Vivien Brown AuthorVivien Brown
Jul 2nd, 2017

This evening in the Library we have Vivien Brown who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into their life as an author.

A bit about “Lily Alone�

What sort of mother would leave her all alone... a gripping and heart-wrenching domestic drama that won't let you go.

Lily, who is almost three years old, wakes up alone at home with only her cuddly toy for company. She is afraid of the dark, can't use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers.

But why is Lily alone and why isn't there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat upstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor below? Or the grandmother who no longer sees Lily since her parents split up?

All the while a young woman lies in a coma in hospital - no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy... and for Lily, time is running out.

A bit about Vivien:

Hello. Those who read women's magazine fiction may already know me as Vivien Hampshire, after twenty years of my short stories appearing regularly in most of the weeklies, including Woman's Weekly, The People's Friend and My Weekly. Now I am moving into novel-writing and tackling some deeper issues, hence the switch to a new name - which happens to be my ‘real' one, since I got married three years ago.

 What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?

For me, it has to be the giant leap from short stories to novels. For years I have been able to tell a story in just a thousand words or maybe two, encompassing a problem to be overcome, a handful of characters at most, lots of emotion, and a satisfying and positive (usually romantic) ending. I know that's what a novel needs too, but spreading all that out over 100,000 words feels like a huge mountain to climb sometimes. I am now into creating longer time-spans, sub-plots, themes, structure, secondary characters - and there is generally a lot more going on! It's been a steep learning curve, but the basic storytelling and character development are the same; they just go deeper. Meeting and talking to other novelists, belonging to a local writers group, and joining the Society of Women Writers and the Romantic Novelists Association, has been enormously helpful, in terms of feedback, advice and support. I even met my Harper Impulse editor for the first time at last year's RNA conference and, without that lucky connection, there would probably be no book! The biggest negative is the long time a novel takes to plan, write and sell, with no guarantee anyone will like it when it's done and no income for ages. I could write and sell a short story in days sometimes, and have the money in the bank within the month. Those were the days!

Do you have a favorite time of day to write?

For years I  had to squeeze my writing in during the evenings and weekends, fitting it around work and family life, so once the dinner was done and kids out of the way, 9pm became my writing time, often going on until well after midnight if a deadline was approaching or an idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go. My life is very different these days, with the children grown up, a new home and husband, and no going out to work every day, but my brain can't seem to shift into a new pattern! It is great to have the freedom to sit at my desk any time I want to, but it's taking time to alter the habits of a lifetime. There are always distractions when working at home, and I am slowly learning to ignore them, although writing out in the sunshine, using my new laptop sunshade, is wonderful!

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I have always preferred Facebook to Twitter. I find it easier to get into conversations and follow threads, and there is no restriction on counting characters, which is great! My Facebook newsfeed is a mix of real-life friends, family and writing connections, but I like that. Readers get to see a little of the real me, and you never know who might share your writing news with their friends too. I belong to lots of different writer and reader Facebook groups too, where I can share news, celebrate successes and have a moan with people who understand and care! I do use Twitter to send out little bits of news, and I pop the occasional book cover photo on Instagram too. Now I am a published author I appreciate the fact that I have to be seen to be everywhere!

If you weren't an author, what would you be up to?

Until recently I was working with very young children, all under school age, and writing in my spare time. I gave it up to concentrate on my writing but still miss it, and that is definitely where I would still be if I had chosen to go on working. My job was to introduce the kids to the magic of reading and to encourage them to explore and enjoy books of all kinds, through library story-times and visits to nurseries, while also running training sessions for parents who lack confidence when reading to their kids or, mainly through coming from other cultures and ethnic backgrounds, are not aware of the importance of books or the role of libraries. I gave out free ‘Bookstart' packs of books to babies too. What a great job that was!

It's the last day and the earth is facing oblivion - what book would you read?

I adore Jane Austen, so I think it would have to be ‘Persuasion'. I love a good romance, with obstacles thrown in the way , and that feeling of longing and desperation to find out if the two main characters will get together at the end or not. Quite appropriate, maybe, for an end of the world moment when all you really need is the right person at your side and to know you love each other. Life ending in the same way a good book should!

Please tell us what you are working on or your latest published work

My first novel as Vivien Brown has just been published in ebook format by Harper Impulse, with paperback to follow in October. ‘Lily Alone' looks at what happens when a young mother leaves her toddler daughter at home alone and doesn't come back. Sometimes the most terrible things can happen in moments...

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