I’ve already written about John Green in earlier posts. Remember, the guy who bravely puts himself out there with a video showing how he overcomes his extreme fear of heights.
Well, yesterday I went to a State Library session with John Green, the second of two sold-out (within minutes!) sessions.
Amazed is how I would describe how I felt at today’s author talk. I kept thinking, the response from the audience is more like what you would expect for a rock star or a popular comedian. John Green, author of YA books such as Looking for Alaska and Paper towns, bounded into the Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library with the energy and enthusiasm that his online followers would know, and was greeted by an impressive and prolonged cheering.
And this is where he is perhaps more like the rock star, or at least the comedian, because John Green doesn’t just write books, he relates to his readers as a person, and he does this through a number of online exploits – a blog and videos, amongst other things.
Here’s what he says about what makes a good book. My camera isn’t flash, so you’ll have to excuse the poor quality.
John says that a book doesn’t belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader. The reader decides the value. He says it’s a good book, in his opinion, if it makes him think, wonder about, and feel; if it has emotional complexity; if it makes him re-examine the map he’s drawn of his world. Good books, he says, have real and lasting value.
What I think makes John Green a successful writer, is that he doesn’t underestimate his readers’ intelligence and maturity. He says that you can’t write a book that is too smart or complex for teenagers, because they are capable of reading critically and thoughtfully. He gives the example of the popularity of The book thief, by Markus Zusak , which maintains high sales.
I’m happy that I managed to get a ticket to the second of two sold-out meetings with John Green in Melbourne. There were many people in the audience from outside of Melbourne, one even who had travelled from New Zealand. John seemed sincerely thrilled that so many had come to see him.
Here’s one of John’s videos (by the way, the videos are between him and his brother, Hank), where he talks about various things, including Swine Flu, our fear of oblivion, and F. ScottFitzgerald.