Kij Johnson
Associate Director

Kij Johnson is an author, editor, publishing production manager, and educator. She received her B.A. degree in "A Cultural History of England to 1066" from the Paracollege at St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 1982, did graduate work in creative writing and literature at the University of Minnesota as well as at KU, then earned her MFA in Creative Writing from North Carolina State University in 2012. She joined the University of Kansas English Department as Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing in Fall 2012 (and was just promoted to Associate Professor), where she's an Associate Professor in the KU MFA in Creative Writing program. Though primarily a fiction specialist, she also offers courses in speculative fiction and related topics.

Since her first sale in 1987, Kij has published three novels, several novellas, and dozens of short pieces to markets including Amazing Stories, Analog, Asimov's, Clarkesworld, Duelist Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy,, and Her first prize was the Theodore A. Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1994 for her novelette in Asimov's, "Fox Magic" - her coming to Lawrence, KS, to receive her honor in 1995 was how she first became involved with the center. 

In 2001 she won the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Crawford Award for best new fantasy novelist of the year, when her novel The Fox Woman was published. Her novel, Fudoki, was a finalist for the 2003 James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the 2004 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Kij was Author Guest of Honor for the 2005 SFRA conference in Las Vegas. In 2009, her story, "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss," won the World Fantasy Award and Asimov's Reader's Award; in 2010, her story, "Spar" (note: not for young readers) won the Nebula Award; in 2011 her story, "Ponies" won the Nebula Award; in 2012, her novella, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award; in 2017, her novella "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" won the Gran Prix de l’Imaginaire for best foreign short work; also in 2017, her novella, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, won the World Fantasy Award for Best Long Work (stand-alone novella). Most recently, her novella, The Privilege of the Happy Ending, also won the World Fantasy Award. Her works have been finalists for many awards.

Her novels include two volumes of the Heian Love/War/Death series: The Fox Woman and Fudoki. She also co-wrote with Greg Cox a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Dragon's Honor; and an e-book anthology of her short fiction, Tales for the Long Rains, from Scorpius Digital. She is currently writing a third novel set in Heian Japan; Kylen, set in Georgian Britain; and another novel or two to be announced soon. Her short-fiction collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, is available from Small Beer Press. Her newest novel is The River Bank, an illustrated sequel to Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.

Before coming to KU, Johnson taught writing and science-fiction writing at Louisiana State University, North Carolina State, and KU, and has lectured on creativity and writing at bookstores and businesses across the country. From 1994-2004, she worked in the high-tech and gaming industries, and served as guest author-instructor for James Gunn's Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop, and starting in 2005 teaches her Novel Writers Workshop and its "Repeat Offenders" Workshop for alums. Since 1999, she has taught a series of writing classes at the GenCon Game Fair. Starting in 2010, she serves as vice chair on the board of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, taking on the role of chair in 2011.

Kij has worked as managing editor at Tor Books; collections and special editions editor for Dark Horse Comics; editor, continuity manager and creative director for Wizards of the Coast; program manager on the Microsoft Reader; and documentation manager at Real Networks. She has also run chain and independent bookstores, worked as a radio announcer and engineer, and edited cryptic crosswords.

Kij moved to Lawrence from Seattle by way of Raleigh, North Carolina, to begin her position as Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing. A few years before that, she took a three-week research trip to Japan. Kij is an avid rock climber and has written numerous essays - and a "This I Believe" podcast - on the topic. Check out her website, which contains news, stories, and much more:

Published Books

Several of Kij's works have also been published in foreign book editions, including short-fiction collections.

Contact Information

Kij JohnsonKU mailing address for JWEMG Center business:

English Department
University of Kansas
Wescoe Hall
1445 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 3001
Lawrence Kansas 66045-7590

Email address:

Personal website


The J Wayne and Elsie M Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is:

Founder James Gunn.
Associate Director Kij Johnson.
Director Chris McKitterick.
...and many more! Visit this page to meet other people at the JWEMG Center.

updated 12/6/2019