Green attended Indian Springs School, a boarding and day school outside of Birmingham, Alabama. During the time he was a student there, a student died under circumstances similar to the character of Alaska.
John Green discussed at a book talk in Rivermont Collegiate on October 19, 2006 that he got the idea of Takumi's "fox hat" from a Filipino friend who wore a similar hat while playing pranks at Indian Springs School. From the same book talk, Green also stated that the "possessed" swan in Culver Creek came from his student life at Indian Springs School as well, where there was also a swan of similar nature on the campus. The two pranks that occur in the book are similar to pranks that Green pulled at his high school. Green has also stated that several of Culver Creek's teachers are direct caricatures of multiple faculty members at Indian Springs.