1. Books

YA author Maureen Johnson drawn to crime on the page

The author of 'The Vanishing Stairs' is reading true crime and classic crime fiction.
Published Jan. 10, 2019

Maureen Johnson

This month, the young adult author will publish The Vanishing Stair, her second book in the Truly Devious mystery series. Johnson, who holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University, is also recognized for two other series, Suite Scarlett and Shades of London. As an early user of Twitter, she was honored by the editors of Time magazine for having one of "the Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Later this year, Let It Snow, based on an intertwining novel with three stories that she wrote with Cassandra Clare and John Green, will be released as a feature film for Netflix. We caught up with Johnson, 45, by phone from her home in New York.

What's on your nightstand?

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman. I read it before it came out. It's amazing. It is for fans of true crime and fans of mysteries and those interested in the book by Vladimir Nabokov. Anyone who wants to know background of the person Lolita was based on should read it. I had only heard in passing that the book was based on a real story. I don't think a lot of people knew there was a real person.

Sarah is a true encyclopedia of crime and mystery knowledge. The writing is gorgeous and literary. You get this combination of literary style with true crime. Sometimes you don't get true crime and great writing together, but in this you do.

When you were a kid, where would you go for mysteries?

The Hound of the Baskervilles was one I read early. I had a kid's version of it. I loved it, but I read every mystery I could. I devoured Agatha Christie. There was a time where I read two a day. And actually, to this day I have The Westing Game (by Ellen Raskin) on my nightstand. It is my friend. It has to be nearby.