Friday Night Drinks with… Vivien Brown

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There has been a last minute change to my companion for tonight’s Friday Night Drinks and I am really grateful to my guest for stepping in and saving me from being stood up! So I am delighted to welcome to the blog, author…. Vivien Brown.

author Vivien Brown 2019

Vivien, thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Sorry to disappoint but I don’t drink! I would love a nice ice-cold Diet Pepsi with a slice of lime though, thank you!

Teetotallers are always welcome, alcohol not necessary for a fun evening! If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Do you like horses? I really enjoy an evening at the races. Windsor is a lovely course. Out on the lawn in the sun, watching the jockeys fly in by helicopter and then mounting up, picking my favourites, having a little bet and collecting my winnings (if only!), taking lots of photos and enjoying a fish and chip supper. You can even arrive in style, via the Thames, if you feel like a boat trip, taking in a view of the castle, and surrounded by swans.

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I love horses, and racing (how could I not, coming from Doncaster!) If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I would probably be horribly starstruck and too scared to talk, but it would have to be the absolute genius that was Victoria Wood, my comedy writing idol, and my all-time movie heart-throb, Kevin Costner (preferably dressed in his white naval uniform as in the film No Way Out). If he couldn’t make it over from America because of the pandemic I would happily take Aidan Turner in his place.

Oh, Victoria Wood is my idol too, I really miss her. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

The cover was officially revealed this week for my fourth novel, Be Careful What You Wish For, coming out in September. It is already doing very well in pre-sales, so I am hoping for great things. Meanwhile, I am halfway through writing the next one, a story combining themes of organ donation and finding a lost family after adoption, and bringing back some of the characters from earlier novels so readers can find out where they are now. I don’t yet have a contract for it so I just hope it gets published!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

There is nothing quite like holding your first paperback in your hands. My first two full-length novels, written under a different name, were only e-books, so seeing Lily Alone as a print book was a landmark moment for me. The biggest challenge is always just keeping going, finishing a book after months of writing, staring at another blank page or screen and telling myself yes, I really can do it all again!

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

What novelist doesn’t dream of a bestseller? By that I mean the full works – my book on all the bookshop shelves and in the window displays, winning awards, making the Sunday Times lists, and being made into a film starring Kevin Costner… Dream on!

Dreams are good, you never know! What do you have planned that you are really excited about?

Not everything is about my actual writing. At the moment I am most excited about meeting my first grandson, due to be born early in December. And the end of lockdown, so I can see all my writer friends and go to social events and conferences again. So many were cancelled, including a lunch at The House of Lords. I am being as optimistic as I can and planning ahead for lots of such events in 2021.

Here’s hoping. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

When I was younger I saw quite a lot of the world. I really loved Hong Kong (before the Chinese took it back), Singapore and Thailand, especially all the lovely temples, flowers and wildlife, including my favourite elephants. And, with my husband, I have enjoyed lots of European beach and city destinations, and explored the beautiful Barbados and Jamaica. We even managed to take in a horseracing meeting while on Barbados! More recently I have thoroughly enjoyed holidays nearer to home, taking my daughter Vicky and the grandchildren to Disneyland Paris, especially as you can get there so easily by train. No waiting around at airports or long flights to endure. Now we can’t easily travel, I would be just as happy in England, especially the beautiful rugged areas of the South West – visiting Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, forever now ‘Poldark country’ to me.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.

No great surprise to those who know me, but I went through five rounds of traumatic and expensive IVF before I could have a family, resulting in twin girls, and I am a bit of a cryptic crossword addict. Sorry, that’s two things!

Two is doubly interesting! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell. As a former IVF patient, its theme of two embryos being accidentally swapped at the clinic resonated with me. Two women finding out three years after giving birth that they have the ‘wrong’ baby. Would you keep the one you have raised or swap them back? 

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Two women, two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn’t. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.

That sounds fascinating, I will add it to the TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

No alcohol for me, so hangovers don’t happen! 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Get up late on Sunday, have a long hot soak in a very bubbly bath with a good book, fruit and pastries for breakfast, read two newspapers and do the crosswords in them, a lovely roast for lunch, send my husband out to his bowls club so I can have more reading time before settling down with my cats Pixie and Dixie for an evening by the fire in my cosy pyjamas, watching several episodes of Poldark. 

Pixie and Dixie

Cute cats! Vivien, thank you very much for joining me at the last minute, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Vivien’s latest book, Be Careful What You Wish For will be published on 26 September, and you can pre-order a copy here.

Be Careful What You Wish For cover

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?

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 around 150 short stories to UK women’s magazines and 250 articles about working with children to professional nursery and childcare magazines, and has had two e-novels and a My Weekly 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 twin daughters, now grown-up, and two young granddaughters who keep her busy and entertained. 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).

You can find out more about Vivien and her writing on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  

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