We talked to New York Times best-selling author John Green about his BlogHer Book Club selection, The Fault in Our Stars. Here's what he had to say about the strength of community, signing 150,000 copies of his new book and how becoming a father changed him.
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BlogHer: When you started Brotherhood 2.0 back in 2007 with your brother Hank, I know there is no way you could have predicted all that would come out of that simple, yet complicated, decision to refrain from textually communicating for one year. That said, what has been the most surprising part of it all?
John Green: The strength of the community has surprised us almost from day one, and it never stops surprising us. In March of 2007, I was hospitalized for a week with an infection behind my eye. Even though we only had a few hundred viewers, almost all of them contributed to a video to cheer me up. I was astonished.
Now, more than five years later, I’m still surprised. Most recently, I was blown away when our community reached $500,000 in loans at Kiva, a web site that facilitates loans to mostly female entrepreneurs in the developing world.
BlogHer: As someone who has poked around the fringes for the Nerdfighting community, I don't think it's possible to discuss The Fault in Our Stars without talking about Esther Earl. The title alone reminds me of This Star Won't Go Out foundation, and when I saw that the book was dedicated to her, I'm not ashamed to admit I cried. How much of this book did Esther influence and what do you want the BlogHer community to know about Esther?
John Green: The main reason I was reluctant to call the book The Fault in Our Stars was because I didn’t want people to connect it to This Star Won’t Go Out. TSWGO is an organization established in Esther’s memory by her family, and I certainly didn’t want anyone to think I was making a comment about the person Esther was or the extraordinary work her family does in her honor. (Eventually, I decided that their meaning of “star” and Shakespeare’s meaning of “star” were so different it wouldn’t be a problem.)
That’s a very long-winded non-answer to your question. Esther was a nerdfighter and reader of my books with whom I became friends. She also had cancer, and she died in August of 2010. A lot of this book was driven by Esther, and I could never have written it had I not known her. She was a genuinely empathetic person—a rare quality, I think—and also very funny, and she inspired a lot of the feelings in the book, as well as some of the story itself. I wish she could read it. I dedicated it to her because I really felt like I was trying to write it to her.
BlogHer: Two years ago, you became a father to the ever adorable Henry. How has fatherhood changed your writing?
John Green: Well, I also don’t think I could have written The Fault in Our Stars without Henry. When I became a parent, I slowly understood just how unconditional some relationships really are. I understood that as long as either of us is alive, I will be Henry’s father and he will be my son. And I found great comfort in that.
I don’t think you have to become a parent to understand the intractability of those core relationships in human lives, but Henry really helped me see love differently.
BlogHer: Has your hand recovered from signing all 150,000 copies of the first printing of The Fault in Our Stars?
John Green: Mostly. That is probably not something I’d do again, though.
BlogHer: At what point in the writing of The Fault in Our Stars did you know what would happen with Hazel and Augustus in the end?
John Green: Well, I can’t discuss that in detail without getting extremely spoilerific. I wrote many, many endings to The Fault in Our Stars (some of them so embarrassing that I’ve deleted them from my hard drive), but the overall plot of the novel was decided pretty early on.
Join us in BlogHer Book Club to discuss John's latest novel, The Fault in Our Stars!
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