Monday, 9 October 2017

Lily Alone by Vivien Brown ~ Q & A with the Author ~ @HarperImpulse

Welcoming Vivien Brown to my blog today following  the "Publication Day" of her Paperback "Lily Alone". She has been kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Welcome Vivien. 

TITLE - Lily Alone

AUTHOR - Vivien Brown

PUBLISHER - Harper Impulse

PUBLICATION DATE - Paperback 5th October 2017

PAGES - 416

BUY LINKClick here


What sort of mother would leave her daughter alone? Would you leave a very young child at home on their own – knowing that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye?

Lily, who is not yet three years old, wakes up alone with only her cuddly toy for company. She is hungry, afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers. In the flat downstairs, a lonely and elderly woman keeps herself to herself but wonders at the cries coming from upstairs. Lily’s grandmother frets that she can no longer see her granddaughter since the child’s parents separated. Lily’s father hasn’t seen her for a while. He’s been abroad, absorbed in his new job and his new girlfriend. 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.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
I started writing poems at about the age of sixteen, and only moved on to fiction in my thirties. Writing was important to me but for too long it remained a hobby, a side line, and although I did start to have a few successes with short stories in magazines, I had no idea just how hard it would turn out to be to get myself, and my work, noticed once I made the decision to take it all seriously. So, if I could go back, the big message would be: Start earlier, treat writing as a job, and give it your all. Don’t let work or family or doubt get in your way, and never use them as an excuse.

What is your favourite childhood book?
I absolutely love picture books. I worked with the under-fives for many years, reading them stories in libraries and children’s centres, organising fun book-related events like outdoor story walks, giving out free Bookstart packs, and advising parents on reading at home. So, I have read literally thousands of picture books, some of them many many times over, and I never tire of them. Picking favourites is hard, but my choices change with circumstances – whether I want to laugh, cry, enjoy the fun rhythm of a great rhyming text, or use a story to help a child deal with one of life’s problems, like loneliness, moving house or grief. I still love the simple magic and old-fashioned world of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, almost 50 years after it was first published, and anything by Julia Donaldson, especially Stick Man, which is a brilliant concept and so cleverly done. My own childhood favourites were the Mr Pinkwhistle books from Enid Blyton, which seem to have been forgotten nowadays in favour of her better known characters like Noddy and The Famous Five.

Do you read your book reviews?
How do you deal with good or bad ones? There is a horrible fascination with reviews that I find it impossible to get away from. Of course, I know that not everyone is going to love my books, but when a one star rating appears on Goodreads with absolutely no written review or comment at all, it’s hard not to want to scream! Not only do I want to ask why, but it lowers the average rating quite dramatically, especially in the early days after publication when the book may only have a handful of reviews. Five star reviews are fantastic, but having too many of them tends to look like an author has enrolled all their friends and family to write them, so I am quite happy to see a good mix of comments and star ratings, provided they are honest and genuine. Being criticised is part and parcel of being a writer, and does sometimes show up a fault or annoying habit that you aren’t aware of but that can be taken on board when writing later books!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have only actually been Vivien Brown since I got re-married three years ago. I spent many years before that writing as Vivien Hampshire, so I am slowly getting used to living, working and writing under more than one name and trying to remember which one I am in any given circumstance! It actually comes in handy now as Lily Alone is a new genre for me and the change of name has helped me to separate my writing into two distinct halves – magazine fiction, non-fiction and lighter rom-coms as Vivien Hampshire, and the new domestic drama novels as Vivien Brown. I also have another (secret!) identity as Rosie Kent, writer of funny poems for children.

What’s the best money you ever spent as a writer?It’s all very well spending lots of money on laptops, notebooks and fancy pens (the traditional idea of what a writer needs), but there is nothing quite as useful as meeting other writers and industry professionals and learning your craft. No amount of expensive equipment will give you talent or teach you what you need to know to become a competent and successful writer in the current publishing climate. Many years ago I took a risk and spent about £300 to go away on a writer’s holiday to Caerleon in Wales, and I learned so much, and met so many useful contacts and new friends, in that one week that I went back almost every summer for years! Nowadays I attend the annual Romantic Novelists Association conference, where I first met my editor at Harper Collins (so it is where Lily Alone in published form was born!), and I am an active member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. The membership fees of both organisations are worth their weight in gold.

Have you ever googled yourself and if so what did you find?
As Vivien Hampshire, and especially when I was a fairly new writer, I googled often. With such an unusual name, most of the results (and they ran to at least 3 pages) were actually about me! I discovered several things I had been unaware of, including that a poem of mine, ‘The mother of the groom’ which had won a Marriott Hotels competition had now found its way (unofficially) onto a wedding website where it was suggested as a reading at weddings. There was also a subsequent totally fabricated interview in an online magazine, purporting to be with me, announcing me as ‘Londoner of the Day’, and discussing my own feelings as the mother of a groom – even though I have no sons, let alone married ones! I also found that a short novel opening I had written and that had won a Mail on Sunday competition was being used in a Cambridge University Press study workbook for adult learners of English. I couldn’t resist buying a copy out of curiosity! As Vivien Brown, it seems I have a namesake who is a renowned doctor and author of medical books in Canada.


Vivien Brown lives in Uxbridge with her husband and two cats. She worked for many years in banking and accountancy, and then, after the birth of twin daughters, made a career switch and started working with young children, originally as a childminder but later in libraries and children’s centres, promoting the joys of reading through story-based activities and training sessions.

As Vivien Hampshire, she has written many short stories for the women’s magazine market and a range of professional articles and book reviews for the nursery and childcare press, in addition to a ‘how to’ book based on her love of solving cryptic crosswords. Now a full time writer, working from home, Vivien is combining novel-writing and her continuing career in magazine short stories with her latest and most rewarding role as doting grandmother to two-year old Penny. 

Connect with Vivien on Social Media ~ FacebookTwitter