Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.
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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History
A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.
By Fay Sampson ~ May 4, 2014
Donna Fletcher Crow has generously invited me to carry on the blog tour started by Pen Wilcock: and to follow her own exploration of the questions: What am I working on? How does my work differ from others in its genre? Why do I write what I do? How does my writing process work? You can read Donna’s thoughts on.
I’ve just finished the first draft of a new crime novel for Severn House. The Wounded Thorn is set in Glastonbury, which is steeped in ancient Christian history and is also home to esoteric expressions of New Age spirituality. Into this eclectic mixture come two new characters, Hilary and Veronica. The pleasant holiday they have planned turns into something much more sinister.
What I am looking forward to now is revisiting Glastonbury next week, so that I can check out a number of sites where the scenes take place. Some, like the Abbey and the Tor, are familiar to me from the past, but I need to bring my memory up to date. Others, like the Chalice Well and the labyrinth in St John’s churchyard, will be new to me. I’ll also be interested to see how the Somerset Levels are recovering from the devastating floods of this past winter.
It is probably this strong sense of place which marks my work out from many other crime novels. A reviewer wrote of Those in Peril that the landscape was itself a character in the novel.
I’m also not one of those who plots the story meticulously from the start. I have an overall plan, but some of my best ideas occur spontaneously in the course of writing the book.
Why do I write crime fiction? I still think of this as a relatively new genre for me, though this will be my ninth crime novel, and number ten, Blood in the Well (Greenbrier), is on its way. Before that, I was best known for my fantasy writing, with some historical fiction. But looking back over nearly fifty books, I have always had a leaning to strong adventure plots. I am not a “little bit (two inches wide) of ivory” type of writer like Jane Austen. As a child, my favourite reading was pirate stories or the swashbuckling tales of the Three Musketeers.
Crime fiction is the bestselling genre in the UK and second in the USA, so that is what publishers like. But that would not be enough on its own to tempt me if it did not also provide a great way for me to introduce the settings and history of our sacred past or the fascination of discovering family history. It’s not just the solution of the crime that matters to me, but that “extra dimension” which marks the work out as my own.
I love the research process: visiting the places where the story takes place, reading up on the subject or period, seeing and feeling at first hand what my characters do. But once I start to write, I am very lazy writer. I retire to bed with an A4 pad and write in longhand. The words come more spontaneously that way. Then I transfer it to my computer. This is more of a head job. I’m thinking more consciously about what I write and editing it as I go. There will certainly be a second draft, where I pull out strands which may have developed unconsciously during the writing and make them more apparent. Often there will be a third draft too before it goes to the publisher. Nowadays I am usually only asked to make minor revisions.
Writing, for most of us, is not a well-paid profession, but who else do you know who gets paid for daydreaming? And my husband says I am not fit to live with when I’m not writing.
I’d like to hand you on to my fellow-writer Merrilyn Williams/Mel Menzies who will be posting her own blog on this subject on May 12. And today I invite you to go on over Dolores Gordon-Smith's blog to learn the latest about her Jack Haldean series.
Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk
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