It's a week after his movie The Perks Of Being A Wallflower premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and writer/director Stephen Chbosky can only talk about food.
"I didn't get my Coffee Crisp," he says, only half-jokingly, of his time at TIFF. "I wanted to find one. We don't have them in the States."
He's on the phone from a New York City hotel when room service arrives, along with the reason he's been fixated on eating: Chbosky and stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, are about an hour away from taping Anderson Cooper's show, and there's been no time to grab a sandwich because he's been doing press all morning.
"People go, ‘Why are actors so skinny?'" Chbosky says. "Because they never get to eat! You're going, going, going."
As his blood sugar normalizes, we get into Perks, which started as a semi-autobiographical novel he published in 1999 about a teenager named Charlie who's trying to return to "normal" high school life after a trauma. But coming back to the text a decade later wasn't quite what he expected.
"When I wrote the book," he says, "I was young and confused and going through a tough time. Charlie was my response, my hope to get out of that tough time. Now I have a daughter and a wife, and it completely changed my perspective. Not on adolescence, but on some of the adults."
And with the new perspective came a new mission.
"What I wanted to do was make a movie young people would recognize that respects and validates what they go through every day. But at the same time, a grown person like you or me could see it and be nostalgic about what we went through. And my secret hope is, if that young person and that grown-up realize that they love the same thing for different reasons, they might realize they have a lot more in common than they thought. Especially kids, realizing that Mom or Dad gets it."
It's always risky when authors bring their own work to the screen. Books and movies are very different things, and the changes required to make a story work as a film can drive an author crazy. Was it hard to let go of the characters he'd created and give them away to the actors playing them?
"No, because now there are two people who understand Charlie," he says. "Just like there are two people who understand Sam or Patrick or Mary Elizabeth. To share these characters with the actors, and then with my entire team - it was a wonderful thing.
"The book itself, and my experience with the book, was isolated. If anyone loved this story, they came to me. Now they can come to 150 people, which is so gratifying to me."