John Green Speaks at the L.A. Times Festival of Books
The L.A. Times Festival of Books is the largest annual book festival in the United States and thoroughly dominated the campus at USC April 21-22 so, of course, the four of us had to be there.
While I was disappointed to have to miss DJ MacHale and the like at the YA stage with Jen, I did get to hear one of my heroes, John Green. Having just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars (I will be blogging about its villain tomorrow for my first installment of The Villain of the Month series), I was excited to hear him talk about a book I believe to be his best and a work that can hold its own against any modern classic. In any genre.
For anyone who missed the absolute delight of hearing John Green in conversation with the charming Lev Grossman—and most of you did since the guy working the door told me that tickets to see him were near impossible to get—here are my favorite tidbits from the interview. Enjoy!!!
11 Highlights from THE John Green
11. He used to work at Mental Floss and would spend 14 hrs. a day researching trivia.
10. When he was a student Chaplin at a children's hospital he played a lot of video games with terminal patients.
9. He sends (what he claims to be) bad first drafts daily to his editor. His wife and editor are his first readers.
8. He was obsessed with David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest in high school inspiring the idea of Hazel's obsession with An Imperial Affliction. He also liked the idea of a book so perfect it is impossible to write....like the books in his head before he tries to actually write them and they are ruined by becoming real.
7. He loves that high culture and low culture are more easily blended for teens.
6. His advice for readers? Read a lot. Broadly.
5. Why the name of "Gus" in TFIOS? It's a name that could be the name of an Emperor at first "Augustus" and then the name of a boy by the end "Gus". Hazel? Hazel was an in-between name. It's the name of someone who is in between dying and not, illness and wellness, kid and adult.
4. He's not interested in writing "adult" literature. He likes how kind and supportive everyone is in the young adult world, and doesn't find the genre limiting as a writer at all.
3. The original title of TFIOS was The Hectic Glow. He kept "The Hectic Glow" as name of a band. It is a reference to Thoreau's description of the hectic glow of consumption. He agreed when his editor suggested he change it to The Fault in Our Stars.
2. He tried to write TFIOS many times, and kept coming back to it, but couldn't find the right story until he met an inspiring young adult named Esther at Leaky Con.
1. My favorite thing he said: "true stories are hopeful" and "hope is not easily achieved or won."
(Another bonus of the festival: the authors are just walking around like normal people at a place where they are likely to have their picture taken by not-so-sneaky camera phones like any other L.A. celeb. The guy in the blue button-down is John Green. )