The Other Normals Roundtable Interview
Prior to the big premiere release of The Other Normals, author Ned Vizzini gathered with four of the principal characters—Perry Eckert, Mortin Enaw, Ada Ember, and Anna Margolis—to ask them about the book and their lives.
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT July 12, 2012, 11:23:59 AM
Ned Vizzini: Okay, settle down, everybody! Take your seats!
Perry Eckert: I don’t have a seat.
NV: Perry, you’re the main character, you have a seat with your name on it in the center of the table.
PE: It says “Peregrine.”
NV: That’s your name.
PE: It’s my birth name! Would you interview Elton John and call him . . . hold on. . . Reginald Kenneth Dwight?
NV: Put your phone away, Perry, this is an interview for HarperCollins, they want your full attention.
PE: Is there water? Mortin, could you please pass the water?
[Mortin Enaw passes Perry a glass of water with his tail.]
NV: Okay, Perry, your name is actually a good place to start. Can you please tell us about it and where you’re from?
PE: Ah, Eckert, my last name, is German I guess, but I’m white. A white guy from New York. And “Peregrine. . .” I don’t know, my mom was into hippie names. I was born in 1997. My mom started calling me Perry from when I was born so that just stuck. I grew up in Manhattan until my parents divorced. They’re still getting divorced, technically—it’s complicated—it’s gone on for seven years, and they each started dating their divorce lawyers, so they just keep it going and going. You know how after seven years two people living together become common-law husband and wife? I think after seven years of divorce two people should be common-law divorced.
NV: I thought it was ten years for common-law marriage.
PE: No, seven. Seven’s a powerful number. Seven deadly sins, seven days a week, seven celestial bodies visible to the naked eye. Didn’t you do that kind of research when you wrote the book, Ned? I saw a lot of sevens when I got to the World of the Other Normals.
NV: Can you tell us what that is, Perry?
PE: The World of the Other Normals is, well, it’s this alternate reality that I travel to. Mortin Enaw and Ada Ember live there [nods to Mortin and Ada]. It’s like Narnia or Middle-Earth—
Mortin Enaw: Hold on! Hold on!
NV: Mortin, you’re not being asked any questions.
ME: I thought this was a group interview! What is it, a gestapo author wank-fest? The World of the Other Normals isn’t like Narnia or Middle-Earth at all.
NV: Okay, why?
ME: No magic.
PE: No magic, that’s true, but there are people like you, Mortin. Yellow hair, red skin, tails . . . that’s pretty Narnia-like. When I first saw you I thought you were from a role-playing game. That’s why I ran after you.
NV: Can you two talk about how you met?
PE: I was at summer camp, just generally failing at life—actually I had just had a failed conversation with Anna, who’s here—hi, Anna—
Anna Margolis [checking watch]: Is this almost over? Vampire Diaries is on.
PE: And I kind of sensed that Mortin was watching me, you know? The way you can sometimes sense when you’re being watched. And I had been waiting for him. I mean, ever since I was very young I believed there was more to the world than what I saw. There had to be. It’s just too depressing to think that people wake up and go to school and go home and get a job and get married and have sex and have kids and die. What’s the point? I mean there’s sex. That’s supposedly fun. But let’s say sex is just a—
ME: Perry’s a virgin—
PE: Mortin, shut up! If sex is just a thing like work and death, then there’s nothing fantastic in the world. And I live for the fantastic. I read Lord of the Rings and Redwall when I was, like, nine. I started playing this role-playing game called Creatures & Caverns when I was ten. I just . . . believed. And that got me through. Because a world without any swords or monsters isn’t a world I want to live in.
[Morin Enaw claps. Anna Margolis rolls her eyes. Ada Ember smiles at Perry.]
NV: Ada, can you tell us how you met Perry?
AE: I was working for Mortin. Mortin had this whole idea to bring Perry into our world for this quest. So the first time I saw Perry, he had just made the journey from Earth to our world. He was nude.
PE: Not my proudest moment.
NV: Ada, what would you say are Perry’s good qualities?
AE: Not how he looks nude.
[Mortin Enaw laughs.]
AE: I’m sorry. Peregrine, I’m not trying to be mean. Peregrine’s smart; that’s his strength. I mean, he might not want to admit it—or he might really want to admit it, it depends what kind of mood he’s in—but he’s a problem solver. And a stay-alive-r. Sometimes scared, sometimes confident. But always alive.
NV: I notice that Ada can call you “Peregrine,” Perry. Is that something you’ve talked about with her?
PE: She can call me whatever she wants. She’s great.
ME: Get a room, you two.
NV: They actually are rooming together on this press junket. But I want to turn to you, Mortin. You went on these adventures with Perry that are detailed in The Other Normals. What would you say is the lesson of the book?
ME: Don’t do drugs.
NV: Excuse me?
ME: In the book, I have a problem with this thing, earthpebbles. That’s what we call them in the World of the Other Normals. You just call them pebbles here. I’m talking rocks, you know, like you find in a big pit of gravel? Anyway, I have this whole issue with smoking them. That’s one of the things that we do where I’m from. The quartz inside the rocks gives us a big rush. It’s not like a serious drug like coke or heroin, so I guess it would more be like your weed—
NV: Mortin, this is an interview for a young-adult book publisher, could you watch the language?
ME: I can’t say “weed”? Here’s my point: when you’re young, it can be really easy to think what you’re doing is important. And when you’re smoking earthpebbles, you definitely think what you’re doing is important. So in the book, I’m immature and I have to go through a change. And so does Perry. Because he was so into playing these games that he ended up doing them all the time to the detriment of meeting people like Ada. And at some point, you have to put childhood behind, and you have to stop smoking rocks, and you have to be a man. Or a woman. Sorry. I have to be a man. Not a woman. I think I’m getting tongue-tied here.
NV: Do you think Perry has achieved that goal? Becoming a man?
ME: Not even close. We established the virgin thing.
[Perry throws his water glass at Mortin. Anna Margolis leaves.]
NV: Okay, to learn more about The Other Normals, you’re going to have to read the book, because Perry and Mortin are currently wrestling on the ground—
ME: You better hope for a sequel, Peregrine! Maybe you can get some action then—
PE: Leave me alone, Mortin! Leave me alone!