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For your convenience,

I have a short bio for those of you only mildly interested in who I am, and a massively long one for those of you who are writing book reports or who just like to read bios.

Short Bio:

My name is Maureen Johnson. I am a writer of books and things.

Long Bio:

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 archaeology (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, and working on a show in Las Vegas that had live tigers and malfunctioning smoke machines in the same enclosed area. I was also 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 agent’s 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 Ginny’s travels—including 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 P’s: 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.

Okay, so then . . . I was walking around London, doing research for The Last Little Blue Envelope, when an idea STRUCK me. I went on a historical tour of Parliament to get some background information when I started to notice that the guide kept pointing out things that were haunted. This room was haunted, and that tower, and that old chapel, and that place that’s now a parking lot. Ghosts everywhere.  It bothered me. I felt that these ghosts had no place on my factual, historical tour. And the more they mentioned the ghosts, the more lame the ghosts seemed. They’d make cold spots in rooms. They made doors open. They made stairs creak. This, in my opinion, was not good ghosting. If you’re a ghost, you should be able to do better stuff that cause a draft or open a door. Plus, the English have a system for everything. If there really were all these ghosts malingering on public property, someone would have done something about it by now. So I started to think about this system for dealing with ghosts, and also to think about a ghost that had some character. A ghost you really would not want to deal with. The answer came quickly to mind: Jack the Ripper. He would make an unpleasant ghost.

And so I began what turned into months of research into the history of London, ghost lore, and the Jack the Ripper case files. And the result was . . . The Shades of London series. The first book, The Name of the Star, came out in September, 2011. It was nominated for an Edgar Award, which meant I was invited to a fancy awards banquet where I got to eat a chocolate Edgar Allen Poe head for dessert. The second book in the series, The Madness Underneath, releases on February 26, 2013 in the US, and March 28, 2013 in the UK. (And other worldwide release dates I don’t have yet, but it is published in MANY LANGUAGES.) There will be FOUR books in this series.

Right now I am working on . . . many things. So many things. These things include: the next book in the Shades of London series, the third book in the Suite Scarlett series (yes, it has been a while, but YES, it is coming), and a VERY EXCITING collection of stories called The Bane Chronicles. This is the exciting backstory of Magnus Bane, from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series. I’m writing these with Cassie and Sarah Rees Brennan, and we will release one story a month starting in April, 2013.

What else? Well, in 2012, I was crowned QUEEN OF TEEN in the UK. I have a crown and everything. I reign until 2014. That’s pretty good. In addition to writing books, I was also a scriptwriter for the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Handheld videogames. And, along with Robin Wasserman, I am the chair of the Lit Track of LeakyCon.

I live in New York City, and travel to the UK on a regular basis. I ACTUALLY live on Twitter. I win awards for how much time I spend on Twitter. Time Magazine even named me one of the top 140 people to follow online, and there were celebrities on that list and everything! This is both awesome and deeply sad. I also like Tumblr a lot. And I like you.

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