Author John Green Warms Up 'Looking for Alaska'

By Jessamyn Cuneo on January 31, 2006

John Green, pictures, photos, pics, images, author, writer, books, Looking for AlaskaFrom the depths of the La-Z-Boy recliner in his New York City apartment, author John Green spends much of his time writing, and not chewing Nicorette gum by the cheek-full.

"The five-year love affair was long enough," he says, "I've got no interest in it now."

There are plenty of other thoughts filling his mind, so the Nicorette is easy enough to forget about. His debut novel, Looking for Alaska (Dutton Books, 2005), has been attracting readers and critics everywhere. School Library Journal has compared it to the classic, A Separate Peace, by John Knowles. The ALA ranked Green's novel at number three on their Teen's Top Ten List of 2005.

That's not all that Looking for Alaska has to claim for itself. Here's something worth kicking all your bad habits: Paramount Pictures has already bought the screenplay rights. Mark Waters, producer of Mean Girls, will be producing the film, and has handed over the writing and directing to none other than Josh Schwartz, whom Green jokingly calls, "the kid who created and directed the O.C."

"It was a wonderfully unexpected turn of events," Green says, with his usual modesty. "I remember when I got my book contract, I was so psyched. [Having Alaska] turned into a movie never crossed my mind."

Today's entertainment industry discovered this 28-year-old author frighteningly fast, and swung its money-hungry, hypnotically-bright lights towards him. On his last visit to L.A., Green recalls, "Henry Winkler was having lunch two tables down from me. I'm a sucker for that stuff."

However, Green shows more backbone than most when struggling to fight against "the lure of Hollywood." He has a fascinating reason for his resistance to the L.A. life: A strange, morbid similarity between himself and his Uncle Tom. Green was originally named after this uncle, John Thomas Goodrich. They are both southerners (Green is originally from Orlando, Fla.) who moved to Chicago and wrote for the radio (Green was on WBEZ-NPR.) And, yes, this chain of coincidences extends to include them both publishing their first novel at the age of 27.

Here's where things get even weirder: Uncle Tom left Chicago for Hollywood, hoping to increase his income, and then promptly picked up the bottle, put down the pen, and ended up bankrupt. While Green admits to being "oddly drawn" to L.A., he currently resides in New York, with his fiancé, Sarah, and is looking forward to his second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, being out in stores by September of this year.

While Green admits the paychecks of sitcom writers in L.A. are astoundingly large, he chooses to stick with his soul, and his soul lies with those dusty things on your parent's shelves.

"I really like writing books — I can't imagine wanting to do anything else," Green says. "I do almost all of my writing inside of a large, brown La-Z-Boy, from which I'm speaking to you this moment."