The Fault in Our Stars’ author talks about how grown-ups underestimate kids, why he never wants to pen adult fiction, and what’s next for the film adaptation of his award-winning novel.
I don’t know how I first came across The Fault in Our Stars, but sometime last winter I picked it up, and before I knew it, I was sitting on a DC Metro bus, tears streaming down my face, surrounded by people genuinely worried about my well-being. This is a book that breaks your heart—not by wearing it down, but by making it bigger and bigger until it bursts.
With The Atlantic’s 1book140 book club reading the novel this month, I jumped at the chance to interview the author, John Green. Below is a lightly edited transcription of our conversation, during which we discussed what he worried about in writing a book about kids with terminal illnesses (not the easiest of topics, in the scheme of things), why adults underestimate teens, and some beloved wisdom he learned from a college professor. For those interested in talking to John Green themselves, 1book140 will be hosting a Twitter Q&A Wednesday* at 7 p.m Eastern time. More information can be found here.
I read The Fault in Our Stars right when it came out and it has really stuck with me. It’s just an incredibly challenging topic to write about, and I thought it was done very intelligently and empathetically. But I’m curious why you wanted to even try to write a book about young people who have cancer, and how that idea got lodged in your head.