Copyright © MPSmith Publishing

JM Brown

Interesting facts...

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a retired psychiatric nurse living in NL. Canada. I now have the time to do what I always had a desire to do, write books. I am busier now than I ever was while working professionally. I am an active gardener and a new grandmother. Part of the reason why I'm very busy.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book is loosely based on a real case that I worked on. The young girl in the novel, who I named Beth, suffers at the hands of a secret admirer who devotes his life to making her accept his wild delusions. I actually counselled someone who was the victim of something very similar.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to use flashbacks and scene changes to break up the storyline a bit. I think it keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Nothing worse than rambling on and on with no excitement. I do write a little graphically as well and sometimes that's needed for shock value.

How did you come up with the title?

Actually, I wrote a blog post about that. (Click Here to see Blog) The Mother Goose rhyme, “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” was the inspiration behind the title, “Pretty Maidens All In A Row” but it has nothing to do with the rhyme except for the fact that the heroine’s father used to read the poem to her as a child and it’s an ongoing theme in the whole novel. It is also is a key clue in the search for the killer throughout but there is a more sinister meaning in the title.

First, I’ll give you some interpretation of the meaning of the rhyme and then I’ll tell you why I picked a title pertaining to it. You may have visualized, when hearing the poem, a beautiful lady walking around showing her garden to everyone with her “silver bells” and “cockle shells” and “pretty maids” all in a row, which are referring to beautiful face-like flowers. This, however, is nowhere near the truth behind the rhyme. The Mary that is portrayed in this nursery rhyme is none other than Mary Tudor, also known in historical infamy as “Bloody Mary”. Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (the first wife of Henry VIII). In an attempt to break away from the Church of England, she tried to revert back to the Catholic Church when she became Queen. History tells us that she persecuted and murdered many Protestants. Her reign of terror became widely known, giving her the title of “Bloody Mary”.

Some interpretations of the poem are that the “silver bells” were Catholic Cathedral bells, the cockle shells represented the pilgrimage to Spain and the pretty maids in a row stood for a row of nuns. Others claim the meaning was about torturing her victims. Silver bells were thumb screws that were torture devices, cockle shells were genital torture devices and the pretty maids in a row stood for the people lined up to be executed by the guillotine. The meaning of “How does your garden grow?” is said to refer to the cemetery, because with more deaths, the more the cemetery “garden” would grow. In that time period, there was a lot of fear and people would make up rhymes to record history.

You may have noticed that my title uses the word “Maidens” as opposed to the wording in the poem which uses the word “Maids (and pretty maids all in a row.)” Another facet of that dark period in history tells us that the guillotine was labelled “The Maiden” which was used to behead the victims. I switched the words, firstly to avoid any copyright issues but the meaning of the word from that period, referring to all the murdered people, was befitting of the storyline in my novel. The perpetrator became the “Maiden” and the heroine and her friends became the “Maids all in a row.” If you read the novel now, you’ll have a better understanding of the events which make up the story.

What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Without a doubt, the most influential writer for me is Stephen King. His style of writing captivates the reader. There's always an excitement that keeps one wanting to get to the end. In my opinion, his best work is "The Stand."

What are your current projects?

I am presently writing a second psychological thriller called "They All Fall Down." It's another title that has a nursery rhyme theme, which will be my calling card, if you will, in all my books. I'm having a bit of paranormal in this book though, because it's about a girl who has a near-death experience and recovers to find that she has developed a new sense as a result. She can now communicate with people who have passed. This ability will help an unbelieving detective to have no choice but to listen to her conversations with the dead. I don't want to have this as the main storyline but it will play an important role throughout the book. There is a killer, of course, who is very clever and also a mysterious person who may be a cop that also might be the killer. It should be a good read.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Anyone starting out today as a write, trying to get noticed, will have a tough job ahead of them. It's very difficult to get a literary agent to represent you unless your work is outstanding. Even then they are very selective. Make sure your novel is flawless. By that I mean free of typos, bad punctuation and grammar. Get the novel edited by a professional. If you have anything out of the ordinary reviewers will quickly pick up on it. Your reviews will suffer.

If you self-publish, the road to success will be even tougher. You will have to be promoter and marketer. Things won't happen just because you have a novel online with Amazon or anywhere else. Nobody knows that you're there. Above all, write for yourself. If you have talent you may be noticed. Some writers have become famous overnight.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If you're interested in my novels, prepare yourself for a dark thriller. I have vast knowledge of the workings of the human mind and the storyline can get a little graphic. If you're disturbed by that, the novel is not for you. I've had readers put the book down but their curiosity made them pick it up again, after taking a deep breath.

One final question...Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

I do have a blog where I post articles about thriller-related subject matter. I also explain who I am and what I'm doing. If anyone wants to contact me there or keep tabs on when a new book is available, there are many places to do that. I'm always interested in what people have to say and I even have a contest there for anyone who would like to try and write a part of a new novel. Visit My blog.


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