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15 Things We Learned From John Green’s Reddit AMA

If you know John Green, you know he’s basically the John Hughes of teen literature, with his latest book, The Fault in Our Stars, about two teens with cancer falling in love, serving as his breakout to an audience beyond just the passionate Nerdfighters (i.e., adults have read it). With the imminent release of the Shailene Woodley-starring film — which could be Love Story for a generation of so-called nerds — Green has been doing the publicity rounds. Here’s some things we learned when he came to Reddit this afternoon:

1. He’s reading Roxane Gay! Green writes that he is “haunted by” Gay’s book An Untamed State, and he’s reading Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming and rereading Katherine Boo’s masterpiece Behind the Beautiful Forevers for nerdfighter summer book club.

2. His favorite The Mountain Goats album is The Sunset Tree. (And he’s performed it with John Darnielle on stage at Carnegie Hall, so there’s that.)

3. His one author indulgence is a Chevy Volt, a fuel efficient electric car. “When The Fault in Our Stars took off I was like, “I’m going to buy my dream car.” So I did.”

4. He is worried about a world without bookstores.

“We need more than one outlet for books. I’m very, very scared that in the future there will only be two kinds of books: Those that are available only through Amazon, and those that are widely available via Big Box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. In that world, traditional publishers could only add value to widely distributed books, which would basically mean that Wal-Mart decides what American literature is widely distributed, which I think would suck. Then over at Amazon, you’d have a huge and very flat marketplace in which lots of stuff will struggle to find the audience it deserves. I’m not worried about me in that world; I’m “good at the Internet” or whatever and have a direct relationship with my audience. But I am worried about, say, the next Toni Morrison. Beloved became a massive bestseller when it was published 40 years ago. It’s hard for me to imagine that happening in an amazon-only future.”

5. He uses his “celebrity” status to get free Happy Socks.

“Hank and I have a rule that we don’t do product placement or accept gifts from companies in exchange for talking about them. This has resulted in me having to turn down some pretty sweet gifts, including, like, cars.BUT NOT THE HAPPY SOCKS. I TOOK THOSE HAPPY SOCKS. I COULD NOT RESIST. I AM WEARING THEM RIGHT NOW.”

6. Favorite movies: “Harvey is the one movie that I think genuinely may have changed the course of my life, but my favorite movie is probably Rushmore.”

7. He has actually collaborated with bestselling YA author Ransom Riggs… it was just in college, however. There are YouTube links of unfunny college sketch things the writers worked on together at Kenyon.

8. The Fault in Our Stars film really involved him in the process. “I always felt like my voice was heard,” he said, which is rare for authors. He called it an extraordinarily faithful adaptation to the novel’s plot and ideas.

9. His favorite last words are from Emily Dickinson: “I must go in. The fog is rising.”

10. Although the term “manic pixie dream girl” gets thrown around a lot regarding his works, Green sees it differently: “I hope that my books battle the idea that women are objects to be desired and/or worshipped by men rather than reinforcing that idea.” He sees the trope as “dangerous and destructive.”

11. Green is open about his struggles with depression and anxiety, and he gives good advice to kids in a similar place: “My advice is to get help — to find a good therapist and figure out what works for you.”

12. Successful YouTubers these days need a ton of skills to make a good video, and Green admits: “I’m lucky that I started out back when you could be good at basically nothing and find an audience because there was much less content.” But just start making videos.

13. Why writing Young Adult fiction is fun: “Teenagers give a shit.”

14. How can you be a nerdfighter? “If you want to be a nerdfighter you are one.” So we are all nerdfighters, if we want to be.

15. There’s a difference between dreaming of being a writer and actually becoming one. The dreams are glamorous, and the reality is “mostly staring at a computer and thinking.” He continues, “But in reality, for me, almost all of the joy is in the Writing part of being a writer.”

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