By Faith A. Middleton and Lexi Zahrn – Staff Writers
Students are often skeptical of their teachers having lives outside of school, but teachers live for the weekend just as much as their avid learners. Ms. Joanne Nielsen, head of Centennial’s English department, counts down the minutes until the dismissal bell. Contrary to the beliefs of her AP students, Nielsen does not abandon the grading of essays out of laziness; she is occupied with her second job as a romance novelist.
Nielsen writes under the pseudonym of Virginia Cox. She has published a total of eight literary works in the romantic fiction genre. Her ninth novel, Byron’s Call, is set for release this May, just in time for her coworkers to add it to their summer reading lists. The four hundred-fifty page novel focuses on the story of seemingly plain Charlotte Austen and her strained relationship with the sinister and cryptic Fitzwilliam Byron. The novel has, “a healthy amount of heaving bodices,” according to Nielsen. She compares it to famous Nineteenth Century literary works such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Both novels were studied in Nielsen’s Advanced Placement class this semester.
The study of the novels was no coincidence. Nielsen was preparing her students for her novel with a heavy dose of Nineteenth Century propriety and understated romance. She was intending to casually slip Byron’s Call in to the students’ hands without revealing that she was the author, but her success has made it impossible to hide her talents.
“Oh, we’re completely ecstatic!” Nielsen’s agent, Susan Grinblit, gushes. “We’re completely blissed out. Ginny, er- Joanne has already brought the company so much success!” Grinblit revealed “Cox’s” true identity in early February at the Center for Literary Arts press conference in Chicago. She also listed A Sober Miracle and Plain Girl with a Sugardaddy as two of Nielsen’s best selling works. With A Sober Miracle’s release in December of 2011, Ms. Virginia Cox/ Joanne Nielsen achieved a positive New York Times Book Review critique.
Obviously Nielsen has an exciting life outside of the classroom. Her success should inspire her students to dabble in writing, and pursue their own authorial interests. Look for Byron’s Call this May 2012 in a bookstore near you! April Fools!