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 http://ning.it/yCr4cr and The Elizabeth & Richard romantic suspense series http://ning.it/y6ybVp
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: http://ning.it/pQUQWz
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.