Ben Mezrich tells all at Globe Talks event

Where does Ben Mezrich get the ideas for his books? It’s pretty simple: People e-mail him. Talking to a group of Boston Globe subscribers this week, Mezrich — the author of books about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg , MIT students who made millions counting cards in Las Vegas, and a NASA employee who stole moon rocks — revealed that he gets a “continuous stream of pitches” — between 20 and 30 per week — from people with wild stories to tell. Most come in the form of e-mails sent to Mezrich’s website. “If it catches my eye, I’ll dig into it, but I won’t do anything too crazy,” he said. And what exactly constitutes too crazy? “When the Egyptian spring went down, those guys called me and wanted me to go there,” he said, “I was, like, I’m not going to go to that square and get killed.” But ideas are rejected for other reasons, too. “When the Charlie Sheen thing went down, Charlie Sheen’s people called me,” Mezrich said. “I liked that story, but my wife, Tonya [Chen Mezrich] , was not going to let me hang out with Charlie Sheen for a year.” Similarly, he said, he didn’t jump on a plane when contacted by the madam involved in the Eliot Spitzer scandal. “Remember when Brett Favre was texting pictures of his penis?” he said. “That girl called me. She wanted me to write a book about Brett Favre’s penis.” He said he was also pitched by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange , but, again, he passed. “I thought he was kind of a bad guy and didn’t want to get into that,” said Mezrich.