Our Artists-in-Residence program celebrates the commitment these authors and illustrators have made to the field of children’s literature.
Our 2017 Artists-in-Residency include Laurie Halse Anderson, Kathryn Erskine, Denise Fleming, Matt de la Peña and Varian Johnson. Each artist-in-residence will spend five days at the Highlights Foundation Retreat Center working on projects for publication. To raise awareness about these artists and their upcoming works, we invite other artists – writers, poets, and illustrators – to join them during their residency. While days will be spent on individual projects, mealtimes will bring all artists together to share farm-fresh food and conversation. After dinner, our artists-in-residence will host informal sharing and feedback sessions for all works-in-progress.
Varian Johnson is the author of six novels, including the Jackson Greene middle-grade series. The first novel in the series, The Great Greene Heist, received two starred reviews and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book Selection, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and a Texas Library Association Lonestar List selection, among other accolades. His latest caper, To Catch A Cheat, was released in 2016. Kirkus praised the novel in a starred review, calling it, “A satisfying stand-alone sequel; new readers and old friends will be hoping for further adventures.” Varian has also written for the Spirit Animals middle-grade fantasy series as well as novels and short stories for YA audiences.
Varian was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Varian now lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.