Among John Green "Nerdfighter" fans, Esther Earl is known as the girl who inspired "The Fault in Our Stars" -- the book is even dedicated to her. Earl died in 2010 at 16, four years after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
A whole new audience will get to know Esther when a collection of her writings, "This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl," is published by Dutton in January 2014. Green will write the foreword. "The Fault in Our Stars" is the bestselling novel about two teens who meet in a cancer support group; a movie adaptation with Shailene Woodley is filming.
Esther first met Green at a 2009 convention of Harry Potter fans. The author has noted that she was an inspiration for the book, but Hazel of "The Fault in Our Stars" is not Esther. "I don't want people conflating Esther with Hazel (they're very different)," he wrote on his blog, "and it's extremely important to me that I not claim to be telling Esther's story. Esther's story belongs to Esther and to her family, and they will tell it brilliantly and beautifully."
Esther developed an online following through her quirky and honest YouTube videos, where she would talk candidly about her struggles. "I sometimes wish I'd never gone through this, and then I realized if that happened, I wouldn't be who I am, and then I get all, 'Oh, that's confusing.' But then sometimes I do wish it never happened, the cancer thing."
Esther's parents, Wayne and Lori, had originally planned to self-publish her letters, journal, entries and short stories. "She would have loved to be an author," said Lori. After they showed the manuscript to Green, he shared it with his editor, who wanted to publish it. The book will have family photographs and a focus on the last two years of Esther's life. Wayne told USA Today that "it's our way of holding on to her and sharing all the love she had."