I was walking to get pizza and a chasm opened up in the earth and I fell in and now I am at the bottom of this hole, screaming for help. And along comes you. Now, maybe you just keep walking, you know, there’s a strange guy screaming from the center of the earth, it’s perhaps best to ignore him. But let’s say that you don’t; let’s say that you stop. The sensible thing to do in this situation is to call down to me and say “I am going to look for a ladder, I will be right back!” but you don’t do that, instead you sit down at the edge of this abyss and then you push yourself forward and jump. And when you land at the bottom of the hole and you dust yourself off, I’m like “What the hell are you doing, now there are two of us in this hole!” and you look at me and say “Well, yeah, but now I am highly motivated to get you out.”
This is what I love about novels - both reading them and writing them. They jump into the abyss, to be with you where you are.
And I guess from the outside, it seems like, or it probably seems anyway that I jumped into the abyss with Esther. Right, like, here’s this author and he meets this reader of his and she’s a big fan and she’s sick with cancer, and so since he’s so awesome, he jumps down to be with her and he’s like “I’m with you to help you.” No. I wish, like, I wish I were that heroic. But where I’m standing, the true story is that Esther jumped into the abyss with me, because I was the one who was angry and hopeless and saw no meaning in life as it truly exists, and Esther came to me and said “You know, I’m not psyched about having cancer, and I don’t like being in pain all the time, and this is not by any stretch of the imagination an easy life, and I don’t wanna pretend that I’m excited about this, BUT, I like being alive, I am grateful to have loved and to have been loved. I have had a good life.” And that realization, that even though Esther’s life was a short life, it was still a good and rich and full life, that realization was central to The Fault in Our Stars.