HI, I’M VONA
I was born in America’s bicentennial year, six months before Jimmy Carter was elected president. In other words, I’m getting old and have gray hair.
I was an imaginative kid, inventing stories that sometimes got me into trouble. I had to learn that making up a story about someone and repeating it as truth wasn’t something those around me always enjoyed, especially if it involved (as it often did) someone getting eaten by a bear.
I began writing books in earnest after I was married and grown. I wrote a novel or two every year for several years, stuffing them into a password protected folder on my hard drive when complete. It took me a long time to work up the nerve to allow family members to read what I had written. My husband and children encouraged me to share my work with a broader audience, so here we are. (It’s scary!)
How do you pronounce Vona? V-AW-N-AH. It rhymes with Donna. The ‘o’ in Vona can be hard to pronounce if you aren’t an American English speaker. This might help. I do not pronounce it like this, but don’t worry, I answer to anything that comes close.
Is Vona your real name? No, it’s a nom de plume (pen name) made from part of my maternal grandmother’s name, LaVon (LUH-VAWN). Stewart is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name.
What is your real name? My real name is Jessica.
Why do you use a pen name? Because I never liked the idea of my real name ‘up in lights,’ so to speak.
Where do you live? I live with my husband and children in Idaho where the winters are long and cold, and the summers short and mild. We live out in the country where there is no such thing as rush hour traffic.
Hobbies? Reading and napping. Does that sound boring? Never fear, I also enjoy reading and napping while camping in adventuresome places. My kids enjoy snowboarding in the winter and swimming in the summer.
Likes/Dislikes? I love dark chocolate — especially the ridiculously expensive kind with little toffee bits inside. I greatly dislike spiders who wander inside instead of staying outside in the garden where they belong.
Kryptonite? Math, dates, appointments, time… anything to do with numbers. I have dyscalculia, which is a sort of cousin to the better known dyslexia. Dyscalculia isn’t as well known or studied, but I’ve had it my whole life, and even as an adult I still have to work harder than others to remember math facts, read an analog clock, count out change, double a recipe, and remember appointments and birthdays.
Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert. I have some extroverted tendencies that come out when I’m nervous, but I’m a homebody at heart.
Hogwarts house? Ravenclaw. I’m an over-analytical, deep thinking book worm, and I can come on strong during debates. I loooove researching and learning, though I’m not very good at riddles, so I might have trouble getting into Ravenclaw tower from time to time. #potterhead
Favorite Fantasy Reads:
- The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix
- Nevermoor Series by Jessica Townsend
- The Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
- The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge
- Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
- The Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
- The Fablehaven & Dragonwatch books by Brandon Mull
- The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- His Fair Assassin Series Robin LaFevers
- An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir
- The Blackthorn Key books by Kevin Sands
- The Burning Sky Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
- and many more.
Favorite Classic Reads:
- Wives and Daughters & Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Persuasion by Jane Austen (I love them all, but Persuasion is my favorite)
- A Room with a View by E.M. Forrester
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes (9 books) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Complete Anne of Green Gables Series (8 books) by LM Montgomery (Also check out Emily of New Moon, Pat of Silver Bush, The Blue Castle, and everything else she’s written, ever)
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Half Magic (7 books) by Edward Eager (delightful read alouds)