This is the formal bit, written by my very lovely agent…
Vivian was first published in 1990, a natural progression after careers in the theatre, in counselling and in storytelling. Since then, she has established an enviable reputation as a writer of integrity and imagination, a writer illustrators love to work with, and a writer her readers want to meet. Vivian was awarded an MBE in the 2016 honours list for services to literature, literacy, illustration and the arts.
It’s very nice of her to say that … actually, I love meeting people and talking to them. Other people’s lives are so fascinating. If you’re hoping to find out how I got to be an author have a look at the links to the interviews…
Despite publishing well over 270 titles, Vivian has led a very busy life away from her keyboard conducting writing workshops for both children and adults, teaching at Edinburgh College of Art. In 2012 she and Lucy Juckes (jennybrownassociates.com) set up PictureHooks, a mentoring scheme for new illustrators that resulted in a hugely successful exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland. The scheme is open again in 2014. (picturehooks.org.uk)
Spending time with new illustrators is really exciting. They are so enthusiastic, and full of fresh ideas. The children’s book world is a small one in many ways, but meeting the talent of the future is a real thrill.
She is proud to have appeared at every Swansea Book Festival, and as a result developed several theatre pieces in conjunction with local schools. She has been Writer in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and in 2012 was Guest Selector for the Children’s Programme.
In 2004, Vivian’s play, Hambledog and the Hopping Clogs was performed to great critical and audience acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe.
I was DELIGHTED that Hambledog was hopping again; it was performed at the Young Vic studio theatre in 1976/7, and I toured with it as well. I was Granny Cobble … but that was a long time ago.
In 2009 her play about two teenagers, Baby Baby, toured Scotland, winning four star reviews and ending with a sell out performance at the Traverse, Edinburgh. See review by Joyce McMillan, the Scotsman. It was restaged by Dundee Rep in 2011/2012.
During the late 90s, Vivian was a stalwart of a groundbreaking Scottish project, The Readiscovery Book Bus, visiting schools throughout mainland and island Scotland where she established a very devoted readership, and was inspired to write even more stories. She now travels less … or so she says. Her family are not convinced.
Oh – I did so LOVE the Book Bus! It was a truly wonderful time, and I’ll be forever grateful to the Scottish Book trust for making it possible. I’m still madly in love with the Western Isles…
Vivian has lived mainly in London, Bristol and now Edinburgh. She is married with four daughters, and has four grandchildren.
And I’d like to thank Edinburgh for making me feel that I’ve finally come home.
Together with Lucy Juckes, Vivian founded Picture Hooks in 2013: a project that supports emerging Scottish illustrators through mentoring, conferences, and exhibitions. For details check out picturehooks.org.uk – especially if you’re an illustrator!
#BookIllustrationOfTheDay is by Susan Einzig for Phillipa Pearce's "Tom's Midnight Garden" (1958). German born Einzig narrowly escaped the holocaust, settled in Britain, & become an fabulous artist. Beautiful pen work. I always loved the "skating to Ely" scene best of all.
PICTURE BOOKS ARE POWERFUL. Not only do I think they're the most universal form of lit, but they're also vital tools for educating, enlightening & entertaining young minds. In Taiwan there's a TV show BASED on pic books (I was on it). Is there a TV show for kids books in the UK?