This is an easy answer. Vienna Lovett is me! Well, you know by now that my name is actually Donna, so where did Vienna come from? This is the story.
THE BEGINNING STORY OF VIENNA
As mentioned in “The Snort’, I loved books, loved reading, and loved being read to. Some of my favorite series growing up were written by authors who used pen names. Nancy Drew series – written by Carolyn W. Keene. Hardy boys – written by Franklin W. Dixon. The Bobbsey Twins – written by Laura Lee Hope. There were many more series that I could mention, but you get the gist. They were not written by one person, but a multitude of writers.
I loved all these stories. I could read one story in a day. I used to visit the local library, riding on my bike all the way downtown Langley, and I would sign out twelve books at a time. The normal limit was three per person, but the library staff new me well, and knew I would probably return all my books in less than a week. It usually only took me 1-2 days to finish my pile.
WINNING A LIBRARY READING CONTEST
I entered a contest that the library had one year, and actually won an award for reading all the children’s books in the library. I wrote down and kept track of every title, and author. Hmm, I wonder where that list is now!
I loved some books so much that I would read them over and over. One of my all time favorites was Pippi Longstocking, and I liked to fancy myself as her, a cast-a-way on a tropical island, being able to do whatever I wanted. Wait, I did do whatever I wanted, when I wanted, ha ha, I was just never on an island!
Another favorite book series were “The Great Brain” by John Dennis Fitzgerald. The main character Tom was so devious, but yet awesome, I really related to him. I probably read these books over 20 times each!
I LOVE SO MANY GENRES OF BOOKS
I also enjoyed reading science fiction, and my favorite author was Ben Bova. I remember the school librarian asking me why I signed the same books out so often. I just enjoyed the stories, and wanted to read them over and over. I still remember the plot of one of the books, and I still wish today that I had a copy of it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my OTHER favorite books, by Enid Blyton. She has a whole wack of series, but my personal favorites were the adventure series, with Philip, Jack, Dinah, and Lucy-Ann. Jack had an amazing parrot named Kiki, who was also a main character, and it was because of these books that I fell in love with birds, and always wanted a parrot!
THE WORST DAY EVER
One day when I was in grade 6 in Mr. Thielmann’s classroom, I was in a particularly good spot in my book. I kept it open to the page I was reading, and would just shove it in my desk whenever I saw him looking my way. I was in a split class 6/7 and so often times when he was teaching the Grade 7 class, we didn’t have to be paying attention to him, so I always kept a book in my desk.
Well, one day I didn’t notice that he had stopped talking, and he had said to the class, “well, everyone, looks like Donna is ignoring me again, reading her book!” Apparently, everyone laughed. He then said, “let’s see how long it takes Donna to notice that we are waiting for her to put her book away”. I guess they waited too long, because I didn’t notice anything, I was so wrapped up in the story.
Suddenly, there was a huge CRACK, and I actually jumped out of my desk chair, and the whole class started laughing. Mr. Thielmann had used his pointer stick and slapped the top of my desk with it, and it actually broke, and that made him even more furious. He stormed over to me, grabbed my book, then stomped over to his desk, and slammed it into a drawer. I can remember turning so red, I was mortified. The next day I asked for my book back, and he huffed and puffed worse than a puffer fish, and shouted out at me that NO I COULD NOT HAVE MY BOOK BACK!
THE PLAN TO GET A COPY OF MY BOOK BACK
So, once school was over, I again biked down to the local library so that I could sign out a different copy. I just HAD to know what happened to the main character! This time I stayed up late, reading under the covers after I had gone to bed, so I could finish it. Thankfully my mom didn’t catch me, and take the second book away as well. I had a streetlight outside my room that I would also try to read by, but sometimes it was just too hard, depending on the size of the font.
MY FAVOURITE SCHOOL MEMORY
When I was in grade seven, my teacher Mr. Johnston loved reading to us. One of the stories he read to us became my most favorite story in the world – Watership Down. Mr. Johnston also loved reading in different “voices” and he sure reminded me of my mom, and our times reading together as a child. I just loved this story, and I went out and bought a copy do so I could read it over and over. As a side note, I read this story to my son, and it is now HIS favorite story too! I have read this book now over 50 times.
READING IN HIGH SCHOOL
Once I got to high school, my friends used to go to the library, and pick out the fattest books they could find, and give it to me to read to see how long it would take. It was during those years that I read such classics as Gone With the Wind, The Count of Monte Cristo, North and South, and the Thorn Birds.
ANOTHER EMBARASSING TEACHER MOMENT
During one class in grade eight English, we were given a novel and told to read it. It was a fairly short paperback, and I read it quickly. I was doing other stuff when the teacher walked over to me and asked why I wasn’t reading. I told her I had finished the book, but she didn’t believe me.
I remember her saying ‘uh huh, you’re so amazing that you can just read a whole book just like that?” and she snapped her fingers. I said yes, which was not the right answer she wanted to hear, and the class gasped. I sat there waiting to see what she would do, and she stormed over to my desk, and started to ask me questions about the book.
The problem was, I answered each and every single one of her questions. She kept asking. I kept answering. The class actually groaned because then she asked a question that gave away the ending, and some of the other kids said, “don’t ask her, I’m not there yet, don’t ruin it!”
She asked me anyway, so when I gave the correct answer, she did an about face, walked up to the front, and carried on as if nothing happened. I don’t think she liked me very much after that, I could read it in her body language towards me. I had just called her bluff, and made her look bad. Oh dear. The things that happen when you are a speed reader. Not only was she mad, but the rest of the class was mad at me too, because I had just given away the ending. This is not a great memory for me. Sigh.
When I finally reached grade eleven, I could actually take a creative writing course, and I was thrilled to bits. I remember getting so upset when I would be writing furiously all class, and the bell would ring, and I was right in the middle of an important part of my story. I distinctly remember trying to write down the rest of my thoughts on paper while walking through a very crowded and noisy hallway. My classmates teased me so much! I did manage to get an A every semester, and my usual mark was between 92-98% for all my stories. My teacher tried to convince me to send some for publication, but I declined, because I thought my parents would freak out because I had used some swear words in my story, and I didn’t want them to know.
As I got older, I started reading all the library books that were at my church, and got into romantic novels. I also loved Phyllis Whitney, and then got hooked on Agatha Christie. There wasn’t any book I wasn’t willing to read. I loved Sherlock Holmes, and was devastated when his character was killed off. I was so thankful for all the fans who protested, and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought him back to life. PHEW!
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE AUTHORS AND BOOK SERIES
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I loved the Harry Potter Series. These were not written when I was a kid, I was twenty nine when they were published. The first book I ever read was book four, (given to me as a Christmas gift) and it consumed me. I couldn’t stop reading until I finished it. I cried when Digory was killed. The next day, I rushed to the store and bought the rest of the series that was available. Wow. Talk about great books? LOVE THEM – ALL OF THEM!
I also want to mention that there are SO MANY MORE of my favorite books, too many to mention. I collect first edition hardcovers of my favorite authors, and have over 1000 books. I love them. I read them over and over and over again. Did I mention that I also love Tom Clancy? Arthur Hailey, Sue Grafton, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, Rosemunde Pilcher, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, David Baldacci, just to name a few more! There are so many great writers out there. Ahhhh.
COMING UP WITH PEN NAMES
Anyhow, back to the past. I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and I would sit for hours in my bedroom with my back against the window and come up with pen names. My favorite names were Barbara, and Daphne. These are very old fashioned names, but at that time in my life, Barbara Eden was the main character on “I Dream of Jeannie” – and she was a beautiful blonde, and so her name was foremost in my thoughts. Daphne was the redhead on Scooby Doo, and I thought she was so beautiful with her red hair and purple dress. As I grew older, I started coming up with other names too, and one of my favorites was Farin James.
When I finally wrote for the first time since high school, I wrote a novel with the intention of entering a publishing contest. When it came time to send it in, I just couldn’t break free from the dream I had of always using a pen name. Of course I had grown up and out of love with the names Barbara and Daphne (which I always pronounced in my head as “Da FEEN”), and so I needed to find something else.
SETTLING ON VIENNA
Perhaps some of you readers have watched the TV show, “The Bachelor”, but I must confess that I have never seen it. One day while I was in the line-up at Safeway, I saw the National Enquirer newspaper and on the front page was a picture of Jake and Vienna. I think they were breaking up or something. This was back in 2010. As I stood there staring at it, suddenly it hit me – VIENNA! Vienna sounded like the perfect pen name! When it came time for me to send my novel in to the contest, part of me wanted to use the pen name, and part of me wanted to use my real name, so I compromised and kept my married last name. Vienna Lovett the author I had just become.
I ENTERED A NOVEL WRITING CONTEST
My first novel I wrote and had published without anyone but my editor reading it is called “Jakob Jones, Bible Explorer – Book 1” – by Vienna Lovett. It is meant to be a series, with a target audience of teens 13-18 years old. I was so nervous about writing, that I just couldn’t let anyone read my manuscript in case they had a negative reaction to it. I sent the novel in for the competition, and we took pictures to celebrate my achievement!
I didn’t win, but they phoned me and told me that they had loved it, and wanted to publish it. Did I want to proceed?
Oh yes I did!
I AM VIENNA
I had my book published. I am an author!
I had a book signing at Chapters/Indigo, and they carry it there, isn’t that exciting! I also had a book signing at my church, Horizon in Surrey!
And now you know who Vienna Lovett is.
BOOK 2: Jakob Jones, Bible Explorer: RISKY RESCUE
p.s. Book 2 is in the works! Stay tuned, I’m trying to turn my writing back on, but this blog is keeping me rather occupied!