Varian Johnson Biography

Short Bio

Varian JohnsonVarian Johnson is the author of Saving Maddie (Delacorte / Random House, 2010), My Life as a Rhombus (Flux / Llewellyn, 2008) and A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid (Genesis Press, 2005). He was born and raised in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. Varian later attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Varian now lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Crystal, and is a member of SCBWI, the Writers’ League of Texas, and The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN). Varian is also the co-founder of The Brown Bookshelf, an online community charged with highlighting established and up-and-coming African-American authors of children’s and young adult literature.


Long Bio

Varian was born in 1977, and grew up in the thriving metropolis of Florence, SC (population 30,248—2000 Census). He has a twin brother and a younger sister, and his parents, unlike many of his characters, were actually pretty good in the parenting department.

Varian excelled in many subjects while growing up, specifically math and science. He was the typical high school “geek”—he played the baritone in marching band, was a member of the Wilson High School Academic Challenge Team, and he counted his Hewlett-Packard 48G calculator as one of his most prized possessions. However, Varian also enjoyed English—especially creative writing.

In 1995, after graduating from high school (as co-valedictorian, along with his twin brother), he packed up his Mercury Topaz and travelled halfway across the country to the University of Oklahoma, where he majored in Civil Engineering. While at OU, Varian joined a fraternity, met a very wonderful woman whom would become his wife, and most importantly (at least in the context of writing), finished the first draft of A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid. (For more about Red Polka Dot, check out the blog post, "2944 Days and Counting".

For being a little-bitty book by a little-bitty publisher, A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid has done pretty well. It made the Essence Magazine Bestselller list in March 2006 (#6 for Paperback Fiction). Later that year, it was published as an audiobook by Recorded Books.

Varian’s second novel, My Life as a Rhombus, is about a math tutor named Rhonda Lee. In 2009, the book was named to the Texas Library Association’s Tayshas High School Reading List and the New York Public Library’s “Stuff For The Teen Age” List. His newest novel, Saving Maddie, will be released in March, 2010.

In the midst of writing books and working full time, Varian also attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he received a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

When he’s not writing about foul-mouthed, angst-ridden teenagers, he designs bridges. If you live in Austin or Dallas, you’ve more than likely traveled over some of them.

For more earth-shaking information about Varian, check out the faqs page. Or check out his blog. Or email him.