I’m pleased to be joined by author Vivien Freeman today as part of the blogtour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. She’s chatting about her latest book, The testing of Rose Alleyn. Welcome Vivien. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I grew up in North London and graduated in Art History at the University of East Anglia. For many years, I lived in Ware, Hertfordshire, where I raised my family, taught Creative Writing and was a script reader. I also gained an MA in Scriptwriting from Salford University. I am a published poet as well as a novelist. I live in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, with my husband, the poet John Freeman. My daughter also lives in South Wales, which is handy. I have a son in Herts and two grandsons whom I like to visit, as I do my friends back there. Besides writing I enjoy: reading, walking, gardening, Classic FM, some of Radio4, Radio3, Sky Arts and Channel 4 – plus Strictly and Masterchef.
What inspired you to start writing?
Both my parents were librarians. Right from the start, books were part of the fabric of my life: at home, where my mother would read to me, and at the local library, Palmers Green, where the children’s library was a wonderful resource. Amongst other books, I owned (still do) The Batsford Book of Children’s Verse, edited by the poet Elizabeth Jennings, and Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. I read The Chronicles of Narnia, everything by E. Nesbitt, Alison Uttley, Arthur Ransome – the list is endless. I also had access to my parents’ bookcase, so I dipped into literature without necessarily understanding it. As soon as I could wield a pencil, I started writing tales about my rag dolls.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I have two earlier novels, now out of print, published back in the 1980s and, having worked as a script reader since that time, I was familiar with the ruthlessness of the publishing business. My boss/old friend (I’ve now retired from script reading) advised me to try putting Rose on Kindle, which I did. Luckily for me, she was spotted by my publisher Stuart Gaskell, of 186 Publishing! Poetry publication is a matter of submitting poems to magazine editors for consideration. It helps if you can win a few poetry competitions, or be shortlisted for the Big Ones such as The National Poetry Competition or The Bridport Prize.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
The Testing of Rose Alleyn charts Rose’s struggle to lead an independent life, free from the demands of family.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
This is a first-person narrative, so Rose’s name had to be there in the title and, in the novel, she is constantly being put to the test in various ways.
How did you celebrate publication day?
John and I went out for a slap-up meal with my publisher and his wife.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
There is another novel about Rose in the pipeline!
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer. It would depend on the friend.
What are you reading just now?
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
It would be a bespoke book of all my favourite poems including John’s, of course, so that I would have a poem a day.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
The Testing of Rose Alleyn
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I post any relevant details on my Facebook page.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Bennett. She goes through the emotional wringer, but never loses her intelligent perspective and wit.
The Testing of Rose Alleyn
England in the year 1900. A vibrant young woman must take control of her destiny.
Vivien Freeman’s atmospheric novel brings late Victorian England hauntingly to life in the mind of the reader. In this beautifully written romance, we explore the choices facing an independent-minded woman at a time when women struggled for self-determination.
About the Author
Vivien Freeman grew up in North London and graduated in Art History from the University of East Anglia before settling in Ware, Hertfordshire. A published poet as well as a novelist, she taught Creative Writing for many years and has an M.A. in Scriptwriting from Salford University. She now lives in rural Wales in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband, the poet, John Freeman.