Vivian Vande Velde Main Page

(picture by Jim Vande Velde)

Yes, Vivian Vande Velde is my real name.  

To hear me pronounce it, you can go to the Author Name Pronunciation Guide at by clicking here.


I became a writer because I love stories--all kinds of stories, but especially fantasy.  I can't remember a time before I wanted to be a writer.  My parents did a great job of convincing me I could do whatever I set my mind to.

my parents


I was born in 1951 and have lived almost my entire life in Rochester, New York.

I married Jim Vande Velde.  (So, yes, Vivian Vande Velde is my real name.)  When our daughter Beth was born, I quit my job as a secretary. Since I was home all day, I had to either take housework more seriously or come up with a good excuse why I couldn't. So this was the point where I had to stop saying "Someday I'm going to be a writer," and do something about it.

The first book I wrote was A Hidden Magic.

Writing turned out to be harder work than I thought it would be.  (To read more about writing, go to the WRITING ADVICE page.)

But, once I finished writing the book, getting it published was even harder.  I sent it out to 32 different publishers over a two-year period, before number 33 said yes.

So, if you're interested in seeing your stories become books, keep in mind that lots of people heard "no" from publishers before they heard "yes"--including:

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Stephen King
  • Madeline L'Engle
  • J.K. Rowling

Writing can be easier if you have the support of other writers. Luckily for me, there are a lot of children's writers in the Rochester area. I belong to two groups, each with wonderful people who help each other by asking gentle questions (What is it, exactly, dear, that you're trying to say here?) and who offer encouragement and advice to each other. And besides that, they're a lot of fun.

One writers group:

(from left to right:  Ellen, Robin, Kathy, Bruce, Cynthia, Tedd, Patience, VVV, MJ)

(To read an interview that a different Cynthia--
Cynthia Leitich Smith--
conducted with me about this group,
click here.)


Tedd Arnold is sort of an auxiliary member of our group.  Although he no longer attends meetings, we refuse to let go.  Tedd writes and illustrates incredibly funny books, including Parts and the various adventures of Fly Guy.  Sometimes he draws the pictures after someone else has written the story.  He and Robin Pulver have worked together on two Axle Annie books.  Tedd's young adult novel, Rat Life, won the Edgar as the year's best mystery for teens.  His latest book is There's a Fly Guy in my soup.


M.J. Auch writes and illustrates picture books (many of which include poultry in the arts--how can that NOT be funny?), and she also writes novels, some of which are historical fiction, such as Ashes of Roses. M.J. is responsible for getting my story, Troll Teacher, published; she's also responsible for the pictures. M.J.'s newest novel is One Plus One Equals Blue; her newest picture book is The Buk Buk Buk Festival--about a book-writing chicken attending a book festival.


Patience Brewster illustrates picture books, has her own greeting card company, and designs quirky but wonderful holiday ornaments. Patience is the illustrator for the Park Pals series (the adventures of PeeWee the guinea pig). The last of her books to come out is the exquisitely beautiful The Merbaby.


Bruce Coville has written picture books (including retellings of Shakespeare plays) and novels (many having to do with magic, or aliens, or both).  He's also the genius behind Full Cast Audio.  It's difficult to keep up with Bruce and the many series he works on (including the Magic Shop books, and the Unicorn Chronicles, and the Amber Brown books (written with Elizabeth Levy and based on Paula Danziger's beloved series)), but one of his most recent books is Diary of a Mad Brownie         


Katherine Coville is an artist whose beautiful depictions of fantastical creatures makes her a natural to illustrate (among others) books by husband Bruce Coville.  Together they have worked on the Moongobble and Me series and Aliens Stole My Body.  But she's also a fantastic writer.  Check out The Cottage in the Woods. Read more about her here.


Cynthia DeFelice is the author of picture books (some based on folk tales, others totally original) and novels (all of them suspenseful, some having to do with ghostly goings-on). Her books (such as Weasel and The Ghost of Fossil Glen) are frequent winners on state reading award lists. Her latest picture book is Nelly May Has Her Say; newest novel is Fort.


Robin Pulver is the author of picture books such as the Mrs. Toggle series--picture books that adults as well as children love to read because of all the silly puns and clever word plays. She wrote the text and Tedd Arnold drew the illustrations for Axle Annie. In addition, she has books that make learning language arts fun, such as Punctuation Takes a Vacation.  Robin's most recent book is the funny and heart-warming Saturday Is Dadurday.


Ellen Stoll Walsh writes and illustrates picture books. Sometimes Ellen draws, but she is best known for her cut-paper illustrations, such as in Mouse Paint. She has a series of books featuring mouse detectives Dot and Jabber, who solve mysteries in nature. Her latest book is Balancing Act. Coming later this year:  Where Is Jumper?  We're working on talking her into getting a website.  But meanwhile read a little about her here.



Another Writers group:


(left to right:  Marsha, Judy, VVV, and Alice

Judy Bradbury is the author of a wide variety of works: for children--the Christopher Counts! series of concept books; for parents, teachers, and librarians--The Children's Book Corner series, a resource to encourage reading; for writers--articles of help and encouragement in issues of Children's Writer and Writers Market.  Her latest book, co-authored with Susan E. Busch, is Empowering Families: Practical Ways to Involve Parents in Boosting Literacy.  To hear Judy being interviewed on radio station WBFO, click here.


Alice DeLaCroix's stories are always beautifully told, with an attention to language that makes the reader feel as though the characters are long-time friends. Alice's latest book is The Best Horse Ever. Read more about Alice here.


Marsha Hayles enjoys playing with words in her spirited, playfully rhyming picture books, often about everyday things, such as a child's imagination. Marsha's newest picturebook is Bunion Burt.  Her first novel is the beautiful Breathing Room.



Jennifer Meagher is a talented artist, voice actress, and mystery-game developer. She has taught cartooning classes and created life-size animals for Rochester's "Horses on Parade" and "Animal Scramble"--so you never know what you're going to find in her house. Jennifer provided the illustrations for Luvella's Promise.   
Jennifer no longer comes to our manuscript critique meetings because--at this time--besides being a writer/illustrator, Jennifer also works with the elderly and is a kind and sympathetic listener.


I was also fortunate enough to have a really good editor early in my career--the talented and gracious writer Jane Yolen.