Bestselling author John Green celebrated the release of his latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, at a launch party on October 10 at Town Hall in New York City. The multimedia event featured a reading from the book, an audience Q A, and musical performances with fellow Vlogbrother Hank Green.

Hundreds of his fans, known as Nerdfighters, poured into the auditorium when the doors opened, getting a first look at the book, autographed copies of which were supplied by the Strand Bookstore, and posing for selfies as they waited for their favorite author to take the stage. Green began by discussing the personal story behind his book, the much anticipated follow-up to his bestselling The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012). (If fans were impatient for this next book, so was Green. “It was a long six years; I guess all six-year periods are,” he joked.) Green, who has been open about his lifelong struggle with OCD and anxiety, stated that there is some of his experience in the story of 16-year-old heroine Aza Holmes. Part of the challenge of writing the novel lay in translating abstract thoughts and emotions into words. “I lacked language for the fear,” Green said. “I can say what it felt like, but it’s very hard to say what it was or, for that matter, what it is.”

The book follows Aza as she investigates the disappearance of a billionaire, while fending off intrusive thoughts. But any similarities between Aza and another literary sleuth by the name of Holmes end here. According to Green, Aza’s particular mental illness doesn’t help her crack the case: it’s “uniquely unhelpful.” His portrayal of Aza is in part a reaction to what he described as “a tendency to stigmatize and romanticize” individuals coping with mental health issues. While Green is wary of equating the act of reading with empathizing, he stated, “I’ve found that the best way to improve my listening is through stories.” He encouraged young people who may be facing difficulties to seek treatment. “There is hope,” he said.

And Now for Something Completely Different

The author then brought to the stage his brother Hank, who delivered a tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint presentation on taxonomy dressed in full turtle costume as Dr. Lawrence Turtleman. After a quick costume change, Hank returned for a live session of “Dear Hank John,” in which the brothers traded banter and answered questions from the audience. The duo offered such observations as “babies are objectively terrifying,” and other words of advice.

Next, Hank Green brought out his guitar for some original science-themed songs, with many fans cheering and joining in at full volume. On a quieter note, John Green offered a song in tribute to his late friend and fellow children’s writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who passed away earlier this year. A few additional tunes, including a rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” rounded out the evening.

The Turtles All the Way Down tour’s next stop: Washington, D.C., with 17 additional cities scheduled, for a total of 19 tour stops and dates.