Just some highlights from John Green's bomb Reddit AMA
John Green is a man who wears many different hats. He’s written some of our favorite books (The Fault In Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska —the list goes on forever) some of which have become movies, too (which he’s been 150% involved in). He also teams up with his brother, Hank, and gifts us with hilarious YouTube videos which are educational, too (looking at you, Crash Course series). On top of all of this, he runs the website Don’t Forget To Be Awesome (DFTBA), which reminds us to be awesome every day (not that we need reminders!). Oh yeah, and he’s a great husband and an awesome dad and an all- around amazing guy. Does this dude have time to sleep? We are unsure, but we do know that there are probably very few things that Green CAN’T do.
Now, in his latest feat, Green has decided to hold not just one Reddit AMA, but one every single month until his newest book-to-movie, Paper Towns, his theaters (in June!). OK, so that’s really only a AMA for May and June, but we are not going to complain, OK? OK. He held his first one earlier today, and dropped some major words of wisdom. Here are some of the best parts you need to read (if you haven’t already):
Explaining why he loves writing YA (it’s long, but totally worth it)
I really like writing for and about teenagers. There are a bunch of reasons for this: 1. I like teenagers because they’re experiencing so much stuff for the first time —love and loss and grief and individual sovereignty and driving cars and, in the case of nonredditors, sex. Because those experiences are new, they are extremely intense, and it allows me to think about that stuff in a heightened way that doesn’t need to be cut by irony, which is really appealing to me. 2. Teens are extremely intellectually curious, and I love the straightforward way they consider the biggest questions: Is meaning in human life constructed by us or derived from a source greater than us? What do we owe ourselves and each other, and when should we prioritize our own desires over the collective good? Why is suffering unjustly distributed? So writing about and for teenagers allows me just to think about that stuff very directly and without cynicism, which I find extremely enjoyable. 3. Publishing as a YA author also has many, many benefits: Because of schools, your books can hang around in print longer. The economics of YA publishing are not QUITE as blockbuster-driven as adult publishing, so you can have a career without being a household name, and you can keep publishing even when your books aren’t selling hundreds of thousands of copies. And most importantly to me, you don’t live alongside other “literary fiction” books, or other “mystery” books, or other “romance” books. In the YA world and on the YA shelves, all that stuff lives together—sci-fi and romance and fantasy and mystery and everything. I love that. I love having colleagues who write about fairies and colleagues who write about 17th century American slaves, and colleagues who write about kids growing up today in the Bronx.
What he wants his legacy to be
I think my only really important legacy will be my kids.
What it means to be part of something BIGGER
I know that in America we are supposed to celebrate individualism and everything, but I feel like everything—books, YouTube, whatever—is really a vast creation that we are all participating in. We participate in it by reading and by watching and by making stuff, and the stuff that gets a billion views matters in that process and the stuff that gets 10 views also matters. It’s too vast and complex a process for any individual to really claim significance within it. Like, even someone who is really properly significant—Steve Jobs, say—was part of a much larger web of creation. We’d still have personal computers without Steve Jobs. We’d still have smartphones. They might look different; some of the functionality might be different; but we’re all part of a vast web.
The phrase that’s stuck with him the longest
The first time [my wife and I] had dinner together, I told her a story from high school about sitting on a porch swing and thinking about all the things that might happen to me, and how I never thought I’d end up in Chicago across a table from Sarah Urist. And she said, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia,” which I put in my book Looking for Alaska.
That observation has really stuck with me. Sometimes I need that form of nostalgia to get me through a day, but even so I try to be conscious that it IS a form of nostalgia, and that you can get lost inside the prospect of the future just as surely as you can get lost inside the past.
On how to make a faithful movie adaptation
So to me the job of a movie adaptation is not to re-create each scene of a book but to re-create the feeling of reading the book, the experience of it. And I feel like The Fault in Our Stars film did an exceptionally good job of that; it’s one of the most faithful movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. That’s thanks to the performances and to a great director and also to brilliant screenwriters.
I honestly think in some ways both the Paper Towns movie and The Fault in Our Stars movie are better than the novels upon which they are based.
What it’s like to be on a red carpet, and if he enjoys the atmosphere
No, it’s completely surreal and dehumanizing and unnatural. Some people can thrive in that environment, but I’m definitely not one of them.
That said, it’s a tiny tiny tiny tiny part of my life. I’ve spent more time TODAY watching the TV program Doc McStuffins than I’ve spent on red carpets in my entire life.
If he could only do one thing for the rest of his life — movies or YouTube — which one would he choose
If I had to pick between YouTube and movies, I would pick YouTube. This would be a financially counterintuitive choice, for sure, but I love online video and love working with my brother. Don’t tell my brother I said that, though.
The one book he wishes everyone would buy
That’s an interesting question. Probably Paper Towns, because if everyone on earth had to buy that book I would make like 5 billion dollars.
If Green is working on a new novel
If he can tell us anything about it
This is still only a fraction of what Green had to say in his lengthy AMA. You can read the whole thing here, and let’s start looking forward to next month when he holds another one. That gives us plenty of time to think up some awesome questions for him.
Image via here.