Avid gardener doesn’t let pastime interrupt her writing regimen

By M.V. Moorhead

According to her own press release, Kyrene Corridor resident Vivia Giovannini was born on the Choctaw Reservation in Darlington, Okla., delivered, she says, by a Choctaw midwife known as Big Belly Woman. 

Giovannini grew up in Colorado, spent her early career as an elementary school teacher and trained racehorses with her husband for two decades. 

After separating from her husband, she worked as a commercial printer. 

Outside a lighthouse in Northern California, she befriended a pelican, which she dubbed Vito, and her conversations with this amicable seabird over several years helped lead her back to an early love: writing—first essays, then a novel.

Although Giovannini’s own autobiography sounds ready-made for an Oprah Book Club selection, it isn’t the subject of her debut book, The Glass Ball, a “visionary/metaphysical” novel in which her protagonist, Colorado orphan Timothy Collins, takes a mystical journey through the agency of “the Great Manitou, a mighty eagle and a sentient glass ball.”

WN: What was the specific inspiration for The Glass Ball?

VG: The specific inspiration was a rain dance at the Apache Reservation in Mescalero, N.M. circa 1968-69. Of course a ton of other factors were at play in my mind at the time. That was just a trigger. Dammit! Those guys ruined everybody’s Fourth of July every year with that dance. They changed the weather in spite of all the meteorologists forecasting. 

WN: You’ve mentioned the influence that the works of Teihard de Chardin have had on your work. Who are some other writers who have influenced you?

VG: Other writers I have learned from include Joseph Campbell’s books The Hero of a Thousand Faces, The Mystic Image, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Evan Harris Walker’s The Physics of Consciousness, Jan Pettit’s Utes, The Blue Sky People, Readers Digest America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage, George Tyrrell’s The Book of Thomas the Doubter, and first and foremost, gleanings from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Though I no longer subscribe to any religion, Christianity or any other, my beliefs are reinforced by his teachings that whatever we believe will work for us.

WN: How long did The Glass Ball take to write? 

VG: The Glass Ball began as a short story in 1985. By the time I had 40 pages written, I knew it was not a short story. Because I had a career to pursue in order to support myself, I set it aside. I started writing the novel again in 1991 on Sunday afternoons, but did not seriously give it the necessary attention until I retired in 1998 and moved to Arizona from California. Then I finished it and began revising, editing, cutting, writing queries and all the stuff new writers do, took courses at ASU in Creative writing, revised some more, sent more queries, and finally said to myself, “Self, if these literary agents want to screw around with your prose, let them write their own. This is my story. I will publish without them.” Lucky for me, POD is much less expensive and easier to do than the old vanity press route. So I did it. Received my first copies late February 2004, and have had some great reviews posted at www.bbotw.com, keyword glass, (read more), (write a review). 

WN: Did you have a regimen for writing?

VG: Winter, write in the morning, garden in the afternoon. Summer, the reverse. Gardening is my true love. Getting dirt under my fingernails is more therapeutic than a psychiatric couch. Working among the roses and hollyhocks, trimming the bougainvillea, having humming birds and bees buzz my hair, listening to the voices of my fountains, these things restore my soul. Gardening is not a new spiritual experience. We had the Garden of Eden, Pandora’s Garden, the Garden of Olives, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Garden of the Gods, on and on humanity has found his gods in a garden. Writing drives me, gardening revives me. 

WN: Do you have another writing project in the works?

VG: Yes, I am working on a story based on my brother Warren’s journal of his travels across North America on his custom built Harley Davidson motorcycle. It is titled The Long Road to Yuma.

The Glass Ball is available at www.bbotw.com and at the author’s own website, www.viviagiovannini.com.