John Green discusses new book, anxiety disorders at Lisner Auditorium

Media Credit: Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Author John Green reads excerpts from his new novel, "Turtles All The Way Down," at a Lisner Auditorium event Wednesday.

Author John Green, best known for his novel “The Fault In Our Stars,” visited Lisner Auditorium Wednesday to promote his latest release, “Turtles All The Way Down.”

The highly anticipated novel was published Tuesday and tells the story of 16-year-old Aza Holmes, who struggles with Obsessive-compulsive disorder as she tries to help solve a complicated mystery involving a runaway billionaire who is being chased for fraud and bribery.

The event, which was sponsored by GW and Politics & Prose, included a look behind the inspiration for the story, Q&A sessions with the audience and even songs performed by Green and his brother.

Here are a few of the night’s best moments:

1. An interview with the author

During a meet and greet session before the show, Green explained what it felt like to write his sixth novel after having many of his previous novels, like “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” become New York Times bestsellers.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, to be honest,” Green said in an interview with The Hatchet. “I think that’s part of the reason it’s been six years since I last published a book.”

Although he was a bit nervous to publish his latest novel, Green said writing books is fulfilling for him and that he wanted to write a novel that dealt with OCD.

“But obviously it’s wonderful to publish a book and know that people, at least some people, will read it,” he said. “That’s not something I always knew, so that’s pretty great.”

2. Inspiration behind the book

To kick off the event, the author shared an excerpt from his book that painted a vivid picture of its main character’s mental illness. Green captivated the audience with striking imagery and an expressive storyline that showed how Holmes would often methodically remove a band-aid from her finger and reopen a cut, letting herself bleed for a moment before replacing the band-aid.

The bestselling author then discussed how Holmes’ pain reflected his own struggle with OCD and how the disorder made him feel trapped “inside a prison that was the exact size and shape” of his body.

“A lot of it was inspired by my own experiences with  OCD and my interest in detective stories,” he said in an interview.

Green also said one of the driving purposes behind writing the novel was to give readers a look inside what it is like to live with an anxiety disorder and help them understand people who struggle with mental illness.

3. ‘Sharing a gift’

Before the members of the audience took their seats in Lisner Auditorium, they were handed small index cards so they could write a single question for the author about the novel. Green responded to a few lucky members of the audience with detailed answers.

One of the audience members asked how Green felt writing about mental illness. In response, the author revealed that he wanted to call attention to some of the problems with the depictions of mental illness in popular culture. He added that there are problems with both stigmatizing and romanticizing mental illnesses.

Another member of the audience said they aspire to be an artist but are afraid of sharing their work with the world. They asked how Green was able to overcome the fear of sharing his book and writing.

Green told the audience that writers and artists shouldn’t be afraid, instead they need to “think of it like sharing a gift.”

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