Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And the next day . . . John Green


As if meeting (ahem) Judy Blume wasn't enough, I had the pleasure of talking with the delightful John Green and hearing him speak.  The first time I saw John Green was here in Oxford, three days after Looking for Alaska hit the shelves.  He was one of the authors participating in the Oxford Conference for the Book.  I loved his newbie enthusiasm and his witty remarks--especially as he held his own and stood out as brilliant and funny on a panel with Richard Peck.  And if you've ever heard Richard Peck capture and audience, you know what a brain feat that is!

In his speech, John Green talked about how important stories are in creating genuine empathy with others.  He asked, "how do we come to believe that other people are as human as we are?"  His answer--story.  It is story that enables us to feel what it might be like to be someone else. 

John also revealed his belief that books are a co-creation between the writer and the reader, and he admitted that his books feel unfinished until he starts getting emails from readers.  He also apologized to all of the librarians in the audience who were missing out on some great fan letters.  John often gets letters from readers praising their librarians for pressing his book into their hands.

Finally, John talked about the need to hear the voice of the "truly other."  He stressed the importance of kids inhabiting worlds they do not know and do a better job of imagining the other with complexity.  People we will never know are also human--they have birthdays, babies, cook food . . .

John peppered his speech with hilarious stories and anecdotes that I just can't do justice to here.  I can only say, if John Green is speaking or signing books anywhere near where you are . . go.  Go. Go.

sf

9 comments:

Katie said...

What a conference! I remember LOVING John's speech in LA a couple of years ago. He really is a dynamic public speaker.

Irene Latham said...

I love speeches that are peppered with stories! Thanks for sharing.

Lisa and Laura said...

SO jealous. He sounds amazing and he's exactly the type of writer I wish I was.

Thanks for posting this! I hope I get to hear him speak someday.

Jeannie Campbell said...

okay...you girls are just too lucky. judy blume AND john green? i'm glad i'm moving back...maybe i'll get in on the action. :)

Paul Äertker said...

Great speaker and writer. I used to teach at the fictional school in "Looking for Alaska," which may now be a dubious honor. |:~). Thanks for posting.

Stephanie Perkins said...

John Green is one of my absolute favorites ever. Ever ever EVER. I met him last year at a book signing (and he was lovely!), but unfortunately, there was no reading or speaking attached to the event. Lucky you! Sounds like you had a great one.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... so cool!

EJ Griffin said...

I just finished "Looking for Alaska" a few weeks ago, hands down the best book I have read in a long, long time. It was like reading "Speak" for the first time! A-mazing. I also read "Paper Towns" just before that, which was really fun since I grew up in Orlando like he did. It was a trip reading about all of those familiar locations and settings. So fun.

I really need to jump on the conference bandwagon. I am so missing out!

Emily

a brilliant blog said...

My suspicions are confirmed, you are in fact the Forrest Gump of the writing world!

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