4 Things That May Surprise You About John Green

Hoosier journalist Jon Wertheim profiled the author for <em>60 Minutes</em> and came away with these impressions.

John Green, the bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down, went on 60 Minutes on October 7 with Bloomington-native journalist Jon Wertheim, who shares some of his off-camera takes here:

On Green’s prolificacy

Besides being an author, Green is a vlogger on YouTube, executive producer, editor, and educator for Crash Course, a series of instructional videos on literature, math, and science. “This was a bit of a tricky story,” says Wertheim, who spent two days in Indianapolis with Green. “John is a writer, and a very good one. But he does so much else. I came away amazed at how deftly he juggles it all. The writing, the podcasts, the Crash Course—VidCon was sort of the fourth element. It has real credibility. I marvel at how he pulls it all off.”

On his Midwesterness

Green, who was born in Indiana, is portrayed by the media as a genial, kindhearted, conscientious prophet of the teen world. Wertheim says that’s pretty much the truth. “He is very unimposing, accommodating,” says Wertheim. “Honestly, I have a writing background, he’s a very genial guy, he lives in Indianapolis, I’m from central Indiana—I’m thinking, If I don’t have a rapport with this guy, I should probably get out of this business. But he was very easy to talk to, and we hit it off. He’s who you’d expect him to be, which is a good thing.”

On VidCon

VidCon is one of John and brother Hank’s many brainchildren. In 2010, they first held the multigenre video conference for people who product YouTube videos and the like in Los Angeles, and it sold out. Then, only 1,400 people showed up. In 2017, attendance was 30,000. The event, captured by the 60 Minutes cameras, definitely made an impression on Wertheim. “I’ve never felt so old in my life,” he says.

On Green’s OCD

Turtles All the Way Down is Green’s most recent young-adult novel. This time, the author tackles a subject much more dear to his heart: anxiety disorder. Green suffers from OCD and says he cannot stop his thoughts from spiraling out of control. He exercises to cope with his behavior. “ It was a little bit illuminating to hear his challenges,” Wertheim says. “But I came away really impressed with how much he does well. I think it’s genuine. It’s not cynical.”