You really should read: Destroy All Cars; Girl

This Portland native is well known as the prolific young-adult novelist who penned the angsty teen mystery behind Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park. But more than one of Nelson's wry protagonists deserve the spotlight—check out the lovelorn, pro-environment, anti-bullshit high-school essayist James Hoff in Nelson's newest, Destroy All Cars, to start. 2 pm Saturday, Oct. 10. Target Books Stage.

What's your personal writing ritual?

Monday through Friday: 10 to 4. Laptop, usually. I vary places in my house a bit: couch, desk, chair, library sometimes. Mac always. Current one is old and out of date, but indestructible.

What are your favorite themes to write about?

Teenagers in love. Teenagers in pain. (Same thing, basically.)

The most beautiful word in the English language is: Dude

What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place, and why?

John Updike. Rabbit is Rich. It was everything I hated in literature: verbose, slow, suburban in theme, utterly ordinary, and yet for some reason, I was mesmerized.

Fight Club time: If you could fight one author (or critic), who would it be and why?

Chuck Palahniuk, of course!

Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.

Harry Potter. Yawn.

Dream project:

My books are all dream projects.

Your cure for writer's block:

Work on something else.

Pessimistic question: Will you keep writing even after people stop reading?

Hard to tell.

Cautiously optimistic question: Obama? Discuss.

A great story. But brings to mind Fitzgerald's comment: Show me a hero and I will show you a tragedy.

Share one thing you've had to change in your everyday life thanks to our current recession.

Moved to a cheaper apartment.

Please paste a short paragraph from a story you're currently working on:

"The three seventh grade boys entered Max's bedroom. They stood in awe of him. He was Max Van Handler, legend, senior, high school super star.

Rob nudged Dylan forward.

'What can I do for you gentlemen,' said Max, looking up from his book.

Dylan squirmed. The other boys pushed him forward.

'Our porn sucks,' said Dylan finally.

Max stared at them a long time. 'I see,' he finally said."