Maureen Johnson Biography
In her own words:
I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I decided to be born during a
massive snowstorm. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. I am an only child,
which means that I know how to play Candyland by myself.
I was always one of those reading and writing kids. After a little dalliance
with astronomy (I had a glow in the dark star chart) and archeology (I had a
little shovel), I declared my intention to become a writer at the age of eight
or nine or so.
Even though I am not Catholic, I attended an all-girl Catholic prep high school.
(This is the kind of thing that passes for a joke in my family.) Despite
slightly gulag-like conditions, total lack of contact with the male sex, and
minor mental scarring, high school was a pretty good experience for me, as I met
several of my best friends there. Captivity can breed this kind of warm feeling.
However, the experience caused me to develop a lifelong aversion to polyester
and knee socks.
I graduated from the University of Delaware, home of the Fighting Blue Hens. I
was a writing major, but I spent most of my time working on shows. After
college, I became the literary manager of a wonderful (but now defunct)
Philadelphia theater company. Soon after that, I moved to New York to study
theatrical dramaturgy and writing at Columbia University School of the Arts. As
a graduate student, I held at least a dozen different jobs to pay my way through
school. These included: working in a haunted house theme restaurant, being a
fake employee for a company to make it look like more people worked there than
actually did, working on a show in Las Vegas that had live tigers and
malfunctioning smoke machines in the same enclosed area, and being an editor.
My first book, The Key to the Golden Firebird, came out in May 2004. I spent the
day of its release walking around New York in incredibly uncomfortable heels,
and almost got arrested in the HarperCollins building for an accidental breach
of security. To cap it all off, I hobbled to my agents apartment, where I
collapsed on her sofa and begged for ice cream. I have tried to celebrate every
subsequent release day in this same inimitable style.
While on a writing fellowship in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I lived in a castle
for a month, I completed final edits on my second book, The Bermudez Triangle. I
also began work on a book called 13 Little Blue Envelopes. The 80 page (single
spaced) journal of my time there provided a good deal of inspiration for Ginnys
travelsincluding the night I got lost on a dark Scottish roadside and thought I
was going to be attacked by badgers.
Devilish, my fourth book, was very loosely based on my Catholic high school
experiences. Sadly, there were no demons, angelic creatures, or walking beds in
my high school. We did, however, have some scary statues and a marriage class
taught by a nun, so it all balances out.
My fifth book, Girl At Sea, was released in June 2007. I refer to this book as
the companion of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, as it is also a European fantasy,
this time taking place off the coast off Italy. It features the three Ps:
pyramids, pirates, and pizza. Also, a fancy tattoo, two handsome guys, one
Swedish-English girl, an awesome bathtub, jellyfish, an exciting historical
backstory in London, tiny paper hats, and DANGER!
So then.. I decided I had to go back and write something about the world I knew ... namely, the scrappy theater world of New York City. Suite Scarlett came out in May, 2008. The sequel, Scarlett Fever, came out on February 1, 2010.
In between, I wrote a book called Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle. Let it Snow became a New York Times Bestseller in November, 2009, which made my mother very happy. I also contributed to Vacations from Hell, along with Libba Bray, Cassie Clare, Claudia Gray, and Sarah Mlynowski. And I have a story in the groundbreaking Zombies vs. Unicorns collection, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.
The sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope, came out in April 2011. In addition to writing books, I was also a scriptwriter for the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Handheld videogames.
I live in New York City, and travel to the UK on a regular basis. I ACTUALLY live on Twitter (twitter.com/maureenjohnson). In 2009, I won Mashables Most Interesting Twitter User to Follow award, which is both awesome and deeply sad.
This biography was last updated on 08/16/2011.
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