Biographical Questions

Q. When were you born?
A. August 24, 1977

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. Primarily in Orlando, Florida but also a little bit in Birmingham, Alabama

Q. Where do you live?
A. I currently live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I wrote most of The Fault in Our Stars and much of Paper Towns here. We used to live in New York City, where I wrote part of Paper Towns and most of An Abundance of Katherines. Before that, I lived in Chicago, where I wrote Looking for Alaska.

Q. Did you receive any formal education?
A. Yes, I graduated from Indian Springs School (in Alabama) and then received a B.A. from Kenyon College (in Gambier, Ohio), where I double-majored in English (mostly Mark Twain) and Religious Studies (mostly Islam).

Q. Did you want to be a writer when you were younger?
A. Yes, but I always thought being a writer was, like, being an astronaut or playing in the NFL or something. It always seemed to me a very unrealistic dream. (I still don’t think of writing as my fulltime job: I make videos and help run record companies and other stuff.) Shortly after I graduated from college, I began working at Booklist Magazine. Booklist is an amazing magazine. Every two weeks, they review HUNDREDS of books. It slowly dawned on me that each of those books was written by someone, and I started to feel like maybe I could be one of those someones. During these years, I was also very blessed to have one of my editors at Booklist, Ilene Cooper, mentor me and encourage my writing. Ilene is an author, and through our friendship, I realized that people who write books are not, like, fundamentally different from other people. (Well, Ilene is smarter and funnier and better-informed than almost anyone else, but you know what I mean.)
So, yes, I wanted to be a writer. But it wasn’t until I was much older–in my 20s–that it seriously occurred to me that I could be a writer.

Q. Where do you get your ideas?
A. I don’t really know. If I had a better understanding of where my ideas came from, I would go there and acquire more ideas. I don’t tend to have big ideas, like, “A SCHOOL FOR WIZARDS!” or “VAMPIRES IN SUBURBIA!” My stories tend to start out with people: a child prodigy who hits the wall of his intellectual talents. A religious but not fundamentalist Muslim in the South. A young woman kept alive but uncured by a novel cancer treatment. These characters mix with questions that interest and/or haunt me: Why are we so interested in leaving a legacy? Can we construct meaning in a world that is so profoundly apathetic toward us? Is it possible to have a full life without having a long life? That’s where my books start, really. They begin at the intersection between people I’m imagining and questions that bug me.

Q. What was your childhood like?
A. I was extremely fortunate. My parents loved and encouraged me; my brother was empathetic and supportive; my friends (when I had them) were lots of fun without being too dangerous. That said, due to some malfunctioning brain chemistry and also due just to the nature of being a person, I often felt isolated and alone and scared. I was quite nerdy and dearly wished that I could be popular. I think I was quite difficult to be around–my insecurity and anxiety made it difficult for me to have straightforward, engaging social interactions with anyone, and I was really super self-absorbed.
I don’t particularly recommend any of these personality traits, but I do think spending a lot of time in my youth (particularly middle school) alone was helpful to me as a writer: For one thing, I read a lot. For another, I spent a lot of time listening to other people talk.

Q. Do you have advice for young writers?
A. That is not really a biographical question, but yes, I do. I believe that reading is a writer’s greatest apprenticeship. We learn how to write by paying attention to all the ways that writers who’ve come before us used this meaningless scratches on a page to bring stories to life in the minds of readers.
My other recommendation is to tell stories to your friends and pay attention to when they get bored. I still do this a lot, and it helps me understand how to pace a story, and what kind of phrases and images audiences find engaging.
Finally, trust your critics. When someone identifies a weakness in your story, they are almost always right. They may not have identified quite the right weakness, and they may not have quite the right solution, but if your readers are bothered by something, then things have gone awry. If you’re going to ask for readers’ time, after all, the story you write has to be a gift for you and for them.

{ 229 comments… read them below or add one }

Haley September 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm

dear John,I am doing a 6th grade literacy project and i [icked you because i love tfios and i was wondering if you could please write back even if its your assistant please answer my question. 1. What inspired you to write the book? 2.what inspired you to become an author? i understnd if you cant reply but thank you if you read this!!!!!!!!!!-Haley

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Emily November 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm

I know that part of what inspired TFIOS was Esther Earl. She’s a young girl that had cancer and unfortunately passed away. John knew her. ( if you want to know more, I suggest you read “This Star Won’t Go Out”. It’s about Esther.) John also worked at a hospital for a long time. If you google your questions, you will find loads! Hope this helped! Good luck on your project!

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Sallie November 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm

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Salena January 4, 2015 at 1:43 am

Don’t mind me, but hey your wasting time that John doesn’t have. Some of us take pride in being a nerd fighter and I’m sure and hope you do too, but can you please not do that thanks! DFTBA

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Brie September 26, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I’m writing a biography on you for a writing class any special information I should include? Do you enjoy being a writer? what inspired you?

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Daryl B September 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

How much does the training from the BA in English help you when you write? Could you be an author without it? How many times have you started writing and scrapped your ideas or just never finished the thought?

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Julia September 29, 2014 at 8:09 am

Hey i’m a huge fan of you and your books. My question is which one is your favorite of the books you have written?

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Elizabeth W. September 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

If you had a choice to change something in your past or know your future so you could make it better, what would you do? And if you go back to the past what would you change?

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????? September 30, 2014 at 12:32 am

OMG I LOVE TFIOS

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Isabella September 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

Where did you get the incredible idea to write the fault in our stars because my friend (Berna) and I (Isabella) are doing a school project on you and we love you!!!❤️

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Isabella September 30, 2014 at 10:21 am

Where did you get the incredible idea to write the fault in our stars because my friend (Berna) and I (Isabella) are doing a school project on you and we love you!!!❤️

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Salena Khan January 4, 2015 at 1:44 am

Ester Earl look her up. She’s incredible!!!!!!!!!

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Anna Klaas October 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

How has your life changed since The Fault in Our Stars became a movie?

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Emily McDonald October 6, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I’m doing an author study on you in my English class. I have to know your purpose for writing. So why do you write?

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Bella C. October 7, 2014 at 1:25 pm

What are your parents names? Did you have any brothers or sisters?

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Amber October 12, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Yes, he has a brother name Hank.

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Emily November 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Parents are Mike and Sydney Green

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Xavier Lewis October 8, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Hi!! I love your book: The Fault In Our Stars. It was an amazing novel. It was sad, but it was good.

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Abby October 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks for the info! I am doing a project on the banning of Looking for Alaska, and I needed an About the Author section! (By the way, good job on that book….I recently read it.)

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jackie October 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Hi, well first off i would just like to say how much I admire what you’ve accomplished. Everything you’ve written is well thought out and planned and I always find your books amazing. I would like to know about you more and anything you could offer in your knowledge of writing many Award winning books, I believe I would like to write something of my own someday and I would really like your advice. Thank you for the amazing stories that you have provided in my life.

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Dalyce November 3, 2014 at 3:14 am

When did you earn your BA?

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Lily November 3, 2014 at 7:50 am

Were you bullied as a chid?
ps. you are amazing

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Kate November 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Mr. Green, what genre do you prefer to read and what genre do you prefer to write? I am writing an Author Essay for 8th Grade Language Arts and would love to know. (I do need to know too!) Also who are your favorite authors? Odd fact: I live in Michigan.

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Aubrey Bates January 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

I love Michigan!!!

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Helane November 10, 2014 at 4:45 am

Why did you study islam?

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Arin November 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I am doing an author study on you and i was wondering what character traits or intrests helped you in your writing?

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Gabi Webber November 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Hello Mr. Green!
I am doing an essay on you in my Library Science class. I have one question: Why did you start writing?

P.S. I love all of your books, I have read all of them! I can’t wait to read many more!
Thanks,
Gabi.

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Edmund November 22, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Have you ever taken an IQ test? If so, I am wondering what your IQ is. If not, what do you think it might be?

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Nina December 8, 2014 at 2:29 am

Hello Mr. Green!
I want to start off saying that your books are amazing! I love them so much!
Also, I’m writing a mini biography for my author’s study project for my reading class, and I was wondering, are any of the themes in your books important to you? If so, why?
Thanks :)
-Nina

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Coralys December 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Hi!
Your books are AH-MAZE-ING. That’s why I chose you as the author for my final project. So I wanted to know how much research do you do for your books? And also, how many awards have you won?
Thanks!

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Rylee December 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

I’m doing a project for my 9th grade English class for The Outliers (it’s a book on success if you haven’t read it) and I was wondering if the 10,000 Hour Rule applied to you.

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Katerina Kostkova December 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I’m doing a school project about John and I’m really excited about it, this article is definitely helpful, so thanks for that! :D :)

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cyera December 18, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Dear John, I just have some questions about hazel at the end of the book. (I guess I’m just a little bit like hazel! lol) so what happened to her mom? I know she was working to be a counseler, but was she successful? && Hazel did she ever have another love like Gus again? just some thing I’ve been wondering.

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Salena Khan January 4, 2015 at 1:48 am

Hello I just have a few questions,
1, When do us nerd fighters get to meet you?
2, Did you receive your christmas present I sent it came back once just want to check.
3, DFTBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“(PLEASE NOTICE ME I HAVE ONE MORE BUT ITS TO PERSONAL AND I NEED TO ASK YOU) THANKS!!!!!!!!

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julia January 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

What age were you when you left your family for college? Was it right after high school? Or did you go a few years after?

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Samantha January 6, 2015 at 10:56 am

I am writting an essay about a person who has impacted the world in a positive way and I chose you to write about. I was wondering what the main issues in todays world you are trying to adress through your writting and the vlogbrothers (especially the P4A). It would be great if anyone could respond.

Thanks!

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Aslaug January 9, 2015 at 7:23 am

When I and my friend saw this we laughed, haha, cause our project is about you, thanks for the help <3

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KeShonna January 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Okay this is not for a school project, this is just out of pure curiosity. So you were born in Orlando, Florida and in Paper Towns, both Margo and Q live there. Is that really how you view Orlando based on your experiences? As a Paper Town filled with paper people? Or is the idea purely fictional?

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brynn alcala January 18, 2015 at 8:15 pm

I love your books I inspire you and your writeing i hope you can read this and if you dont i totally understand becuase being you probably busy all the time you should write more books.and movies i love your movies and books i have a couple question and i understand if you cant answer them

1.after the book does hazel grace Lancaster die anytime after the book

2.how did you find what ideals for The Fault in Our Stars

Thank you for your time and books.

#brynn ann nichol alcala

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Katie January 28, 2015 at 1:31 am

Did you write a lot when you were in high school? I mean, did you ever write stories (even if they were really bad) or come up with characters when you were in high school, before it ever occurred to you that you wanted to write for a living?

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Alisson Lievano Cano January 28, 2015 at 11:16 am

Hello, JG, my friend and i are doing a project about your life, and we want to know when did you enter to indian springs school and kenyan school. Also we need to know which are your parent´s names. Please answer us, we will be really grateful. We are in 8th grade.

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Gemma February 7, 2015 at 12:07 am

His parents are Sydney and Mike Green. It’s in the acknowledgements of Paper Towns. :)

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ethan sturgill February 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

what was your child hood like and where do you live

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Tristan Faith Lackey February 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Good evening (straight from Auburn, Alabama),
My name is Tristan Faith Lackey. I’m not entirely sure whether you actually read the thousands of comments left on your website or not. But I figured I ought to give it a try. I’m currently a freshmen at Auburn University taking an English class. In this class, we have to write a research paper on any topic that we choose in relation to poverty and privilege. I have chosen to write my paper on you, Mr. John Green (of course, in the hopes that you do not mind me writing a research paper on the topic of, well, you). In this paper, I’m hoping to look at whether you grew up in an impoverished society (by impoverished, I mean your family barely making ends meet each and every week), or a privileged society (and by privileged, I mean that you could do almost anything that you wish, you were able to attend school and college without many troubles, your family was stable financially, basically, you had certain opportunities that others do not have). Based on the way that you grew up, I would like to see how that effected your writing. Also, I would like to know if you believe that it is your duty, as a successful, bestselling author to give back to society (mainly the impoverished)? I have other questions concerning this topic as well, but these are the main ones. I would absolutely love it if you could promptly reply to my comment via my email address listed (hopefully it is not lost in the sea of thousands upon thousands of comments flooding your website).
Thank you so much.
With sincerest admiration,
Miss Tristan Faith Lackey (age 19)

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Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:38 am

Dear Mr.Green,
My name is Diane, I’m 17 y.o. (I know, it doesn’t matter for you, but…)
I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

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Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:42 am

DEAR MR.GREEN, I”M GOING TO DIE THE SAME WAY AS ALASKA YOUNG DIED. YOU’LL SAVE MY LIFE IF I’LL TALK TO YOU! ONLY YOU CAN HELP ME, NO ONE ELSE!!! I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

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Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:43 am

I’m not a crazy one, but I need you to see my text…
Dear Mr.Green,
My name is Diane, I’m 17 y.o. (I know, it doesn’t matter for you, but…)
I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

Reply

Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:44 am

I’m so sorry for 10000000 messages, but I need to talk.
Dear Mr.Green,
My name is Diane, I’m 17 y.o. (I know, it doesn’t matter for you, but…)
I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

Reply

Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:44 am

JOHN IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT! I COULD DIE THE SAME WAY AS ALASKA YOUNG DIED!
My name is Diane, I’m 17 y.o. (I know, it doesn’t matter for you, but…)
I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

Reply

Diane February 4, 2015 at 12:45 am

MR. GREEN PLEASE HELP ME! YOU CAN SAVE MY LIFE IF YOU’LL ANSWER ME!
My name is Diane, I’m 17 y.o. (I know, it doesn’t matter for you, but…)
I REALLY NEED TO TALK TO YOU!
It so important question and I don’t know where I can write you.
It’s about LFA book (my favorite book). This story has changed my life and we’re also so alike with Alaska Young.
And now I need to ask you for one thing. Only one. It’s matter of life and death. I literally could DIE if I won’t talk to you as soon as possible.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE answer me!
My e-mail – di.97@mail.ru (I check it every freaking day)
Hope you’ll help me.

Reply

Amy perez February 5, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Hi Mr.Green so today in class we got assigned a project. the project was to choose your favorite author so I chose you (: I would love if you replied to my comment or email me some of the answers to these questions ?
What are your political views ? what are your favorite activities to do ? What is your favorite type of music ? Do you have a favorite qoute ? Where were you first employed ? And if so what position did you work in ?
& the time period at job .
Please reply back it would mean a lot or contact my email
amy209perez@gmail.com
thank you (:

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Ruth February 5, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Hello Mr.Green,
My teacher assigned my class to do a book jacket and i decided to do “The Fault In Our Stars” i love your books and i have read TFIOS more than 5 times.. my question is which book was your favorite to write?
Please reply back it would mean so much to me or you can contact my email ruth.susi6000@gmail.com
thank you :))

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Gemma February 7, 2015 at 12:02 am

Hi.
I’m doing a comparative essay on you and another author. The only problem I have is that I have no idea which other author to compare you to! Do you have any ideas? If not, would you be able to tell me what genre your books fit into? And I’ll go from there.
Thanks.

Reply

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