Kidsday reporters met one of their favorite authors, John Green, when he was in Manhattan recently. He wrote the book "The Fault in Our Stars," which now is a movie.
What is the message you want young readers to get out of this book?
In some ways, it's up to them. I believe that books belong to their readers, and readers can draw from a book what they want, but I wanted to write a book about people living with serious illness and living with disability that hopefully shows that sometimes I think we imagine those people as . . . being really different from us. Really different from healthy people . . . Sick people aren't different from us. Disability is an important part of identity, but it's not the only part. I wanted to try to capture that, and maybe . . . that comes across in the story.
What was the most rewarding part of watching and helping out on the filming of the movie?
Well, it was just really rewarding to see all of these talented people sharing their talents with my story, not just the cast and the director but also everyone on the crew in Pittsburgh. There were more than 100 people who worked on the movie, and they were all really, really good at their jobs. It was really fun for me just to watch that. I didn't have a role, I didn't have a job on the movie set except to just be like, "Wow, this is awesome."
Seeing the movie unfold before your eyes, like sitting with the characters that you made up amd hanging out. How does that feel?
I was worried that it would feel weird. I worried that they wouldn't sound the way they sounded in my head or that it would feel different, or it would feel like a betrayal of my story in some ways. That never happened. At no point did I feel that. I just felt so grateful. Ansel [Elgort] became my Gus, and Shailene [Woodley] became my Hazel, and Nat [Wolff] became my Isaac, and Laura Dern and Sam Trammell became Hazel's parents, and it just felt very real to me.
While you were writing the book, which scenes were you most looking forward to seeing come to life?
Gosh, I never imagined they would make a movie when I was writing the book. How can you make a Hollywood movie where the main character has tubes in her nose in the whole movie and it went into romance? It seemed impossible that Hollywood would even consider making this into a movie. But when they sold the movie rights . . . I wanted to see Hazel's house, I wanted to see the real heart of Jesus, I wanted to see Gus in a Rick Smith jersey. That was the stuff I was really excited about.
What role did Nerdfighter play in the success of the book and in the movie?
I don't think the book would be successful without Nerdfighteria [nerdfighters.ning.com]. The Nerdfighter community rallied around this book even before it came out. Even when you all had only heard one or two chapters of the book and were very generous in many cases. To pre-order it, they read it. A lot of them read it the day it came out, and a lot of them shared the book with their friends. And I think that was the beginning of the crazy, crazy journey that I've been on for the last 21/2 years, that the book has been on. I don't think that they ever would have made a movie . . . I think ultimately it was the fans of the book that convinced the producers in the studio that it was viable to make a movie about people with disabilities. That's a great credit to the community of readers that this book has had. I'm very proud to be a Nerdfighter, and I'm very grateful for the community.
Was there a specific reason for choosing Amsterdam for their wish?
I guess there were a couple of reasons. Anne Frank museum is in Amsterdam, so that was useful to me because I wanted to draw some parallels there. But also Amsterdam is a drowning city. It's a city that wouldn't exist without technological intervention to create these canals that allow the city to be on land instead of under 30 feet of water. And Hazel is in a similar situation because her lungs are filling up with fluid, and she needs these technological interventions of chest tubes to drain that fluid so that she can go on living.
When you see fans of the book, who have been with you from blogging, how do you react?
I'm just so grateful. I just feel really lucky. I also feel like I don't know if I could have done this alone if that makes sense.