Vienna author wins foreign award

VIENNA – Vienna native, teacher and writer Don Stansberry was named the winner of the Wild Card category of the London Book Festival for his recent thriller.

Currently teaching fourth-grade language at Emerson Elementary School, Stansberry said his fourth and most recent novel “Secret Blood” is his first mainstream book. His first book, about a 12-inch-high wizard, was meant for young adults, he said.

He has lived in Vienna for about 30 years with his wife, Patty, and two daughters, Shay and Sydney, and is from the Fairmont area.

“The premise in (his new book) is the CIA secretly cloned Jesus,” he said. “It’s very respectful to the subject matter.”

Stansberry said he has always thought it was interesting to put people from history and modern life into his novels. He said he hopes the book won the award based on the “interesting premise, fast-paced, a lot of humor in it.”

He has been in the public school system for 23 years and always had an interest in writing, he said.

His latest book was about exploring his ambitions in writing, as his first book was written when he was coaching at Parkersburg High School as a way to “relieve the tension of the season,” he said.

The story is uplifting and a book that should make readers think a lot clearer on their own views, religious or not, Stansberry said. He coached PHS girls basketball for 17 seasons before retiring in 2011. He led the Big Red girls to 263 wins and four state championships (1989,’91,’94 and ’96).

“(The book) made me a lot clearer on my own views,” Stansberry said of his fourth novel. “Hopefully, it makes people question themselves and their beliefs without me trying to spread (only) what I think.”

Winners and honorable mentions for the festival will be honored with a dinner Jan. 24 at the British Library in London. Stansberry said he hasn’t decided if he will attend the ceremony.

Stansberry’s books were all published by Headline Books Inc., a non-fiction and fiction publisher who also specializes in children’s books under Headline Kids.

His other books are two middle school-oriented books, “Inky & the Missing Gold” and “Inky, Oglebee, & the Witches,” and a children’s book, “Crusty,” which was named a finalist in the USA News Best Book Awards.