I’m delighted to welcome Vivien Brown to my blog.
|Vivien Brown - Author|
Hello Viv – I’ve often seen posts you've shared to social media about your family, your books, and your life in general. It's now wonderful to finally have a chance to chit-chat with you, even if it is…only virtually. But before we discover more about your latest release, Be Careful What You Wish For, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: When writing a novel are there any key traits, such as virtuously good or shamelessly bad, you like to give your characters?
Viv: I like to make them as realistic as possible, so they need to have flaws, but the readers also have to care about them and be rooting for them. I don’t believe anyone is wholly good or bad, and the important thing is to show why they behave the way they do – because of their childhood experiences, jealousy, provocation, passion, etc. As my books tend to have contemporary domestic/family settings, my characters have to deal with all the problems of modern life and relationships, ranging from infertility and illness to betrayal, abuse or divorce. Falling for or trusting the wrong person is definitely a recurring trait in my fiction! Ruby makes a big mistake when she hooks up with Michael, who abandons her and their baby, in my first Vivien Brown book Lily Alone, and two sisters come to bitterly regret falling in love with the same man in my most recently published novel No Sister of Mine. Prue certainly does it in spectacular style in my upcoming book when she proposes (and is turned down) in front of the whole village, soon discovering that her childhood sweetheart is not quite who he has been pretending to be.
Arabella: A book has a beginning, middle, and an end. When penning your upcoming release, Be Careful What You Wish For, which part did you find the hardest to write and why?
Viv: Beginnings are easy. I am fired with enthusiasm when I start a book, and tend to launch myself right into the action so the readers can meet the main characters and get a feel for their situation. I also love an intriguing prologue which hints at some disaster to come! I probably re-write that short opening page or two more often and more thoroughly than any other part of the book. It will be the hook to draw readers in, so it has to be exactly right. I usually have a vague ending in mind (although I do tend to change it as I go along) so the aim is to write towards that. I knew this new book would feature two women of very different ages and backgrounds and that the chapters would alternate between them, but I had no idea I would be introducing the intermittent mystery voice of a potential ‘baddie’ until quite a way in, so I had to go back and insert those short chapters, dropping little hints as to who it might be and what their motive was, which was enormous fun. So, for me, and especially for this particular book, writing a good strong middle that forms the bridge between the promise of the opening and a satisfying and believable ending, that keeps things moving along in an interesting way, and that actually makes sense, is by far the hardest part.
Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must-read for you this season?
Viv: There are so many books on my ever-growing TBR pile. Thank heavens for kindle! Some are from favourite authors, some from intriguing newcomers. I buy them when the blurb or cover appeals to me or when the price drops, and I get quite a few to review via Netgalley, and then I struggle to find time to read them all. I do get very caught up in a good series though, like Jean Fullerton’s Ration Book series or Elaine Everest’s Woolworths books, so I do read those as soon as they are published so I can meet the characters again and catch up with their ongoing stories. The one book I am looking forward to more than any other is Elaine’s A Mother Forever, which will take us back a few decades to see Ruby (the grandmother in The Woolworths stories) as a young woman.
Arabella: A slice of Chocolate Cake, a piece of Fruit, or Burger and Fries?
Viv: Fruit is ok, but just part of a normal daily diet and not what I would call a treat. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am chocolate obsessed. It’s my favourite can’t-do-without food, and I eat it all the time, every day! But chocolate cake doesn’t hold quite the same thrill as chocolate itself, so lovely though cake is, I will go for the burger and fries as my guilty pleasure, so long as it’s either a McDonalds or Wimpy and has cheese and loads of ketchup included.
Arabella: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their writing journey?
Viv: Be patient! It took me a long time to get a publishing contract for a novel. A lot of it is luck, writing the right book at the right time, but mainly it is about getting good at what you do, and that means taking the time to learn your craft, listening to advice, reading as much as you can in the genre you intend to write, and researching to find exactly the right agent or publisher who will love your book as much as you do. I started out with magazine short stories before I took the step of trying longer fiction, but I know many novelists say they can’t imagine telling an entire story in only 1000 words, so it doesn’t work for everyone. But those years taught me so much about studying the market, working with an editor, cutting and editing my own work, and writing to deadlines and guidelines, all really useful to me in my later career,
Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?
Viv: I am really looking forward to launching this new book in September, straight in at a bargain 99p for the e-book which should help sales. There will then be more stand-alone novels to come, hopefully at least one per year, but I have no plans to write a series. I am however experimenting with re-introducing some characters from earlier books into later ones, sometimes just in minor roles, so readers can catch up with how they are doing. I already did it sneakily in Lily Alone by having my nurse Laura treat an attempted suicide patient who had slipped in from one of my earlier books, Losing Lucy, written when I was still calling myself Vivien Hampshire. I am now halfway through writing a novel that brings back several of the major characters from Lily Alone in a new story set three years later, mainly in Brighton, although Shelling, created as Prue’s home village in Norfolk for Be Careful What You Wish For will make an appearance again too. I have also just written the prologue for the book after that, the idea for which is still at the bubbling-under stage. And in spare moments I have been writing a few more short stories and (for a bit of light-hearted fun) some simple rhyming poems for The People’s Friend.
Thank you for sharing some of your writing secrets with your readers, Viv. I’ll keep an eye out for the recommendations on your TBR (To Be Read) pile, and when next in a newsagents shop or a superstore, I’ll search for your published poems and short stories between the pages of The People’s Friend. With no pun intended, best wishes for your latest release, Be Careful What You Wish For
About the Author: Vivien Brown
|Vivien Brown - Author|
Originally trained in finance and banking, but more recently working with young children and their families in libraries and children’s centres, Vivien started her writing career, using her then name of Vivien Hampshire, with a 150-word paragraph that won the Mail on Sunday ‘Best Opening to a Novel’ competition in 1993, although the completed book was never published. Since then she has sold more than 140 short stories to UK women’s magazines and 250 articles about working with children to professional nursery and childcare magazines, and has had two novels and a pocket novel published as Vivien Hampshire, along with a non-fiction book on how to ‘crack’ cryptic crosswords.
As Vivien Brown, she has had three women’s contemporary novels, Lily Alone, Five Unforgivable Things and No Sister of Mine published by One More Chapter, all with domestic drama/family relationship themes. Her fourth, Be Careful What You Wish For, comes out on 26 September 2020 in e-book, with the paperback to follow at Christmas.
Vivien lives in Uxbridge, Middlesex with her husband and two cats. She has IVF twin daughters, now grown-up, and two young granddaughters who keep her busy and entertained. She is expecting her first grandson in early December. When not writing she loves reading, watching TV quizzes, hospital and period dramas, and tackling and compiling tricky crosswords, many with personalised clues which clients commission as gifts. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a fellow of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ).
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Book Blurb: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Two strangers. Two very different lives. A chance to escape…
Veteran stage actress Madi needs to escape from her lonely London life. The showbiz world is wearing thin. Estranged from her only son and still recovering from a traumatic breast cancer operation, she’s started to forget things and has the strongest sense she is being watched…
Prue feels suffocated by her claustrophobic village life, especially when she is humiliated in the most public way. Now Prue is desperate for anonymity whatever the cost.
A life swap seems the perfect escape for both women. But will changing places solve their problems? Or will happiness come at a dangerous price?
RELEASE DATE: 26 September 2020.
LINK TO PRE-ORDER: http://bitly.ws/9dDv