Release date: January 30, 2018
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 isn’t there anyone who can help her? What about the lonely old woman in the flat downstairs who wonders at the cries from the floor above? 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…
Happy US publication day to Vivien Brown, her novel Lily Alone is out today and to celebrate I have an interview to share.
Q & A
What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
I gave up paid employment four years ago to concentrate on my writing, so I now have a choice about when to write instead of squeezing it all in late at night or at weekends. Ideally, I love to write in the afternoons, in a sunny garden with a cold drink and a bar of chocolate to hand, but London weather doesn’t offer many opportunities like that, so I use a bedroom turned into a study, overlooking the garden, with a small TV, all my books and writing stuff around me, and two goldfish for company.
How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?
I loved English lessons at school and started writing poems at about the age of 16. My first short story to appear in a UK women’s magazine while I was a stay-at-home mum of twins gave me such a thrill that I wrote more, and more, and have had around 140 published now under my former name of Vivien Hampshire. I have also had more than 250 articles published, largely about working and reading with kids. Novels crept up on me slowly. My first two were learning experiences, appearing as ebooks only under my old author name, but I now have a ‘real’ UK publishing contract as Vivien Brown and I’m being read in both ebook and paperback, so I couldn’t be happier!
Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?
I read a real mix of novels, about fifty a year – from romance and sagas to psychological thrillers, American and British, but almost always books written by women and with strong women as their main characters. Some of my favorites in recent years have been Clare Mackintosh, Milly Johnson, Jean Fullerton, Veronica Henry and Iona Grey.
Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
Launching Lily Alone to an American audience on 30 January is exciting but nerve-wracking, and I have been told the rights have been sold to a Turkish publisher too, so I am looking forward to seeing it in translation, even though I won’t understand a word! My next novel will be out in the UK later in 2018 and is currently at the editing stage. I haven’t even seen a cover for it yet, but it is called Five Unforgivable Things and will look at the five pivotal moments in a long marriage when mistakes were made and things just might have turned out differently if only…
Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
I write very much about the world I know. London-based contemporary relationship stories, with all the drama that arises when people meet, marry, have children, divorce or make life-changing decisions and mistakes. I worked in banking, and then with children under the age of five for a long time, so these regularly feature in my stories, as do lovable old ladies, based loosely on my own grandmother! A story for me starts with a character or an incident, and I rarely know exactly what is going to happen along the way until I actually write it.
Favorite character from one of your own novels?
I like most of my characters, but I do have a soft spot for Agnes, the elderly neighbour in Lily Alone, who is widowed and lonely, suffering from arthritis, living somewhere she really doesn’t want to be, but has a very good and loving heart. Of course, things will work out well for her by the end of the book. And her old cat Smudge, who plays an important part in the story. I love him too!
Preferred method for readers to contact you?
I use twitter, facebook, email, and have a blog (which I don’t add to very often), but any way is good for me. Hearing from readers is a lovely part of the job. Or write a review – always so much appreciated.
On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Taking a year to think, plan, write and edit a book from idea to finished manuscript works for me. I’m sure it can be achieved more quickly, but I like to feel comfortable and unrushed, leaving me time to have a life away from writing too.
If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?
Probably still working with very young children. It was a dream job, introducing them and their families to the magic of books, reading stories and leading rhyme sessions to groups in libraries, organising picture book-related events, running training courses about reading to children, and giving away free books. I did it for 12 years, in an area of London where there were a lot of families from other countries and cultures, or with very little income, for whom reading had never been a large part of their lives. I only left because the urge to write was so strong.
What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
When someone I have never met reads my novel and leaves a review telling me it was gripping or nail-biting and they couldn’t put it down. That’s the sort of writing I set out to achieve and it’s lovely to know I have managed it. I just hope that American readers will enjoy the book as much as British ones have.
Huge thanks to Vivien for joining me today, you can catch her on social media at the following links.
Amazon.co.uk link: http://amzn.to/2nF1iDC
Amazon.com link: http://amzn.to/2qFxdaN