Relive the teen experience with Paper Towns
YOUNG adult fiction writer John Green has a way of capturing the teenage experience, without simplifying it.
And now the creative team behind the successful big-screen adaptation of Green's The Fault In Our Stars has adapted another one of his novels.
Model Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff star in Paper Towns, a coming-of-age story about a young man who embarks on a road trip with his friends to find the missing girl next door.
In this Q&A, Green talks about his inspiration for Paper Towns, its lead character Margo (Delevingne) and getting to the emotional truth of the high school experience.
Q: Where do you find your voice for your novels?
A: Well I think like the truth of high school experiences is universal. Like the emotional truth, the real deep down truth where it matters. You know, whether we talk in real life to each other or over text or over Snap Chat or Yik Yak, or whatever they're doing these days, the emotional truths survive all of that, and my hope is that my stories can tell those kinds of truths.
The truths about how it feels to fall in love for the first time, how it feels to experience grief for the first time, how it feels to have real friendships for the first time. And you know I have a lot of fond memories of my own high school days in those respects, and terrible memories, and I guess I try to bring those into the stories.
Q: What was the inspiration for Paper Towns?
A: When I was a teenager I did a terrible job of thinking of the young women I liked. I did a terrible job of imagining the young women I liked as people. Like I thought of them as, you know, something much more than human, and that's dehumanising actually.
It seems like putting someone on a pedestal would be a kind thing to do to them, but actually it's a very cruel thing to do to them because it denies them their humanity and their complexity.
So I guess the initial inspiration for this story was thinking about my own past and how difficult it had been for me to think of girls as like actual humans, and how destructive that was for me and for them.
Q: What was your inspiration for the character Margo?
A: I was falling in love with the woman who is now my wife when I first started writing Paper Towns and, you know, not to brag but my wife is an incredibly interesting, complicated, brilliant person.
She's fierce and she refuses to back down, but you know she's also incredibly generous and kind, and I was fascinated by that. It was the first time I had a relationship with someone where I was able to think of them as a really complex person. And so I think I tried to bring a lot of that to Margo. But I also tried to bring a lot of the amazing people who I knew in high school; the people who just seemed to have it figured out more than I did.
Q: What do you want people to take away from the film?
A: I want people to watch Paper Towns and leave the theatre feeling like the memories of high school, like the best and the worst of it. Like what it was like to be young and in love, or to be young and to think you're in love. What it was like to have those first great friendships, those incredibly special friendships that you have when you're a teenager. To feel all of that and to feel the big, crazy, emotional mix of it. That's what I want people to leave the theatre feeling.
Paper Towns is in cinemas now.
Stars: Cara Delevingne, Nat Wolff, Halston Sage, Cara Buono.
Director: Jake Schreier
Reviewer's last word: Model Cara Delevingne graduates to leading woman in this adaptation of John Green's best-selling coming-of-age novel.
Star profile: Cara Delevingne
Quirky fact: As a fashion model she was the face of Burberry's beauty campaign and walked the catwalk at the 2012 Victoria's Secret fashion show.
Best known for: Anna Karenina, The Face of an Angel, Suicide Squad, Pan.
If you like this movie you'll like these: Southpaw, Trainwreck, Aloha.
Quote: "The energy you give off is the energy you receive. I really think that, so I'm always myself - jumping, dancing, singing around - trying to cheer everybody up."