Thursday, 7 May 2015

Interview with Donna Fletcher Crow

Today on Bookaholic I am honoured to welcome Historical Crime Writer Donna Fletcher Crow. Donna writes The Monastery Murders which are set in the UK. I know you are a busy lady Donna, so thank you for taking time out to join us and tell us about your books. 

I love being here on your blog, Wendy. Only thing better would be being together in person so we could share a cup of Scottish Blend tea.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling you a little bit about yourself?

Wife of more than 50 years, mother of 4, grandmother of 13 ½. Writer of 45 books— mostly novels of British history. Enthusiastic, but haphazard, gardener and fussy tea-drinker.

Could you tell us a little bit about where you are from?

I am one of those rare Idahoans that is actually a native. Most of our population is from other states who have discovered the delights of our unspoiled, uncluttered state. Idaho is mountainous and agricultural with wide open spaces. Really a lot like Scotland— I always feel very at home there. As, I’m sure, did my Scottish ancestors who emigrated here.

I think this is a perfect place for a writer to live because our pace of life is slightly slower, so hopefully one has time to breathe and think. This was especially true of my growing up as I was an only child living on a farm. I made up stories in my head to entertain myself. 


Wow what a beautiful place to live Donna. Your photos make me want to visit. 

Could you tell us a bit about your writing and your books?

I think the most important thing is for a writer is to write from their passion and my passion has always been British history— ever since I wrote my first short story about King Arthur when I was in the third grade. Therefore, whether I’m writing romance or mystery, contemporary or historical, all my stories have a lot of British history, especially Christian history, in the background.

My best known work is the epic Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search covering 15 centuries of British history from the birth of Christ through the Reformation.

My most recent release is A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book # 4 in my Monastery Murders. In this series Felicity, a thoroughly modern American woman goes to study in a theological college run by monks in a monastery in Yorkshire. Each book requires Felicity and Father Antony, her church history lecturer, to look deep into history to find the clues to why people are being murdered today.

In A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary Felicity and Antony struggle with personal and family problems as they explore St. Frideswide, the Oxford Martyrs, John and Charles Wesley’s Holy Club, and the Oxford Movement as murder stalks Oxford’s hallowed shrines.

Where do you get the inspiration for your fiction?

My plots either start with a story from history I want to tell or from an area of the UK I want to explore in depth. One of my major goals as a writer is to give my readers a “you are there” experience— my books are a bit of a travelogue— in order to do this I have to experience the place first. My plots often grow out of the settings. I often look around in an atmospheric setting and think “What a great place to hide a body.”

How do you carry out the research for your books?

Once I’ve settled on the bones of my story— the setting, the historical background, the major plot points, my characters’ personal relationships — I read everything I can find on the subject on this side of the Atlantic. Then I plan my onsite research trip which will hopefully cover everyplace my characters will visit.

Through the years this has provided the most incredible experiences visiting museums, castles, ruined monasteries, and out-of-the-way historic sites. The more crumbling the ruin, the more remote the site, the dustier the artifact the better I like it. Readers can see pictures from my research trips on my website under Research Albums.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read?
My writing is a model of the classic advice, “Write what you like to read.” I started out writing romance. When I suddenly realized I couldn’t read another romance I switched to writing historicals. When I began to feel I needed “something more” to keep the pages turning I began specializing in murder mysteries, which have long been my “default position” in pleasure reading.

What would you say was the best book you have ever read?

Other than the Bible, I assume you mean. That’s always first every morning. Beyond that, it’s easier to name my favorite authors. Jane Austen is my great literary love, Persuasion my favorite of her books. I wrote A Jane Austen Encounter in my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series as a tribute to her. My favorite mystery writers are Dorothy L Sayers, The Nine Tailors probably my favorite, and P. D. James with Death in Holy Orders topping the list.

What is your favourite food?

Ah, Christmas cake with lots of marzipan, salmon and American style salads. All with cups of good strong tea.

If you could visit any country in the world, where would it be?

No prizes for guessing it would normally be the UK. Even if I lived there I could never visit all the places I want to explore. But just at the moment I’m going to have to say Japan because our oldest son and his family— which includes four of our grandchildren— are moving there and besides the fact that we will miss them, it has always been important to me to share my childrens’ experiences, just as I always try to experience my characters’ adventures.

Have you got any more books planned? If so, are you able to tell us something about them?

Always, Wendy! I have two books in the editing process right now. The Flame Ignites will be a prequel to my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series. It is set in an autumnal blaze of red and gold leaves in 1984 when Elizabeth and Richard first meet. Literary figures are the belovd American novelist Elswyth Thane, with whom I shared an extended friendship via postal mail, and Rudyard Kipling. Very few people know Kipling lived in New England and did some of his most important writing there.

My next Monastery Murder also has a fiery title: An All-Consuming Fire. This is set in a monastery in Yorkshire at Christmastide and I don’t mind divulging that it includes Felicity and Antony’s wedding—modeled on our daughter’s English wedding, likewise to a priest. The fire referred to in the title is Richard Rolle’s mystical work The Fire of Love. The English mystics Rolle, Walter Hilton and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing provide background.

Thanks for joining us and answering the questions Donna. I, and the Bookaholic readers, appreciate it. I am sure many of us are looking forward to reading your books. 

Thank you again for inviting me, Wendy. I’ve had fun visiting. And I would like to invite your readers to visit my website to see more about all of my books, including trailers of some of my Monastery Murders, pictures of my research trips and photos from my garden. I would also love to have you follow me on Facebook.

And since you were so kind to share pictures of Dundee with me, here are a few photos of Boise, Idaho: 

You can find out more about Donna and her books at Amazon UK and Amazon USA

Finally Bookaholics, I have read some of Donna's books and they are excellent. Well worth buying now. Once you start you will want to read them all. Enjoy the books and I will see you all back her every soon.


  1. Wendy, thank you so much for the great interview. I love having the opportunity to meet new readers. I can't believe that in my list of favorite foods I failed to mention Dundee marmalade! Does Shona have it very morning on her toast?

    1. It was a pleasure to have you join us Donna. Thank you once more

  2. I love Donna's books, especially the Monastery murders, though I struggled with Glastonbury - it's so big!

    1. Thank you Cymraies. I am glad you enjoyed the blog and the books.

  3. Cymraes, I'm so glad you've enjoyed the Monastery Murders--I'm just finishing up the editing on the next one.