Today I continue the “What book” feature . It feels right to keep these positive and uplifting posts coming. The lovely Vivien Brown stops by today to take part.
Inspired with Vivien Brown
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. 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 a book about cracking the cryptic crossword commercially published. After self-publishing her debut novel ‘Losing Lucy’, she signed a contract with Harlequin HQ for the e-publication of her romantic comedy ‘How To Win Back Your Husband’ in 2017.
Vivien now writes under her married name of Vivien Brown, with two novels, ‘Lily Alone’ and ‘Five Unforgivable Things’ published by Harper Impulse in e-book and paperback. Vivien lives in 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. When not writing she loves reading, watching TV quizzes and period dramas (Call the Midwife and Poldark are her favourites) and tackling and compiling tricky crosswords. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and a fellow of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ).
What book inspired your love of reading as a child?
When I was five, I won a colouring competition at school and my prize was ‘The Adventures of Mr Pink-Whistle’ by Enid Blyton. I instantly fell in love with the stories of the lonely little half man/half brownie who uses his magic powers, including invisibility, to right wrongs and help others in need. It was first published in the 1940s, with other books to follow featuring the same character, and I still love their innocence and over-riding message of kindness, and Mr Pink-Whistle’s relationship, and conversations, with his little black cat, Sooty!
What book took your breath away?
For sheer cleverness and the best and most unexpected twist I have ever read, I have to say ‘I Let You Go’ by Clare Mackintosh. I wish I could write like that.
What book made you laugh out loud?
I rarely read anything funny enough to do that! I do love the humour in Victoria Wood’s sketches and songs, so a book of scripts might make me laugh outwardly, and some of Spike Milligan’s silly poems are worth a giggle, but when it comes to novels I prefer the more understated gentle humour that comes out of funny everyday situations, from writers like Milly Johnson and Mary Jayne Baker.
- What book made you shout at its pages?
Shouting at a book could only come from anger or frustration because I hate the story, I think the writer has made a stupid error, or I find the plot ridiculous. I read a novel recently and it had so many unforgivable errors in it, like saying Cambridge is in Hertfordshire and confusing a bed pan with a bed bath, that I must admit to letting out the odd squeal of anger! Where was the editing? Things like that should never be allowed to slip through the net.
What book made you cry real tears?
I am a sucker for a bit of emotion, in films and in novels. It’s the love stories that end in loss that get to me the most. ‘This Love’ by Dani Atkins won a RNA award and that doesn’t surprise me. The ending was perfect, but very sad. Anything Holocaust-based always rips at the heartstrings too, because it all really happened and shouldn’t have.
What book has stayed with you always?
You can’t beat the classics like ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Jane Eyre’ for a good story that everyone remembers, but I do wonder how much the TV and film adaptations have taken away from, or completely replaced, the joy of reading the originals, especially as the language and authorial voice become more outdated . Generally, I find it’s poetry that tends to linger in my memory, rather than fiction. Funny how a good emotional poem can say so much in so few words, and how lines of it stay in your head and can still be quoted years later. For me, it’s Leonard Cohen. I loved his music, his stage presence, and his words. I have his novels and all his poetry books, and I particularly like the love poems. I had the words to ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’, which symbolises a close and long-lasting relationship, read out at my wedding.
What book taught you the most?
Dictionaries! I love them. It’s wonderful to have the whole English language there in one place, and to dip in and discover the meaning of new words and the origins of old ones. As a writer, language is so important to me, and a good dictionary, preferably in several volumes and with illustrations, is probably what I would choose as my desert island book. But, if I have to choose a specific book that taught me the most when I was a new, inexperienced writer, it’s ‘From Pitch to Publication’ by the late Carole Blake, explaining the whole writing, submitting and publishing process in a very straightforward way.
What book would you give to a stranger?
Knowing nothing about the stranger, and his/her concentration levels or tastes, it would have to be a book with universal appeal – something both men and women could enjoy, but without being too complex, too high-brow, or too ‘mushy’! That probably rules out my own favourites – romances and emotional family-based or psychological women’s fiction. So, it would probably need to have a bit of action, some element of crime or mystery without being too gory, a straightforward timeline, and a likeable central character with a vulnerable human side. A classic Agatha Christie, a Sherlock Holmes, or an Inspector Morse book might fit the bill.
Thank you to Vivien Brown Brown for taking part. Read on to find out more about Vivien Brown’s book Five Unforgivable Things.
Five Unforgivable Things
One family torn apart by secrets and betrayals. Perfect for fans of Sue Fortin.
Over twenty years ago, Kate’s dream came true. After years of struggling, she was finally pregnant after pioneering IVF. But the dream came at a cost. Neither Kate nor her husband, Dan, could have known the price that they would have to pay to fulfil their cherished wish of having their own family.
Now, years later, their daughter Natalie is getting married and she’s fulfilling her own dream of marrying her childhood sweetheart. Natalie knows she won’t be like most brides in her wheelchair, but it’s the fact her father won’t be there to walk her down the aisle that breaks her heart.
Her siblings, Ollie, Beth and Jenny, gather around Natalie, but it isn’t just their father who is missing from their lives… as the secrets that have fractured the family rise to the surface, can they learn to forgive each other before it’s too late?
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