 'The Social Network' I've been inundated with story ideas; every time a college kid does something crazy or stupid, I get an email or a tweet. So I go into those stories, and often I have to turn back because it doesn't feel right.

  • BB: When you first got published in the late 90s, you were writing novels. What made you decide to concentrate on non-fiction?

BM: I stumbled into it. I started hanging out with these college kids who had too much money, all of it in hundred dollar bills. I followed them to Vegas, and they turned out to be the MIT college kids who were taking down blackjack. They had made 6 million playing cards, and I was blown away.

  • BB: How much research do you do before committing to writing a book?

BM: It varies. I interview as many people as I can, and spend a couple months building the book proposal. Then I try to sell it. If that works out, then I'm in the story for about a year!

  • BB: Bringing Down The House hit screens as 21, while The Accidental Billionaires was adapted as The Social Network. Is there any chance of Straight Flush making it to screen?

BM: Yes, I believe Straight Flush will be made into a movie, it's such a great, action packed story with so many twists. There is a lot of interest, we will probably sell it within the next few weeks.

  • BB: Speaking of the cinema, there was intriguing news a few days ago, with Fox picking up rights to your next book, Seven Wonders. Can you tell us anything about Seven Wonders, or is it too soon to give out any details of the book?

BM: It's totally cool, a sort of blend of Da Vinci Code and Indiana Jones; I'm writing it and Brett Ratner is producing. It will be a series of books, and if all goes well, Fox will do it as a big summer tentpole blockbuster. But the plot itself is very secret. It will blow peoples minds, I can tell you that.

  • BB: In several of your books, you run a disclaimer pointing out that some event and characters are 'composites of several individual events or persons', or something similar. How close to the truth do you feel you need to stick when writing non-fiction?

BM: I believe it sticks very close to the truth. I do all the research- hundreds of hours of interview, thousands of pages of court documents, etc- and then I write it like a thriller. It's a true story, told in a dramatic way. I feel it is very much nonfiction.

  • BB: You write some of the most exciting non-fiction books around - but when you want to pick up something to read yourself, do you go for non-fiction or for a novel? What are you reading at the moment?

BM: Both. I loved all the Game of Thrones books, that is some awesome stuff, I could never write something so vast. I also enjoy a good zombie book. I just read something about a wherewolf who falls in love, but I can't remember the title.

  • BB: What's next for Ben Mezrich?

BM: The Seven Wonders book, as well as a big secret nonfiction book I'm working on. And then I have a childrens series beginning next summer, a pretty wild book that's sort of harry potter with math and science instead of magic. And of course Straight Flush, the movie, which will hopefully get going pretty soon!

  • BB: That all sounds very exciting, Ben - we're looking forward to seeing the results and thanks for chatting to us.

You can read more about Ben Mezrich here.

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Haley Hintz said:

Ben Mezrich's "Straight Flush" is already being exposed as a gigantic fraud.