Hi, I'm John Green, author of the books The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines. Turtles All the Way Down, my first new book in almost six years, was published a couple days ago.

Why'd it take so long? Because I was on reddit too much.

I also make YouTube videos with my brother Hank, including vlogbrothers and the educational channel Crash Course.

Hank and I are in a bus for the next eight hours on the road to Charlotte, N.C. for the third stop on our tour. AMA!

I should add that there is a subreddit only for people who have finished Turtles All the Way Down where you can discuss it with other readers and ask me questions. But it is SPOILERIFIC so please only visit if you've read the book.

EDIT: We are nearly to Charlotte, and before arriving I need to educate my 7-year-old on the finer points of Super Mario Kart, because he just said the game is "boring" and "stupid" and that "Yoshi doesn't even look like Yoshi." Thanks for the great questions, reddit! Insert standard AMA thing where people say they'll try to come back later to answer more questions but then they never do.


Comments: 4497 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

krschu004842 karma

I met my girlfriend 5 years ago in Cincinnati at your book signing. I want to propose now, but don't know how. Any advice?? See you again soon at Cinci!

thesoundandthefury5443 karma

That's awesome! Are you ready to propose now? Have you talked about getting married? Have you discussed your plans for the future when it comes to things like career, children, and so on? I NEED MORE INFO.

krschu003513 karma

Thanks! hahah yes we are ready! Our careers are great and we agree on children. We just got a house in the spring. We already have 2 dogs and 3 cats together! Everything is good to go! DFTBA

thesoundandthefury4934 karma

If you're ready, I'm ready. Let's get this done in Cincinnati next week.

krschu003471 karma

Then that settles it, we're all ready. I dont want to interrupt anything during your appearance. If you'll let me do it then, great! When? Maybe during like a Q&A? If there is one.

If you'd rather me not, that's cool too!

thesoundandthefury8178 karma

What is your first name and your girlfriend's first name? I will cue you at the appropriate moment. I am not going to tell you in advance what the moment is because that would make it TOO EASY.


Alberius3912 karma

You're John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down. Why are you on a bus for the next eight hours? You could have taken a plane!

thesoundandthefury6841 karma

I could've, but it would not have been as fun or as comfortable. Here's my reasoning:

  1. Early in my career, I missed three very important events because of canceled or delayed flights. I understand of course that road traffic can also be a problem, and all kinds of unfortunate things might befall anyone at any time, but so far I have never missed an event while driving from place to place.

  2. When you take 19 airplane flights in 19 days, you spend a lot of time in airports. I like airports, but they're public(ish) spaces, so you can't totally relax in them. (Or I can't, anyway.) The bus is (so far anyway) super relaxing.

  3. There is no Super Nintendo on airplanes.

  4. I've always liked road trips. Some critics of my books might argue that I like them a bit too much.

nymeriasnow42612 karma

Do you think you would still consider writing something outside of the YA bracket? What key aspects of YA keep you writing it?

PS. big fan of 10 years now. I was 15 when I first saw you and Hank on YouTube and have met you guys in Scotland twice. Please visit again sometime!

thesoundandthefury4623 karma

I loved both those trips to Scotland! Hope to be back soon.

I don't know what I'll write in the future. Or if I'll write in the future, for that matter. Writing this book over the last six years was really challenging for me, and I sort of made a deal with myself that I'd take a break once I finished.

As for why I like publishing YA: There are several reasons. One is that I like sharing a shelf with so many writers I admire, from M. T. Anderson to Angie Thomas to Jacqueline Woodson. I love that YA includes scifi AND mystery AND romance AND 'literary fiction' AND everything else.

Another reason is that I like teenage characters and teen readers. Teenagers are doing so many things for the first time--like, they're often falling in love for the first time, but they're also asking the big questions of human existence for the first time as entities separate from their parents. They're thinking about whether there is inherent meaning to human life or whether we have to construct meaning (and what meaning we should construct). They're thinking about the role suffering plays in human life. They're thinking about free will and selfhood and how we establish and confer personhood.

And they're doing it all with unironized emotion and enthusiasm that I find incredibly compelling. Like, I think sincerity is maybe the most underrated feeling of contemporary life. I understand that overly sincere people and sentiments feel cringey to us, but to me sincerity is really lovely, and worth celebrating.

Most of TFIOS's readers are adults, and most of TATWD's probably will be, too. And that's awesome. I want to write books that stand up to critical reading but that also appeal to a broad audience. But I really like being read by teenagers. It's an incredible privilege to have a seat at the table in someone's life when they're asking those big questions for the first time.

outerspacing2169 karma

how many turtles does it take to make it all the way down?

thesoundandthefury3467 karma

It takes more than all of the turtles.

AlvySingers2145 karma

How's Willy doing?

thesoundandthefury4740 karma

(Willy is my dog.) Willy has cancer, and has for almost a year, but he is doing well. He has a great dog life--we live in a wooded area and Willy has a great time chasing after small woodland creatures and barking at the neighbors.

crazycatlady_riley1568 karma

When you and your wife were deciding to have children did you ever worry about how your mental illness may affect them and whether or not they would inherit it from you?

Both my SO and I struggle with depression and anxiety and I always worry about passing that on to future children.

thesoundandthefury2276 karma

Yes, I worried (and worry) about both how my illness might affect them and about their increased risk of mental illness.

But I also worried (and worry) about lots of other things--whether they'll be at increased risk for other chronic illnesses because of our genetics, whether our public lives with negatively impact their lives, et cetera. Every parent brings their own set of strengths and challenges to parenting.

For me, the decision in the end was helped by the fact that I really believe that it is possible for someone to have a chronic mental illness and also live a fulfilling life.

Of course it can be challenging to meet your kids' needs when you're sick--but that's true for anyone with a chronic health problem.

All that said, whether to have kids is a deeply personal decision, and I don't think my decision would necessarily be right for you or anyone else.

sammmmtan1099 karma

What's your stance on Chewbacca's personhood?

thesoundandthefury1950 karma

Chewbacca is a person.

thebhgg261 karma

What's your stance on the personhood of C3P0! (or is it C3PO?)

thesoundandthefury641 karma

I do not think droids are people. Not even BB8.

BoardBuster451036 karma

What’s your advice for getting through your hardest mental health days?

Also, I would like you to know that because of TFIOS and Nerdfighteria, I met my future wife! DFTBA!

thesoundandthefury1785 karma

That's amazing! How did you met, and are you getting married soon? Also, are you registered anywhere?

EDIT: I just realized I didn't answer your question. I am not a psychologist, and do not feel qualified to give advice to people who are suffering from mental health problems. I can only speak to my experience, and my experience has been that on the worst days, I just have to survive minute to minute to minute and know that it WILL GET BETTER, because it will. It truly will. Your now is not your forever.

Dozus841028 karma

I'm a social studies teacher and I use your Crash Course videos all the time. I know you've got like a dozen different Crash Course series going on right now. So my questions are:

  • How involved are you in the Crash Course program now? Are you mostly handing them off to other experts to design and host?

  • Are there any plans to bring back the defunct Crash Course Geography series? (Props, by the way, for owning up to the first episode's flaws and pulling the series.)

  • Do you have plans to extend any more of your series like you did with the second season of World History?

thesoundandthefury784 karma

Thanks so much for using Crash Course (and for teaching). It's great to hear that it's a useful tool for your students.

How involved are you in the Crash Course program now? Are you mostly handing them off to other experts to design and host?

I am involved in the same way I was always involved, which is mostly in helping decide what we cover, overseeing projects, and some hosting. (There's a new literature series hosted by me that will start up next month.) They were always mostly written and designed by people other than us, and that's still the case. The channel is definitely DEEPLY dependent upon the brilliant team of people who work on the channel.

Are there any plans to bring back the defunct Crash Course Geography series? (Props, by the way, for owning up to the first episode's flaws and pulling the series.)

There are plans, but not for 2018, because I think we've set the upload schedule for next year. As we learned, it's an extremely challenging topic, and we don't feel like we've cracked it yet with the right writer, curriculum consultant, and Crash Course producer combination yet.

Do you have plans to extend any more of your series like you did with the second season of World History?

I think we'll continue to do 10-12 episode of literature videos per year, and we are looking toward doing more "seasons" approaches, but if we go back to World History, it probably won't be hosted by me. I think it's important to get new voices and perspectives in that conversation.

boing345brooke831 karma

Hi John! (And Hank too!) Congratulations on the new book, I can't wait to read it once I've finished my final university exams in a couple of weeks.

Firstly I just want to say thank you for being so awesome and for all the great things that you have done over the years, you make me proud to be a nerdfighter.

What do you find the most challenging part of writing a book?

Made you look, Brooke

thesoundandthefury1303 karma

Great name-specific sign-off, Brooke.

There's always a point, usually 20,000 to 30,000 words into a new story, where I realize it's bad. Like, really bad. And often when I get to that point, I have to abandon the story--which is a bummer, because I've spent three or six or twenty months on it, and then I feel like, this was all for nothing! I have wasted all this time!

But then sometimes I will get to that point of realizing the story is terrible, and I'll think, "You know, I think I can plow through to an end here. I think I've at least got some idea about the characters." And then I make it to the end of the draft a few months later. I'll still have to delete most of that draft in revision, and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite before I have a book, but if I make it past that point where I realize it's all bad, I can finish.

And then eventually I will understand that none of the time spent was actually wasted, because I had to puzzle through those stories that couldn't work to get to the one that could.

So for me the hardest part is accepting when something isn't working, and letting it go, and starting again.

chanofrom114th700 karma

you mentioned several times pre-release how nervous you were about all of us reading Turtles. How are you feeling now?

thesoundandthefury1263 karma

Mostly just very relieved, to be honest.

Publishing this book was very different from any of my previous experiences. There were almost no reviews until the day of publication, and the publisher was (understandably) very worried about leaks, so only a few people had even read it before maybe a week ago.

So I just didn't know what people would think of it. I don't think I realized how worried I was until Tuesday morning when I read the New York Times review and just started sobbing.

Of course, I understand that not everyone will like the book, and also that's okay! But it was a huge relief to know that early reviewers did.

vmachiel682 karma

Hi John,

I met you at a meet up in Rotterdam, when you where finishing TFIOS and living in Amsterdam. I knew you from Vlogbrothers and I hastily bought a book to get me an autograph. I've since read them all and love them.

Question: Will you please reveal the secret writing spot in Amsterdam you talked about? The one where one other nerdfighter found you, but kept it secret. Or did you reveal this already?


thesoundandthefury1119 karma

It was the top floor of Amsterdam's Central Library. Sarah and I went there to work each day during our months in Amsterdam, and I rewrote most of The Fault in Our Stars there. Still my favorite library!

ikelman27603 karma

One of the biggest criticisms I've seen against your work is that it overly romanticizes physical and mental illness. What is your response to this criticism?

thesoundandthefury1341 karma

I've tried very hard to fight against both the stigmatization and the romanticization of mental and physical illness. That's pretty much entirely what my new book is about. And if I've failed, in this book or elsewhere, I'm sorry.

yashendra2797563 karma

Big fan here John. I have 2 questions here:

  1. As a person who found you while at the age of 14, and one who has now become an 'adult' at the age of 20, I am still struck by how your are able to get into the heads of teenagers so much better that pretty much everyone else. Your books have been helpful to not just me, but my friends, and even my parents, who said later on that they got a greater understanding on my actions as a teenager. One thing I loved the most about your work, both as an author and a content creator is how you talked TO the teenagers, not AT them. Treating them as fellow friends rather than talking down. I guess in essence, my question is this: How do you have such an amazing understanding of the minds of people that are over half your age?

  2. Do you have any plans of visiting India? It really is quite an interesting country, and there are many fans here who would love to meet you.

Take Care

Love from India,


thesoundandthefury503 karma

Thank you for the kind words.

  1. I didn't have any understanding of teenage culture or slang or whatever when I was a teenager, and I don't have any understanding of it now. But I think the emotional experiences of adolescent are at least to some extent universal--there's a reason bildingsromans have been around for a long time, asking basically the same questions across the centuries. I think teens are interesting because they're asking those big questions and making big decisions independently for the first time, and there's an intensity and anguish and thrill in doing anything for the first time.

  2. I would love to visit India! I almost went last year, but family obligations ended up keeping me here. I travel a lot less than I did before we had kids, and I want to limit my travel until they're old enough to join us, but that shouldn't be too much longer.

BonoVoxGS464 karma

If you could give your 12yo self any one of your books to read, what one book would you choose?

thesoundandthefury1320 karma

I would not want my 12-year-old self to read any of my books, I don't think. Maybe my 14-year-old self. I would give him Turtles All the Way Down first, because I pretty much wrote it for him.

cturkosi208 karma

Have you ever considered writing one of the fictional books that you mention in your novels, perhaps as a short story published online under a pseudonym?

E.g. The Price of Dawn from TFioS: you could release it on April Fool's Day as a tongue-in-cheek over-the-top gory action thriller.

thesoundandthefury224 karma

I actually wrote a little section of The Price of Dawn for a fundraiser for the Harry Potter Alliance! (And I wrote a few pages of An Imperial Affliction for the copy that Hazel reads in the movie.) But I don't think I could ever sustain either narrative voice for an entire novel. It would feel like an impersonation, if that makes any sense.

kattylovesfoood429 karma

Will there ever be a film for Looking for Alaska?

thesoundandthefury1295 karma

I don't know. The movie rights to LFA were purchased 12 years ago by a studio. They own those rights, and I can't get them back, and so it's not my decision. At the time, the sale of the movie rights was incredibly important to us--it allowed Sarah and I to move to New York so that she could attend graduate school--and so I don't regret selling them, but it has certainly been a long and often painful process over the last 12 years.

That said, there are many new people working at the movie studio in question, so things may be changing. One never knows!

Two other things on this front: First, I think there is something magical about a book that only lives as a book. Harry Potter will forever to me be Daniel Radcliffe, but Holden Caulfield isn't anybody to me except for my Holden Caulfield. Books I love that live only as text feel mine in a way that movies just can't.

Secondly: I got incredibly, lottery-winningly lucky twice in Hollywood. With both The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, I felt respected throughout the process of making and promoting the film. I felt like my work was treated carefully and seriously, and I was lucky to work with genuinely wonderful people. That is rare for authors in Hollywood, and I am very grateful for those experiences.

Shivaess95 karma

Do those rights extend to a play or other live action experience off screen? Is there any sunset on those rights at which point you could push the issue? (Yes I know IP laws in this country are a pita, but here's hoping)

thesoundandthefury282 karma

There is a sunset on the ownership of their rights: It is the heat death of the universe. :)

We've had lots of lawyers look at it. They own the rights, and will forever. (So it goes!)

Shockrates20xx416 karma

What's Pizza John's favorite pizza topping?

thesoundandthefury878 karma

I'm not picky when it comes to toppings. I just want to eat pizza.

Just, like, don't do anything weird with it, okay? Don't try to tell me that this unrolled burrito is a pizza, or that this turkey sandwich on pizza dough is a pizza. I just want to eat pizza. Regular pizza and lots of it.

InTheNeighbourhood379 karma

What's your stance on pineapple?

thesoundandthefury2445 karma

Look, I just published a book two days ago. I'm not looking to be super-divisive right now. The last thing I need is pro-pineapple or anti-pineapple people boycotting my book. So I'm just going to say that how you eat your pizza is your business, and how I eat my pizza is with no goddamned pineapple.

CyanideEngineer358 karma

Hi John,

Often in your vlogbrothers videos you express opinions and ideas to your audience. As a young teenager I found these videos to be instrumental to my growth as a human being.

Have you ever found your opinions or viewpoints on a subject change after making the video? Are there any old vlogbrothers videos you wish you could go back and remake with a more mature opinion?

Thank you and dftba!

thesoundandthefury723 karma

When I was younger, I really liked being outraged. I liked being outraged about the minting of pennies, about the popularity of certain books or songs, about the obvious stupidity of those who disagree with me, etc.

I now find outrage to be somewhat overrated. Anger can lead to real action that creates change or moves the needle of public opinion on an issue, and that sort of activism is so important. But I'm not as interested in outrage for its own sake as I used to be.

NarwhalJouster227 karma

Just so we're clear here, you do still hate pennies, right?

thesoundandthefury595 karma

I still think the continued existence of the penny is a great example of what's wrong with contemporary U.S. politics.

tanketom305 karma

What opinion of yours has changed the most for the past 10 years?

thesoundandthefury1003 karma

I used to think the Internet was an unambiguous force for good.

hack819301 karma

Are you going to be doing anything more with 100 days? I really enjoyed that series.

thesoundandthefury457 karma

Thanks. My best friend Chris and I went on a 100-day health and fitness journey, and filmed the whole thing.

I don't know if we'll do another season of the show. It was somewhat expensive to make, and it's hard to pay for a show with high production values without some kind of corporate sponsorship (which we didn't really want).

That said, I've kept going with exercise in a big way. (In fact, I'm probably in better shape now than I was at the end of the show.) I still work out with Laura, our trainer on the show, twice a week, and I still run a few times a week.

I really enjoy running, and the mental health benefits to exercise have been genuinely life changing for me. One of the challenges of spending the next month on the road is that our schedules are somewhat busy, making exercise difficult--but I'm trying to eat well and get in quick, intense workouts when I can.

Kopar199291 karma

How would you describe your relationship between your OCD/mental illness and your writing?

thesoundandthefury882 karma

I wanted to write this story in part because I have not found that OCD brings me, like, secret super powers. Obsessiveness has not increased my powers of deduction, like you see in Sherlock Holmes or the TV show Monk.

I wanted to write about a detective whose mental illness is, like, massively unhelpful to the investigation. And although I know people often associate mental illness and creative writing, I have found my mental illness to be massively unhelpful to my writing. When I am really sick, I can't write anything. At times, I can't even read a menu.

I write best when I'm well, and while this book is about the experience of losing control over one's thoughts, almost all of it was written while I was in a period of good health.

celestevmoss272 karma

Does Aza eat her Cheerios with milk or water?

lipglosschaos487 karma

"Books belong to their readers." - John Green

thesoundandthefury687 karma

Yeah with an issue this important, I don't feel qualified to comment on a matter outside the book's text.

KyloRae271 karma

What are you happiest about right now?

thesoundandthefury1150 karma

I'm in a bus with my brother, my wife, and my two kids. There is plenty of Diet Dr. Pepper in this bus, excellent snacks, and passable wifi. It's hard to imagine how I could be happier, to be honest.

dragonsofafeather252 karma

how much star wars fanfiction did you read as research for tatwd?

thesoundandthefury506 karma

Quite a bit! I'm most familiar with Harry Potter fanfiction, but I also read a lot of One Direction fic, because in an earlier draft, Daisy and Aza were into 1D. (I kept some 1D easter eggs in the book for fellow fans.) But once I moved it to Star Wars*, I did read quite a bit.

I really love fanfiction. A lot of it is excellent.

  • There were a bunch of reasons I did this, but mostly because the first line of every single movie in this futuristic space opera series is "a long time ago," and the book is very concerned with whether the past is, in fact, in the past. But also, I think Star Wars is this wonderful shared mythology for contemporary humans through which we can look at questions of self and personhood and community and etc.

RGodlike214 karma

Has your opinion on Batman changed over the years? And what about Iron Man?

thesoundandthefury512 karma

I like Iron Man all right these days. (Iron Man is an important-ish character in TATWD.) I still think Batman could use his resources a lot more effectively if his goal is to minimize crime in Gotham.

samanthajaneren199 karma

Played much Nintendo with Hank yet? Who's winning?

thesoundandthefury743 karma

Hank is working on HIS book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, and so does not have as much time for Super Nintendo as I would like.

I am, however, mopping the floor with my seven-year-old at Super Mario Kart.

Piddly_Penguin_Army188 karma

Hey John, I've been a long time fan, I started watching Vlogbrothers in 2008 and still pop in from time to time to see what's new. Is it ever strange to you that the people who started watching you in the beginning are grown ups now with their own lives? Do you think your audience changes every few years? And how long do you think the blog brothers will go on?


thesoundandthefury366 karma

Thanks for the question. There are some people who've watched consistently for six or eight or ten years and still watch every video, and that's wonderful.

But the vast majority of people who watch regularly now weren't doing so eight years ago, and the vast majority of people who were watching regularly eight years ago aren't now. And that is also wonderful.

Like, I am overjoyed when people find something in our work that makes them want to stick with us over many years.

But it's also awesome to me if you really loved our work at some point and then went on to love a bunch of other things but still think back on your time with us fondly. I have those bands/projects/people in my own life, and I'm grateful for the role they played in my development as a person and a writer and so on.

As for how long vlogbrothers will go on: I don't know. I love the rhythm of a Tuesday. It gives order and structure to my life, and also requires me to make at least SOMETHING every single week no matter what. And I love the relationship we have with our viewers. If any of that goes away someday, we'll probably wrap it up. But for now, I can't imagine my life without the consistency of vlogbrothers.

bellatrix250174 karma

Hi John! My question is: How much writing have you done in the real physical location Cheyenne, Wyoming?

thesoundandthefury205 karma

Literally none! [context]

ximacloudx173 karma

Do you think it'll be weird when your children are old enough to read your books? Is there a certain age at which you'd allow them to read them?

thesoundandthefury418 karma

Part of me thinks they just don't find my job interesting enough to read them. (Like, I don't think our kids often pause to consider what their parents do for work, because they're busy thinking about pokemon.) But of course if they want to read them, I'll be happy to share them. As for an age: I don't know. Maybe 14? It's hard to guess, because I have no idea what it's like to have a child over the age of seven.

guitarocks95168 karma

What's your favorite Wine?

thesoundandthefury866 karma


ffsanton167 karma

What comes first when you have a new idea for a book: the themes, the intention/obstacles/conflict, the characters, or something else entirely?

Follow up: at what point during writing the book does the title become apparent?

thesoundandthefury462 karma

On titles: For me, the title often becomes apparent when my publisher is like, "We are going to announce this book next week, and we cannot announce it without a title." Like, I think the title to The Fault in Our Stars was not fully decided until the day before the book became available for preorder. In general, I'm pretty crap at titles.

As for how books begin: For me, they usually begin with characters and a question. With Turtles All the Way Down, the character was Aza and the question was, How do you find a sense of self when you feel like your self isn't really yours?

flaming_trout150 karma

A number of years ago, a scandal familiar to our current pop culture climate broke out in the YouTube community. A number of men affiliated with DFTBA were revealed to have behaved severely inappropriately with younger Nerdfighters. As far as I know, the men's career's (rightfully) never recovered.

I still struggle with the impact of this event even though I was in my late teens when it happened. I went to events hosted by these people, bought all of their music. I no longer consume any of that media that had meant so much to me. I had a treasured photo with friends where one of the men gave me a hug that now repulses me when I think of what that person did with fans my age. Being a Nerdfighter was a huge part of my adolescence, and a chunk of that experience will now always be tainted because of what happened with those men and how the community reacted.

Do you have any thoughts on how fans of media can cope when it is revealed that people they admired engaged in this type of horrible behavior? With more women being brave enough to come forward into an increasingly more accepting climate, how can we as consumers support these women while dealing with the fact that media once associated with beloved memories is now no innocently consumed?

thesoundandthefury197 karma

Thanks for this question, which I think is a really important one. I'm sorry that these once-happy memories have become painful ones.

(For those unaware, several male YouTubers abused and/or assaulted young female fans. Some of them released music through our merch distribution company, although we obviously parted ways with them when we became aware of what had happened.)

As to your question: I think it's really difficult when someone you admire and trust violates that trust by abusing the platform they've been given. It's a real betrayal, and as you describe very beautifully, it's awful to have treasured pictures become repulsive and scary. But your friendships--the help you gave other people, the help they gave you, the love you shared together--were still real and important, and I hope you're able to feel that. I suppose that's not really advice so much as commiseration, but again, I'm sorry, and I appreciate you sharing this, because so many people are going through similar experiences now amid other news of people using their power to abuse.

bdd4140 karma

Do you think you will write some dystopia into your novels in the future?

(I asked this during the book tour in NYC, my answer didn't get picked. :( )

thesoundandthefury312 karma

I'm no good at predicting the future. But I love reading dystopian novels! In fact, the new series of Crash Course literature will be focusing on dystopias.

ProtagonistForHire130 karma

What's Bill Gates like in person?

thesoundandthefury275 karma

Very nice, and extraordinarily knowledgeable. I think the Gates Foundation's motto is something like, "Dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy and productive life." And during the time I spent with Bill, I felt that he was truly, truly dedicated to that idea.

ofalltheginjoints_122 karma

what is your favourite piece of feedback that you have ever recieved about your work?

thesoundandthefury535 karma

One time someone wrote me and said--I'm quoting directly here--"Your book made me feel something I hadn't felt before. Not like I needed to poop or was about to throw up, but something else."

I've always thought that was quite a compliment.

cjhelms121 karma

In your time living in Indianapolis, it's gone through some major changes, as have you. As a resident of Indy, what are some good changes you've seen? What are some negative changes to the city? And how has Indianapolis influenced you as a person?

Also have you ever eaten at Love Handle at 10th and Rural? That's currently my favorite place in the city and I hope it continues to do well when it moves to the Mass Ave neighborhood this November-ish.

See you next week! 🐒🐒🐒🐒🐒🐒

Kiwi and Kiwi,


thesoundandthefury202 karma

Love Handle is great. My favorite restaurant in the city right now is probably Milktooth.

Indianapolis has changed a lot in the past decade, and mostly for the better I think. It's a very average midsized American city, which is one of the things I love about it, but I think investments in and around downtown have really paid off.

I wish we had better public transportation and more investment in arts and public spaces, because I think that helps attract young people to a city. (I do find it difficult to recruit to Indianapolis, a concern that is shared with many much larger employers.)

And selfishly, I wish we'd do more to clean up the White River. We have an amazing nature reserve that stretches through the entire city in the form of the White River, and we need to stop dumping raw sewage into it.

cessna182er120 karma

Having recently started reading Turtles all the Way Down, I've come across a lot of themes and specific anecdotes also present in your podcast Dear Hank and John. Do you actively try to incorporate these elements into your story or is it more coincidental. Or something else entirely?

thesoundandthefury207 karma

It's more coincidental. The podcast reflects what I'm thinking each week, and when I was in the thick of writing this book, I was mostly thinking about the book and its concerns. In a few cases, I talked about something in the pod and then later thought, oh that would be good for the book.

More than anything else we make, the podcast reflects how Hank and I really are with each other and what we're personally passionate about.

MrLumaz115 karma

What Mountain Goats songs resonated with you while writing the new book?

thesoundandthefury101 karma

I can't pick just one! I listened to early stuff a lot while writing this book. Songs that were on frequent rotation included "Source Decay," "Going to Maine," and "Going to Marrakesh."

erasegrace102 karma

Is there a difference between the book you originally wrote, and the one that is now being published?

thesoundandthefury236 karma

I probably deleted 80% of the first draft over the course of revisions, which is pretty standard for me. The first draft of Turtles All the Way Down was completely bonkers. (I mean, the finished novel is still quite fantastical in plot, but it's a pale shadow of its former self in terms of bonkersness.)

indigofox8381 karma

Anything in particular you could share that was bonkers and was then cut, the way that you told us that a cut ending for TFIOS involved Hazel and Van Houten getting gunned down by a drug cartel?

thesoundandthefury276 karma

There was a shootout in a Chuck E. Cheese that lasted through, like, the first THREE drafts before I finally abandoned it.

Obligatory_Username91 karma

How many Pokemon are in your Pokedex so far?

thesoundandthefury232 karma

Just tried to check, but it said, "Update to Continue."

TKAMB12380 karma

Hey John! I'm a huge fan and just finished Turtles All the Way Down. The book really moved me and I identified with Aza on so many levels. I too also struggle with OCD; mainly obsessive/intrusive thoughts and contamination fears. You wrote about these issues so accurately. You made me feel like I'm not alone in my thoughts and behaviours so thank you.

How did your experience with mental illness shape Turtles All the Way Down?

thesoundandthefury144 karma

Thanks for reading the book and for your kind words about it. You aren't alone, and I'm glad the book helped you feel it.

I couldn't have written the book if I hadn't lived with OCD for most of my life. But I also couldn't write the book while my OCD was poorly managed, because when I'm sick I can't write (and sometimes can't even read).

I don't want to further the dangerous romantic lie that artists need to be close to madness or whatever to do their work. It's true that people working in creative fields have higher than average rates of mental illness, but so do lawyers. So do teachers. I don't write best when I'm putting myself in danger; I write best when I'm treating my chronic health problem with care and consistency.

So my experience with OCD shaped the book profoundly, because when writing about Aza's experiences I was leaning a lot upon my own. And it was definitely the first time I was writing about something that was in my past but also still in my present, because I still have this and expect to live with it the rest of my life. But I could only write the book because I had a longish period of wellness (thanks to a combination of stability/medication/exercise/therapy).

platykurt65 karma

Would you comment on David Foster Wallace as an influence for you and this book?

thesoundandthefury136 karma

When you have experiences that are abstract and internal, it's very difficult to find language for them. Language struggles in the face of pain (especially chronic physical pain); Elaine Scarry in her brilliant book The Body in Pain wrote that pain destroys language. Think of the way you moan or groan when you're in terrible pain rather than being able to find words to express it directly and clearly. When reading Infinite Jest and parts of The Pale King, I felt like Wallace had found some form for my pain, a way of holding it and looking at it, and I will always be grateful for that. Whether and how it affected my writing is harder to say, but as a reader and person, is was a tremendous gift to me.

crying2desksover58 karma

Given that you have previously identified as a staunchly anti-unicorn individual, how do you feel about "Unicorn Tolerance" on the new tMG album?

thesoundandthefury61 karma

I loved that song, actually. That whole album meant so much to me, because I was a goth kid in the early 1990s. (My first concert was The Cure!) And so it took me back to a part of my past I hadn't been able to visit in a long time. Really great album.

ofalltheginjoints_57 karma

what is your favourite literary quote?

thesoundandthefury145 karma

"O Jamesy let me up out of this." from the last chapter of Ulysses.

raysofdavies52 karma

How badly do Liverpool Football Club add to your anxiety? Because for me it is a GREAT DEAL

thesoundandthefury85 karma

Liverpool aren't stressing me out nearly as much as AFC Wimbledon are at the moment.

paleasnight43 karma

What percentage of Turtles All the Way Down did you sign in each colour of Sharpie? Kudos on getting all 200,000 of the books signed!

thesoundandthefury124 karma

I think the most was green, which was around 30%. Red and blue were next, probably around 20% each. I got really fond of the reddish purple color--Sharpie calls it berry--so that might've gotten another 15%. The rarest color was silver; I only signed about 300 in silver, because I don't like the way silver sharpies glide across paper.

(I spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff.)

BoundaryOfSound40 karma

Hi John, who do you currently look up to the most and why? Have you told them that you look up to them?

Good luck on the tour and congrats on the early success of your new book!

thesoundandthefury126 karma

I really admire my brother. Don't tell him though.

Phanitan30 karma

Would you ever stop doing vlogbrothers? I've been watching since middle school and it's been a big part of my YouTube regimen. I appreciate all that you and Hank do!

thesoundandthefury58 karma

I'm sure will stop someday, because, you know, everything ends--but I don't foresee that day now. I love the structure that vlogbrothers brings to my life, and I love the connection Hank and I have to each other and to the community of viewers. It's still so fun.

pianoanime1630 karma

Hi, John,

To what extent do you think Aza is an unreliable narrator? I adored the characters in TatwD but found them occasionally flat. Was this intentional - to show us how consumed in her own thoughts Aza can be that the other characters occasionally seem to be dichotomous in falling in and out of favour with her (especially Daisy, to a lesser extent Davis)?

thesoundandthefury88 karma

She's certainly a poor observer of the world outside of herself, both when it comes to character and when it comes to everything else. That was intentional, and it was important to me, because to me one of the horrors of obsessive thought spirals is that they're intensely isolating. They make it so that Aza can't connect to the people around her in the way she wants, and also the people who love her can't connect with her as deeply as they want to.

My hope was that the reader would be able to see more of Daisy and Davis than Aza could, but it's no coincidence that Daisy and Davis's names are so similar. Aza struggles to see other people, even vastly different people, as anything other than not-Aza.

pennyforsheldon29 karma

Thoughts on pineapple on pizza?

thesoundandthefury42 karma

Quoted from above:

Look, I just published a book two days ago. I'm not looking to be super-divisive right now. The last thing I need is pro-pineapple or anti-pineapple people boycotting my book. So I'm just going to say that how you eat your pizza is your business, and how I eat my pizza is with no goddamned pineapple.