John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

David Levithan is the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility, and Are We There Yet? He is also the coauthor, with John Green, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.



A Conversation Between John Green and David Levithan about Will Grayson, Will Grayson:


John Green: Okay, so admittedly I've heard the story before, but I never tire of it: How'd you come up with the idea for this book?

David Levithan: Funny you should ask. The idea of doing a book about two boys with the same name came from the fact that one of my best friends is named David Leventhal. Not the same name, but close enough. We both went to Brown, and were mistaken for each other a lot. Not only in the normal ways (mixed-up mail and phone calls) but also in some rather awkward, ultimately laughable ways. You see, David Leventhal is an extraordinary dancer. I, David Levithan, am not. So people would come up to me and say, "I saw you onstage last night—you seem to be such an oafish, clumsy guy; but when you dance, you're so graceful!" And I'd have to reply, "Um, that wasn't me onstage last night." It was like my alter ego was walking around campus; and eventually, right before I graduated, I called him up and we met up and became great friends. I wouldn't say our book is about How to Love Your Alter Ego, but it is about how another person can unlock—often inadvertently—the potential of your personality. Oh! And the punch line (which I often forget) is that one of David Leventhal's roommates/best friends in college was named... Jon Green. Totally coincidental. But that's a nice lead-in to my question: What has your experience been with other John Greens?

JG: There are, of course, hundreds of us—from real estate brokers in Mississippi to Australian botanists. I've met several John Greens, and they've all been delightful; but I did have one unpleasant run-in a few years ago. There is a John Green in Canada who is a Very Big Deal in the field of Bigfoot research, also known as Sasquatchery. (He is the author of such books as Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us.) A few years ago, I wrote an article for a magazine in which I casually mentioned that Bigfoot is, you know, fictional. A week after the story was published, I received a very angry letter from John Green, noted Sasquatologist, accusing me of having besmirched the good name of John Greens everywhere.

Fortunately, my reputation survived enough for you to want to write this book with me. So we wrote our first chapters with no idea of what the other person was writing and no idea whether the story would work. What were you thinking when I read my first chapter to you and you were introduced to Will and Tiny and Jane and the problem of picking one's friends and/or their noses?

DL: I don't want to sound easy, but you pretty much had me at the opening line. I mean, the minute you read it, I knew your chapter was going to start the book. And then when Tiny appeared... well, I certainly thought, "Oh, I can use this character." What I love is that it's a character everyone would have expected from me; but it's actually you who invented him, and in such an amazing way in relation to your Will. I was also surprised when Neutral Milk Hotel popped up. Because, you know, I'm supposed to be the music obsessive in this relationship. Had I known that I would suddenly be spending five or so years with "Holland, 1945" stuck in my head, I might have reacted differently. (Look, there it is again.)

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Check Out These Books by John Green

Looking for Alaska

by John Green
Ages 14+ | Grades 9+

An Abundance of Katherines

by John Green
Ages 14+ | Grades 9+

Paper Towns

by John Green
Ages 14+ | Grades 9+

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

by John Green and David Levithan
Ages 14+ | Grades 9+