werticals said: I live in Orlando (actually Winter Park but what's the difference really) and can't help but compare Dr. Jefferson to Dr. Phillips. Also Auduban Park is surprisingly close the the description of Q and Margo's neighborhood... I'm sure this has been said many times but I felt the need to say it.

Dr. Jefferson is indeed based on Dr. Philip Philips, for whom half of Orlando is named. (Dr. Philips had a legit medical degree from Columbia University, though.) I grew up in Audubon Park (on Leu Road) but based Margo and Q’s neighborhood on the Baldwin Park neighborhood, which was built on the site of the old Orlando naval training center.

The naval training center loomed large in my childhood: Many of my friends’ parents worked on the base, and there was this huge fake ship I could see on my drive to middle school that the sailors-to-be used for practice. Of course, it’s completely insane to build a naval training center in Orlando, which is sixty miles from the coast, but something about these real sailors practicing war on this fake ship really appealed to my feeling that everything was phony and inauthentic and ridiculous.

More than Disney World or Universal Studios, that fake ship anchored in the thick grass of central Florida seemed magical, and I am very grateful to have lived near such beautiful folly. 

Anonymous said: Why isn't there an "Only If You Finished This Is Not Tom" Tumblr?

Because no one’s ever finished it. (…including me.)

youcouldbecleverasvoltaire said: Why wasn't Q in band with Radar and Ben?

I liked the idea that he really had no built-in social network (in the old-fashioned sense of the phrase), that he was friends with Ben and Radar but separated from them for large swaths of time while they were doing band stuff. I needed Q to be isolated because I needed him to see himself in Margo when she talked about her own feelings of social isolation. Instead of actually hearing her when she’s talking, all he’s seeing is himself reflected back, which of course makes him think that he and Margo are perfect for each other.

p.s. Great username!

Anonymous said: Is there going to be a movie or not?!

No, probably not. The people who worked at the studio that optioned Paper Towns and paid me to write the screenplay were not particularly pleased with my first draft, and they really hated my revision.

They felt the first draft was “literary,” which is an insult in the world of filmmaking, I guess, and my attempts to address their concern watered down everything they’d initially liked about the script, and after that, I was pretty pissed off at the head of the studio and it’s safe to say that he was very pissed off at me.

He then refused to pay me the last little pittance of what was owed to me, claiming I hadn’t done work I’d clearly done. I don’t have any particular desire to throw this guy under the bus by naming him, but it was a petulant and childish response to not being happy with the work done by a first-time screenwriter they were paying very (very very) little. There are a lot of petulant children in Hollywood, in my experience.

Anyway, I very happily went back to writing books, which is what I should’ve been doing all along.

Is it possible that someone will improve upon my script—or that a new script will be created from scratch—and there will eventually be a movie? Yes. But it’s very unlikely.

above-afar said: Out of all of your characters, I honestly think that Ben is one of the characters I wish I was friends with most in real life, and I've noticed in AAOK and LFA as well, you often seem to write the main character's best friend as an extroverted, and generally more outgoing type of person than the main character. Is there any specific reason you do this?

Well, I think people who narrate stories tend to be naturally a bit introspective, because the rest of people are busy out, like, living their lives, rather than obsessively trying to chronicle life. This is a very old convention in storytelling, and I certainly didn’t invent it, but it’s always struck me as both enjoyable and authentic. 

I did try to play with it a bit more sophisticatedly in TFiOS, where Hazel is making a journey toward that extroverted kind of life and Augustus is making a journey away from it.

Anonymous said: At the party when Q goes to talk with Lacey in the bathtub you describe her as wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, what exactly is a sleeveless t-shirt?????? Is it a cutoff t-shirt or a tank top? I just think of something called a t-shirt as having sleeves so this description really threw me for a loop . A visual aid would be helpful.

In the screenplay I wrote, Lacey and Q make out in that scene.

But anyway, I imagined one of those scoop-necked cotton tops with relatively narrow straps, I think. The pleasure of writing from Q’s perspective is that you don’t need to use particularly precise language when it comes to girl clothes, because what the hell does he know about girl clothes?

Anonymous said: While reading Paper towns, I just couldn't help but think that it was so selfish for Q to skip his graduation for someone that only paid attention to him once. Maybe because so many family members came to mine it was such a weird decision for him to not show up. Was the decision for Q to skip graduation a way to show that he is not close to his family.

I mean, bear in mind that he thinks this girl is going to die

If I were like, “You can either go to your graduate or potentially keep someone from dying,” you would probably choose the latter, whether you knew the person or not.

Furthermore, it all feeds his (wrong-headed) notion of knight-in-shining-armor-saving-damsel-in-distress heroism, which in Q’s defense is so widely and deeply celebrated in our culture that it would take superhuman effort to escape it.

allofthatblood said: Does Dr. Jefferson Jefferson change his name to "Dr." despite not actually being a doctor because of the whole theme of the novel about people not actually being who they pretend to be, like Margo not actually being the crazy, adventurous, fun-loving girl she says she is? I just started reading the novel for the fourth time and just realized that

Well, I wanted to write—as I often do—about the relationship between given identities and chosen identities.

When you’re a teenager, you have to make a lot of decisions about which of your given identities you’re going to hold onto, and which you’re going to abandon. Like, say you were raised going to church every Sunday. Well, to be honest, you probably didn’t have much say in whether you went to church. But at some point, that WILL be your decision, and that identity will shift from given to chosen.

But there are a billion examples of this in adolescence. And I think that’s why we talk so much about being phony or fake and so on: Teenagers are beginning to realize that these identities are very complicated and fluid, and that can make them feel inauthentic.

So if your name is Jefferson Jefferson and then you go to court and have your name changed to Dr. Jefferson Jefferson, with Dr. as your first name, are you a doctor? Of course you’re not. But then you also are a doctor, because everyone calls you doctor and everyone assumes you’re a doctor. You are something to others but not to yourself, which is an experience a lot of us have as teenagers (and afterward, for that matter). 

Margo especially goes through this, because the way people think of her is not at all the way she thinks of herself, and the interior life people imagine her having is wildly different from her actual interior life. So I wanted to use Dr. Jefferson Jefferson as a way of beginning that book-long conversation about whether your you-ness is imposed from within or from without.

run-in-the-shadow said: So Bluefin doesn't actually exist?

That really depends on how you define “actually” and “exist.”

punkfaemoved said: if Margo is so concerned about fairly capitalizing all words, why doesn't she capitalize letters in the middle of words?

I think she is concerned about the words, not the letters. Maybe I should’ve had her be concerned about the letters. That would’ve been a little more metaphorically resonant.