John Green was born August 24, 1977, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He spent the formative years of his youth primarily in the southern United States. While an adolescent, Green attended Indian Springs boarding school outside of Birmingham, Alabama, and then he went on to study at Kenyon College, where he double-majored in English and Religious Studies. Upon graduating from Kenyon College Green initially intended to become Episcopalian Minister. Following that path, he enrolled at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Before starting his Episcopalian studies at the university, Green served as a student chaplain at a local children’s hospital, where he worked with terminally ill youth. This experience proved pivotal in helping him decide to end his pursuit of the ministry and focus his ambitions on becoming a fiction writer instead.
As far as the conventions of being a fiction writer go, Green is certainly not the stereotypical reclusive author. On the contrary, Green has deliberlately developed a digital following among young adults, with his fans known collectively as Nerdfighters. One of the stated attributes of Nerdfighters is their desire to increase awesome and decrease suck, and the ways they've tackled this challenge include raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty in the developing world and planting thousands of trees across the planet. One pervasive hallmark of the Nerdfighters is their truly global quality. Green’s novels have been published in over a dozen languages, and that reach shows in the Nerdfighter's nationally diverse membership base. It also comes across in the inspiring consciousness Nerdfighters display when it comes to awareness of global issues.
Green truly thrives on the Internet in a way few other novelists do. Much of his digital popularity derives from his celebrity status as a vlogger (video blogger), an enterprise he first entered into with his brother Hank. When John and Hank’s powers are combined they become the Vlogbrothers, a quirky, humorous, and smart duo. Beginning in 2007 John and Hank gained Internet notoriety by pledging to cease writing, relying strictly on their YouTube videos as a means of maintaining discourse. John and Hank have since resumed writing, but they still manage to upload two videos a week to their Vlogbrother YouTube channel, which advocates, among other things, the fight for intellectualism. Judging by the fact that the Vlogbrothers have over 1.6 million subscribers, it is fair to say that John and Hank have carved out a substantial niche for intellectualism on the Internet.
The Fault in Our Stars came about as a result of both Green's experience working with terminally ill kids and his encounters with his online fans, and one in particular. Green gives a lot of credit for the novel to his friendship with Esther Earl, the girl to whom he dedicated it. According to Green, Esther was a Nerdfighter who died from cancer in 2010. Green had become very close with Esther, her friends, and her family in the years prior to her death. Although Esther never saw the novel in its published form, Green has revealed that much of The Fault in Our Stars was inspired by Esther’s life and his friendship with her, saying even that without her the novel would not be what it is.
While Green is quick to point out that The Fault in Our Stars is a fictional work, and that there are very real and numerous differences between the novel’s protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, and Esther Earl, he does admit there are some similarities between the two. According to Green, Esther’s biggest contribution to the novel was that he really, really, liked her and was genuinely angry when she passed away. For him, writing the novel was a way of working through his own grief and anger and coming to terms with the loss of a loved friend, who taught him a great deal about the truths, horrors, and clichés that are a part of living with cancer.