My guest today is Donna Fletcher Crow. Donna is the author of 39 books, mostly novels dealing with British history, including the award-winning
. Her newest release is A Darkly Hidden Truth,
book 2 in her clerical mystery series The Monastery Murders. She also writes
the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic
suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Glastonbury
Donna and her husband live in
. They have 4 adult children and 11
grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. Boise, Idaho
Anne – Welcome, Donna. It’s a joy to sit down and talk with you, especially when the topic is writing! Let's start at the beginning. When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?
Donna - I wrote my first novel Brandley’s Search (republished as Where Love Begins) when a minor character in Georgette Heyer’s novel VENETIA got in my head and demanded I tell the rest of his story. It was like being pregnant, that story had to come out. I wrote in the middle of the night, walking down the aisle in the grocery story, driving down the street (I would pull over to the curb). I wish all my stories would come like that.
Anne – Tell us about your most recent release.
Felicity Howard is a thoroughly modern American woman who, rather rashly--as she does most things--has gone off to study theology in a monastery in
Yorkshire. Because she and her church history
lecturer solved the murder of Father Dominic in A
Very Private Grave, book 1 in the series, Father Anselm has now asked them to
find a valuable missing icon. But Felicity can’t possibly help. She’s off to
become a nun. Then her impossible mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good
friend turns up murdered. . . Antony
In the midst of breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services and dashes through remote waterlogged landscapes Felicity learns the wisdom of holy women from today and ages past and
explores the arcane rites of the Knights Hospitaller.
But what good will any of that do them if Felicity can’t save Antony ’s life? Antony
Anne –Would you share an excerpt with us?
Donna – Of course!
, perplexed by their friend’s failure to
keep his appointment, decide to explore the grounds of the ruined St. Benet’s
Abbey in the remote Norfolk Broads: Antony
An ominous rumble was followed by a single, sharp clap of thunder and the heavy, dark clouds so close over their heads simply dumped on them. Felicity shrieked and ran for shelter in the old brick drainage mill, flattening herself against the wall where the inward sloping sides gave a minute semblance of shelter.
Or angrier. Where was Neville? What could he possibly have wanted to show them that could in any way justify all they had gone through? Was this his idea of a joke? If he had learned anything about the icon it certainly couldn’t be around here. Some ruined abbeys might present secret caverns or hidden cubbyholes to hold purloined icons, but St. Benet’s obviously didn’t.
She turned to
and almost yelled over the pounding of the
rain. “Try ringing Neville again. Maybe we’ll be in luck this time.” Antony
The ring was faint, but they both jumped. “What was that?” Felicity looked around. The round walls of the mill acted like an echo chamber. It almost sounded like. . . But it couldn’t have—
And then the deadened ring sounded again. From beneath their feet.
The thing that held them fixed in horror, though, was not the muffled ring, as if a call from another world, but the specter that rose at their feet as the pouring rain washed back the mud to reveal a slim white finger, then hand, then wrist, the receding soil making it seem in that small circle of light inside the blackness that the arm itself was rising from the grave. Reaching upward for light, for air, for them.
Anne – A Darkly Hidden Truth is definitely going on my TBR list! I can’t wait to read what happens next. Is there one book you are most proud of writing? Why?
, A Novel of the Holy Grail, is the book I
was born to write. My first short story, written in the third grade, was about
brave Sir Lancelot slaying the dragon and rescuing the princess. I knew then it
was the only story that existed. Glastonbury is an Arthurian grail search epic covering
1500 years of English history. It has been in print for 20 years in two
editions and was recently released in ebook format. Glastonbury
Anne - Does one character in particular hold a special place in your heart? Why?
Donna - Felicity, heroine of the Monastery Murders, is my darling. These are stories I’ve wanted to tell for years, but I didn’t have the right format for them. When our daughter Elizabeth studied Classics at
, found she disliked teaching in Oxford and went off to study theology in a
monastery in remote London Yorkshire, I knew I had the setting for my series. I
started writing the first book A Very Private Grave basing Felicity’s
personality on as well. I quickly realized that qualities that make
a very lovely daughter can make a very boring heroine. Felicity became rash,
opinionated and headstrong--and lots of fun to work with. Infuriating as she can
be, Elizabeth thinks so, too. I foresee that much of the
fun of the series will be growing Felicity up. Antony
Anne - What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Donna - Plotting. Always. Background is my favorite part. I love taking my readers to the places I visit for research, I adore working with my characters (even the stubborn Felicity), but plotting is painfully difficult. I force myself to work from a fairly detailed outline, so once that’s done I'm free to enjoy the rest.
Anne - Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person?
Donna - Totally a cock-eyed optimist. Life can be very hard, Keeping my eye on the Light is the only way forward.
Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
Donna - Write from your passion. Write what you love to read.
Anne - Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud?
Donna - My children and grandchildren. We have four adult children living in
, Boston , Los Angeles and Calgary . Between them they have supplied us with
11 totally amazing grandchildren. We travel as much as we can manage to visit
them all and in-between we’re thankful for Skype. Kentucky
Anne – Where can readers find you online?
Donna - Please visit my website. You can see videos for both of the Monastery Murders there, find pictures from my research trips, read about my other books, and even visit my rose garden. Click the little orange B button in the menu to visit my blog “Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light”. I would love to have you follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Anne – Thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to talk about writing, and especially the Monastery Murders, Donna.
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