In a recent interview with THR, John Green discusses his inspiration for The Fault in Our Stars, his emotional first viewing of the movie, and his reluctance to turn his story over to Hollywood — see excerpt below.
That the movie happened at all is a surprise. “I was very reluctant to sell — very, very reluctant,” Green says.
Green attributes some of his hesitation to the story’s difficult origin. After graduating from Kenyon College in 2000, he worked as a volunteer chaplain for young cancer patients in Chicago while contemplating going to divinity school. The experience made him want to set a novel in that world, but he couldn’t get the story right and put it aside. He wouldn’t publish a novel until 2005 with Looking for Alaska. “Everything that I’d written before had been mostly from the perspective of a 22-year-old chaplain, not trying to imagine what it would be like to be a patient in that hospital,” he says.
In 2009, while at a Harry Potter convention in Boston to talk about video blogging, he met EstherEarl, a 14-year-old local girl with thyroid cancer who was a fan of Green’s work. They struck up a friendship, and Green visited Earl as her condition worsened. Through her, he found the book he wanted to write.
“I had to come to a philosophical place where I believed that short lives could also be rich lives,” he says. In Earl, “I saw more of the complex story that happens outside of the hospital … the richness and the fullness in her life.” After Earl died in 2010, he wrote in earnest. Fault came out in early 2012.
Green dedicated Fault to Earl, but he’s quick to emphasize the difference between fact and fiction. “Her charm and snark inspired the novel, but Hazel’s story is not Esther’s,” he says. “Esther’s story belongs to her.” Earlier this year, he helped bring out a collection of Earl’s writing, This Star Won’t Go Out.
But Green’s deeper reluctance to sell Fault can be traced to his frustration with the “datedness” of Hollywood’s portrayal of teens. “It looks more like a JohnHughes movie than it is. There’s a lot more fluidity [in real life]. I think a lot more of their social lives happen online or in sort of a cross space between off-space and online,” he says. “Hollywood doesn’t treat teenagers as intelligent as they are, and then when Hollywood does make a movie that kind of acknowledges the complexity and intelligence of teenagers, it does really well,” he says, ticking off Easy A and Mean Girls as favorite examples.
The complete article can be found HERE.