Inspiration for local author’s new fiction novel taken from real-life stories

ST. GEORGE – Vanessa Brown of St. George, author of four novels, a novella, short stories, and one poem, has just released her most recent book, A Child to Cry Over. Brown, who has self-published two of her books and has had the other two published by both U.S. and Canadian publishing houses, said the inspiration for her latest novel came from documentaries she watched about children killing children.

“A few years ago I had the idea,” said Brown. “I used to watch a lot of documentaries, and I came across a story about a young girl in England, back in the 60s I believe, that had killed a little boy.

“There’s actually another story about two boys that killed another boy. After doing a bunch of research on those, I thought of an idea on having my own child murderer in the story. Just the idea of child murderers kind of seemed very bizarre and interesting to me, because there’s always that idea of nature versus nurture.”

Brown said she doesn’t think anyone can fathom the idea of any child being born evil, but sadly, the idea for her story came from real-life situations. But, she takes her story in an entirely different direction, kind of from the perspective of the main character, her trials and tribulations, and her re-release back into society after spending time in a juvenile detention centre.

Brown thought it would be interesting to dive into the life of her main character, Maddy, and to write about how she receives a new identity to begin her life after detention. She said if evil is something someone is born into, how would they cope with a new identity after being re-released into the world with virtually no life experience to speak of?

“That’s really where the entire premise of the story was born.”

In order to make her story relatable, Brown decided that Maddy would come from St. George, and be released to live in Saint John. She also put a lot of her own life experiences into the story, to make it “more realistic”. This sense of realism is why she decided to have the story set in Charlotte County, mainly in the St.George area.

With such a dark story line, one might think that people would react poorly to the story. But Brown said she has actually had many great reactions about the book. It has already been read and reviewed by several people, and Brown said they “absolutely loved it”, and that they found it “haunting”.

“I’ve had many people contact me asking about the book, where they can get it,” said Brown. “It was on a Facebook social media page, and it’s got 300 plus people reacting to it. I’ve had so many people reaching out. I think a lot of people around here are excited because St. George and the Charlotte County area doesn’t get that sort of notice. I think a lot of people are excited to read a piece of fiction that does take place in their area.”

Many local landmarks are mentioned in A Child to Cry Over, including Connors Bros. Brown said she has renamed businesses and landmarks for the sake of the book, but anyone who lives here or is familiar with the area will know the real names. For instance, she mentions the Granite Town Hotel, but in the story it is called the “Quarry Hotel”.

“It’s all in a community that people around here notice. They can understand. They can really relate to how Maddy grew up. I just want to showcase Charlotte County, the ups and the downs. I talk about St. George.”

Brown also describes uptown Saint John in her book, talking about the older buildings that, while beautiful, are quite dilapidated. She also dives into Maddy’s life, how she was poor and didn’t have the greatest start in life. For example, in one part of the book, Maddy’s uncle offers to buy her a waffle cone that she never gets to have because her mother thinks it is too expensive.

“That’s her little happiness, and she gets through the day knowing she can have an ice cream with a waffle cone. Happiness is where you find it. There’s no happy ending. It ends, of course, but it’s sort of a portrait into a young girl’s life, the unfortunate things that happen in her life, and the happy experiences that she garners therein. She wasn’t a rich young girl. She was more poor, you know? So, I’ve had a lot of really good reception so far. It’s been great.”

A Child to Cry Over is published by World Castle Publishing in the U.S. It is available through Amazon, Indigo, and all other major book distributors. Currently, Brown is in contact with Indigo to have her book on their shelves. If you can’t wait to find it in a store, it is available to order online.

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca