10 John Green Quotes That Didn’t Fit in Our June Cover Story

The wit and wisdom of Indy’s own “The Fault in Our Stars” author.

Profiled in our June issue, YA author John Green had a lot to say about his current level of success (and how he got there). Green relocated from New York to Indianapolis in 2007 when his wife, Sarah Urist Green, took a job at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, a post she has since left. The author spent the past few months on a whirlwind media tour to promote the release of the 20th Century Fox movie based on his 2012 novel, The Fault in Our Stars, about two Indianapolis teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love. But (at least for now) he calls Indiana home.

On his ties to Indianapolis:
“We are pretty deeply connected, or we would have left; Sarah and I don’t have any particular need to be here. But I really like Indianapolis. I like living in a city where real people do real work. I love our friends here. I just went to the BMV, and it was almost pleasurable. It’s almost something I would choose to do on a Tuesday—to go get a driver’s license.”

On getting recognized in public:
“It’s better if someone comes up and says ‘hi’ than it is if they just stare.”

On meeting some of his own favorite authors:
“There are a few writers that I’d always wanted to meet, but then when I met, it was a disaster. I’m a fan in all of the worst ways. I met Sherman Alexie and absolutely lost it. I’ve never met Toni Morrison, thank God. Actually, now I just choose not to. I don’t want to embarrass myself. I already know how it would go. I remember meeting Vonnegut. It went very poorly. I was 21.”

On word count:
“I try to write a thousand words a day. I’ll write like 25,000 words, and maybe 5,000 are keepable.”

On developing teen dialogue:
“When I was a teenager, my best conversations had this sense of incredible intensity and depth and excitement, like we were getting to the core of stuff that was really important. I loved that feeling of being on a car ride with a friend and talking about the meaning of life and feeling like we were making progress. So I try to re-create the experience of dialogue. And I have the benefit of being able to observe [the way teens talk] on Tumblr and Twitter and YouTube. They are interacting with each other with no idea that I’m watching. In our YouTube comments, they’ll talk about ‘John’ or ‘him,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m right here! I’m watching you! I’m listening!’ So I at least get to see the way they construct sentences textually.”

On being a role model for nerdy kids:
“I made that one video about bullying because I had become aware that there were more young people watching us. And then I got that heartbreaking message on Tumblr from this girl who went to my middle school, and whose teacher remembered me. It was particularly brutal for me to read that because I don’t remember myself being that unhappy in middle school. I remember that it was very difficult and that I generally didn’t have a particularly happy school life. But I’ve also always thought—well most people don’t, either. But to think that this teacher remembered me and remembered that I’d had a particularly hard time was really moving to me. I was actually on the train crying and thinking about it. Something flooded back about being 12. I hadn’t felt that then. I hadn’t felt like people cared about me—teachers or anybody. It’s kind of nice to know that they had, and they had noticed and been concerned.”

On how he wooed his wife:
“We went to high school together, and then we met again in Chicago. I went on her website and saw that she had art, and I asked her if I could come over to her house to maybe buy something. And then many years later, when we actually started dating, she came to my apartment in Chicago, and I was like, ‘Look, I have your art that I bought all of those years ago when we were just friends.’ And she said, ‘Oh, that’s upside down.’”

On the decision to film The Fault in Our Stars outside of Indianapolis:
“A lot of that stuff would have to be imported from Chicago. That’s very expensive. If it were a $100 million movie, maybe that wouldn’t matter as much. But for something as small as The Fault in Our Stars, 10 percent of the budget would have been lost. It would have been fun, though.”

On the early years:
“I vividly remember when I would have a book-signing, and like two people would come. Or no people would come. There would be the chair and the table, and 20 minutes after I was there, I would eventually sign the bookstore stock and leave. That was brutal. It was horrible.”

On his (very) public life:
“To retreat to Morocco, stop doing interviews, stop responding to readers, close my Twitter account—wouldn’t that be intellectually dishonest? You can’t welcome people into your life and then be like, ‘No, forget it. I’m overwhelmed by this, and I can’t handle it.’ I feel like I do have a responsibility to that relationship, and even though the relationship is going to be a little bit different for a while, I still have that same responsibility.”

This article is a companion piece to our John Green feature in the June 2014 issue.