I’m delighted to welcome talented author Vivien Brown onto my blog today. Vivien is interviewing Beth, a character from her latest novel Five Unforgiveable Things. Let’s take a look at the cover.
Almost thirty years ago, Kate’s dream came true. After years of struggling, she was finally pregnant following pioneering IVF. But the dream came at a cost. Neither Kate nor her husband Dan could have known the price 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 is fulfilling her own dream of marrying her childhood sweetheart. Natalie knows she won’t be like most brides as she travels down the aisle in her wheelchair, but it’s the fact her father won’t be there to walk beside her 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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Now over to you, Vivien
Hi Karen, although Kate is the main character in the novel, it’s her eldest daughter Beth I have decided to interview today.
Hi, Beth. Can we start with a bit of background about your family life?
Well, it hasn’t always been conventional, I suppose. I know it took my parents a long time to have children, going through IVF and everything, and then they ended up with four of us! That meant money was tight, and Dad worked long hours trying to keep us all afloat, so we didn’t see as much of him as we might have liked. Dad left a while back (it’s a long story, but they hadn’t seemed happy for a while, so maybe they’re better taking some time apart), and my brother Ollie has his own place too, but we three girls still live at home with Mum. For now, anyway, because my sister Natalie’s getting married!
A fairly crowded house then, growing up?
It’s not a huge house, and that’s meant sharing a room with my sister Jenny until quite recently. As soon as Ollie moved out she instantly took possession of his room, so I finally have a bit of privacy. And then, there’s Natalie, who’s in a wheelchair, so she has her own space downstairs. But, generally, it’s been great having so many of us here. Always someone to play with, talk to, share our secrets with. Although I have a sneaky feeling the others may be keeping a secret from me at the moment. Something about my boyfriend Jake…
Can you tell me something about your relationship with Jake?
I’ve known Jake since school. We sort of got thrown together at a party when we were teenagers and have stayed together ever since. To be honest, I’ve never actually been with anyone else, and that’s a bit scary. What if he’s not ‘the one’ at all? Because when it comes to romance, Jake’s not really the hearts and flowers sort, but after all this time everyone seems to expect us to stick it out, and probably get married one of these days, especially now Natalie’s about to tie the knot.
Any long-term dreams or ambitions?
Oh, where do I start? I remember I was always playing around with hairstyles and experimenting with make-up, on my dolls and then on members of the family, so it was fairly inevitable I’d end up in the beauty business. I work at a hair salon in town, and I’ll get to work my bridal hair-do magic on Natalie pretty soon! But it’s all I’ve ever done and it’s starting to get a bit boring. I’m still young – not thirty yet – and I’m starting to feel I haven’t done anything exciting with my life. I always secretly wanted to be on the stage, but Mum and Dad could never have afforded drama lessons, or dance classes, or singing. In fact, maybe it wasn’t such a secret dream after all, as Ollie says I was always miming into a hairbrush and pretending it was a microphone when I was a kid! And I haven’t travelled or seen anything of the world either. If I settle down with Jake, I probably never will… But Ollie’s a teacher and he’s just asked me to help him with a special project, putting a glitzy school show together, and I have high hopes things could be about to change!
Now let’s read a short extract from the novel
She rolled over on the bed and let her face sink into the softness of the pillow. It had been a long and tiring day and she felt inordinately glad that she didn’t have to go out tonight. Jake calling to cancel had come as a welcome relief, her comfy pyjamas holding a lot more appeal than the tight jeans and t-shirt and painful push-up bra she’d lined up for their planned evening at the pub.
There had been a time when not seeing Jake would have hurt. When missing out on his company would have had her feeling abandoned and wondering what he was up to instead. Now she hadn’t even thought to ask.
Jake had been a part of her life for a long time, ever since school, when they’d found themselves unexpectedly kissing in someone’s kitchen at an end-of-term party. Neither of them could quite recall how that had happened but they’d liked it, or what they could remember of it through the inevitable hangovers that followed, and had both been up for a repeat performance as soon as possible. She hadn’t really looked at anyone else since then, or, she was rather ashamed to say, kissed anyone else either, let alone slept with anyone. She wasn’t absolutely sure that Jake could say the same, but sometimes it was easier not to know.
She loved Jake. Well, sort of loved him, but she knew full well that what they had fell more into the friends with benefits camp than the true love, everlasting passion category. She’d watched enough romantic films and read enough Mills and Boon to know that something was missing. No shiver of anticipation ran through her, no spark lit up in her eyes, or in his for that matter, when he came into a room. But being with Jake was easy. She knew what he was thinking, most of the time anyway. Knew his opinions, his likes and dislikes. She was even able to finish his sentences, the way old married couples do. She was all too familiar with the state of his underwear and the holes in his socks too, and with the little wrinkly bits between his legs where there wasn’t much hair, and with the rather smelly workings of his digestive system after they’d eaten a curry. Maybe this was what marriages were built on, the inside-out knowledge of another person, the everyday mundanity of bodily functions and boxers left on the bathroom floor when they should be in a laundry basket, and not on that elusive heart-stopping desire she would so badly love to feel, even if only the once, just to know what it was really like.
But, at the moment anyway, there was no question of marriage. Well, if there was, it was a question he had never asked. Just the thought of it happening and maybe taking her by surprise one day, Jake on one knee brandishing a ring she’d had no part in choosing, was a worrying one. What would she say if he did? What would everyone else say if he didn’t?
If, like me, this makes you want to read more you can buy the book here:
Vivien Brown lives in west London 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 and sharing books through storytimes and book-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, and recently appointed a fellow of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Vivien is combining novel-writing and her continuing career in magazine short stories with her latest and most rewarding role as doting grandmother.
Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Vivien. Lots of luck with your book.
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