Guest Feature

Varian Johnson–What Was on His . . .

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Varian Johnson

Welcome to the newest guest edition of What Was on His . . . This time with Varian Johnson!

Varian is one of those rare combinations of man of science and creative soul—an engineer and bridge designer by day, and an author by night. So far, he has three novels to his name: A Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid, My Life as a Rhombus, and Saving Maddie. His much anticipated middle-grade novel, The Great Greene Heist will be released this coming summer by Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic Press! Reflecting his dedication to creating characters as diverse as the American population, Varian’s latest work has been billed by his editor, Cheryl Klein, as ‘a contemporary Ocean’s 11 set in a middle school.’ I, for one, can’t wait to read!

 But first: Varian himself. What has this very busy author and bridge designer been up to? Read on to find his own words and What Was on Varian Johnson’s . . .

Agenda: The toughest thing about juggling two demanding jobs (writing and engineering) and a family is that there’s always something to do—I’m always bouncing between tasks, trying to get everything done. With the holidays coming up, work is crazy, as we’ve got a hundred or so deadlines we’re trying to make before everything shuts down. On the writing front, I’m juggling two deadlines, both coming quicker than I’d like. And as far as family is concerned, my two-year-old couldn’t care less about everything on my agenda. Hmm…maybe she’s on to something.

Desk: Right now, my desk is populated with all the fun books I want to get to, as soon as I finish all the things on my agenda. Yummy books include E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, Trent Reedy’s Divided We Fall, and Anne Ursu’s The Real Boy. My desk also contains my engineering and my writing laptops. One’s a PC and the other is a Mac, but they somehow find a way to live in harmony. Additionally, there’s an empty bag of gummi bears that I may or may not have finished off just 20 minutes ago.

Nightstand: More books…but these are my fall-back books, the novels I always turn to when I’m looking for something familiar and comforting and just plain good. Those books include Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak, and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. My nightstand also contains the eReader that I always forget to charge up.

Playlist: Because of Christmas, I’ve been rocking an oldie-but-goodie from my high school years, Boyz II Men’s Christmas Interpretations (and I don’t care what anyone says, it counts as real Christmas music). I’ve also been listening to Herbie Hancock’s Fat Albert Rotunda. I love its fusion of jazz and soul.

Wish List: A 28-hour day, a never-ending pot of coffee, and fat-free gummi bears that don’t taste like cardboard.

Refrigerator Door: My kid’s school lunch menu and activities schedule. She had macaroni and cheese last week, and she still gets a daily nap. Must be a nice life.

Shopping List: Milk. Always Milk. And gummi bears.

Car Dashboard: Way too much dust.

Varian Johnson The Great Greene Heist Varian Johnson

To keep up to date with Varian Johnson, follow him at and on twitter at @varianjohnson. And be sure to pre-order The Great Greene Heist, which you can do by clicking below:

Please plan on stopping by again on January 10, when author and editor Jill Santopolo will join us for What Was on Her . . .

3 thoughts on “Varian Johnson–What Was on His . . .

  1. Thank you for another lovely insight in a writer’s life, Sandra and Varian. I’m always happy to find out other tech-minds love this writing game of ours. I was wondering, Varian, does crafting a story, for you, have the same characteristics as engineering a bridge? Like for me crafting a story is like the construction of a house.

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