Boston.com hosted a fireside chat with local author Ben Mezrich Monday to discuss his new book “The Midnight Ride.”
The author of “Bringing Down the House” and “The Accidental Billionaires” based his latest thriller on the serialized novella “The Mechanic” which he wrote for The Boston Globe in 2020. The book follows an MIT grad who discovers a connection between the Gardner Museum heist and a secret from America’s past.
Moderated by Boston Globe Media Partners CEO Linda Henry, the discussion covered writing during the pandemic, Mezrich’s previous non-fiction work, and turning his books into movies. Ahead, we share our top takeaways from the event, and you can also watch the full recording below.
Writing ‘The Mechanic’ was a welcome challenge for Mezrich
“I’d never written that way before where I had something due every night,” Mezrich said. “It was like a chapter a day for three weeks. Newspaper people do that sort of thing, but book writers don’t usually have to work like that.”
Mezrich was approached by Henry and Globe editor Brian McGrory to write a novella for readers in spring 2020.
“The news was really heavy,” Henry said. “There were so many people that were turning to newspapers.”
Mezrich said that the opportunity pulled him out of a “personal hole,” and that he was inspired by the setting of his hometown of Boston and the history of the city for his work.
Mezrich also found joy in the serialized style of “The Mechanic.”
“The goal was every chapter was a cliffhanger to get you to the next day,” Mezrich said.
‘The Midnight Ride’ builds on the story of ‘The Mechanic’
“The Midnight Ride,” an 80,000-word novel, is the completion of the work he started in “The Mechanic,” according to Mezrich. It’s set up for sequels that he’s currently deep in the process of writing.
Mezrich said that “The Mechanic” attracted a lot of Hollywood buzz due to the Globe’s large readership and that there was talk of making Mezrich’s work into a streaming or television series.
“The Midnight Ride” also has non-fungible token (NFT) puzzles that go along with the novel. NFTs are something Mezrich said he wanted to dive into early as a tool for building his community.
“You’re figuring out the puzzle with the community,” he said. “It’s like a giant virtual book club.”
Hollywood is the next stop
Mezrich said that the story told in his new book would hopefully soon be made into a film, as well as further films based on the book’s forthcoming sequels.
In addition to the two sequels, Steven Spielberg is attached to the ‘The Midnight Ride’ screenplay, according to the Globe.
Mezrich also spoke about his previous non-fiction works, including “The Antisocial Network,” released in September 2021 about the GameStop short squeeze early last year, which is being adapted into a film and will be shooting this summer.
Mezrich likes to give his books a ‘cinematic’ feel
Mezrich said that the opportunity the Globe gave him to write “The Mechanic” was something he relished, and that “The Midnight Ride” allowed him to continue writing the type of stories he’s always loved to write.
“I really always wanted to write thrillers,” he said. “I always wanted to write big cinematic stories.”
Mezrich also referenced his 2015 non-fiction book, “Once Upon a Time in Russia,” that is also set to be adapted for the big screen. The book covers the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his relationship with Russian oligarchs.
“The best non-fiction books are the books that don’t feel like non-fiction,” Mezrich said.