Saturday, February 25, 2012

Interview with Author Donna Fletcher Crow

Kissed by Literature: I recently read a mystery that left a lasting impression: A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH by Donna Fletcher Crow. It wasn’t just the characters and adventure that hooked me, but the scenery that really kept me turning the pages. She has graciously agreed to an interview and book giveaway, so without further delay, I present author Donna F. Crow. While you can find my review of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH below, here on my blog, I thought we could start out by learning about the book in Ms. Crow’s own words.

Donna F. Crow: Thank you so much for inviting me to visit with you and your readers, Jori. And thank you for highlighting the importance of background in my books because one of my goals is always to put my readers in the scene for a “you are there” experience.

KBL: I understand this is part of a series. Can you tell us more about the “Monastery Murders” series?

DFC: For years I had wanted to tell the stories of the ancient British saints, but hadn’t found the right vehicle. When our daughter went off to study in a theological college run by monks in a monastery in Yorkshire I knew I had my setting— a young America woman who finds herself in a very different world and then has to cope with wading through facts from history and clambering over crumbling ruins in order to solve murders. Oh, yes, and dealing with a bit of romance, too.

KBL: What other books have you written?

DFC: My best-known book is Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 1500 years of British history, which will soon be reissued as an ebook. I also write the Lord Danvers Victorian true-crime series and The Elizabeth & Richard romantic suspense series

KBL: I’m an aspiring author, like many of my friends and blog followers. How did you make it in the business?

DFC: One of the keys to my getting started was writers’ conferences. Meeting other writers, taking how-to classes from experts, meeting editors face-to-face really made a difference. I attended many conferences across the country, but the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference was really my home base for many years.

KBL: What has been the most rewarding part of being a published author?

DFC: Getting to share stories I’m passionate about with my wonderful readers. I can’t begin to express how my life has been enriched by the people I’ve met— both living and historical.

KBL: A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH is very well researched. Throughout every chapter, I felt as if I was there with your characters. How did you do all the research?

DFC: Thank you, Jori, that’s exactly what I love hearing from readers! I try never to write about a place I haven’t visited. I can’t put my readers in a scene if I haven’t been there. Readers can see pictures from my research trips at:

KBL: I loved the grand monasteries you described, and all of England as a whole. I can tell you feel very passionate about the country.

DFC: My advice to beginning writers is always, “Write from you passion.” And every morning I thank the Lord for my calling to England it has shaped my life.

KBL: Did any surprises come up while you were developing your backgrounds?

DFC: Always! My favorite plot points are the ones that grow out of the settings I visit. When climbing the tower at St. Helen’s Ranworth I knew I had to set a chase scene there, but I didn’t know what the scene would be until I wrote it. (You’ll have to read the story to learn more.)

KBL: What inspired you to write the story?

DFC: I often start with my historical characters. I have long wanted to tell the stories of the medieval mystical women writers Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe— fascinating women who wrote 600 years ago and their books are still read today!

KBL: What part was the most fun to write?

DFC: I like the really intense scenes where a beloved character is in danger. I find I most often do those scenes from the viewpoint of the character who cares most for the endangered one so we can experience their anguish. That way, hopefully, we get action and emotion both.

KBL: In your story, Felicity wants to become a nun. Have you ever wanted to be a nun?

DFC: No, but my daughter did! Not only that, so did her husband. (Well, he wanted to be a monk, you understand.) I laugh a lot now, when I visit their beautiful home and three gorgeous children. They are both, however, serving devoutly in their local church.

KBL: What message do you want to get across to your readers?

DFC: I would say that the theme of the Monastery Murder series is the validity of traditional Christianity and the importance of learning from the past. Those of centuries long ago suffered and died for the faith we all too often seem to take for granted. I want their heroic stories to live again.

KBL: I love your title. How did you come up with it?

DFC: Thank you. The hard part was titling the first book: Because it deals with the location of St. Cuthbert’s grave, my agent suggested the Andrew Marvell poem “To His Coy Mistress” The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. We wanted to call it “A Fine and Private Grave” but my American distributor said readers here wouldn’t get the reference, so we settled on A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE which we were all happy with. A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH just followed along.

KBL: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You’ve brought A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH into a new light.

DFC: Thank you, Jori, these were fun questions to answer and I’m happy to do more if readers want to ask a question in the comment box.


Donna Fletcher Crow has agreed to give away a free copy of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH. All you need to do is leave a comment here and include your email address so she can contact you. Donna F. Crow will choose the winner on April 1st.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I received a copy of OUR FAVORITE SINS: THE SINS WE COMMIT & HOW YOU CAN QUIT by Todd D. Hunter, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. It seemed like the perfect book to share with my friend during Lent, and indeed, we both enjoyed reading through it. The book is very easy to read. I started on chapter one, and suddenly I was in the middle of chapter three. The pages just flew by.

The book centers on different forms of sin, such as laziness and procrastination. The chapters explain to us what the sin means, how it affects our lives, and how we can overcome it, but none of the words are incriminating. While reading, it is an easy transaction to put yourself into the book and realize how to better yourself.

My favorite line occurred on page 34: “Thus some people actually put themselves in the position to be tempted on purpose. It is fun to them.” These words ring so true when I look at many of the people around me. They enjoy flirting with many different guys, seeing how drunk they can get at a bar, and driving carelessly, all for that “rush” they love. I have always found that kind of behavior ridiculous.

This is an excellent self-help book, and highly recommended for anyone wishing to better understand, and improve, his or her life.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I received a copy of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH by Donna Fletcher Crow from Kregel. It is the second book in the “Monastery Mysteries” series. I haven’t read the first one yet, but this was has piqued my interest.

A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH involves a young woman named Felicity. She studies at the theological college run by the Community of the Transfiguration. I would have liked to read more about her adventures at the college, actually studying, but it wasn’t integral to the story (I am always curious about theological colleges). At the start of the novel, Felicity is debating whether to become a nun. While deciding if that is her calling in life, she is yanked into a mystery surrounding a missing icon. The endearing Antony and Felicity’s mother, who she has never had a great relationship with, join her, as well as other memorable characters.

Donna Fletcher Crow takes the reader to new places. When reading about the grand monasteries and beautiful England, I really felt as if I were there with Felicity. Donna Fletcher Crow also added in historical facts that really suck the reader back in time. I love history, so I couldn’t get enough of the factual tidbits.

This is a perfect story for people who love mysteries, history, and religion. I couldn’t stop reading once I opened to the prologue.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Founders' Key

I received a copy of THE FOUNDERS’ KEY: THE DIVINE AND NATURAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE DECLARATION AND THE CONSTITUTION AND WHAT WE RISK BY LOSING IT by Larry P. Arnn, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze. I love history, so I was eager to read this book.

Sadly, this book does not touch on the history of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution much. I found the writing style very dry. Rather than being a recreational, thought provoking read, it felt like a textbook I was forced to study for a college class. Information piled upon more information until I felt lost, and had to reread whole paragraphs to earn my place.

My favorite part was the first page, where Larry P. Arnn includes a letter from John Adams to his wife – a great history fix. The chapter continues by comparing America’s birthday to other countries. We don’t know when China’s birthday is, for example, but America does have one. It is an intriguing concept to consider.

The book is divided into two parts. The first is the Argument and the second is Foundational Readings. The end includes notes, suggested further reading, and acknowledgements. Overall, I concluded THE FOUNDERS’ KEY to be interesting and well researched, but not my type of book. I am passing it on to my friend, who is a political enthusiast.