Sunday, May 22, 2011

with Donna Fletcher Crow

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Donna!
What started you on your writing journey?

I was drama minister at our church. After we had done "The Robe" and "A Man Called Peter" I discovered we had pretty much exhausted the resources so I began writing plays. My first novel Brandley's Search (reissued as Where Love Begins), book 3 in my Cambridge Chronicles, came to me when a minor character from another book got in my head and wouldn't get out. I had to tell the rest of Brandley's story. It was like being pregnant. I would wake up at night and write. On the way to the grocery store I would have to pull over and make notes. Unfortunately, no other book has come that readily.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
I'm a very focused person, so I don't distract easily. Even when we still had children at home. I used to write with our infant daughter in a snugli or later in a playpen in my office (in an office so small I had to step into the playpen to get to my typewriter). When all the children (we have 4) were in school I would write until they came home, then everything would stop and we all sat down and had tea together.
Now the hardest is balancing the need to do promotion and my writing time. The internet is always just one click away.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I love the English classics. Jane Austen was my first literary love and I never recovered. I read widely in my own genre of clerical mysteries. Kate Charles with her Cally Anson series is the reigning queen. Deep Waters is excellent. Julia Spencer-Fleming is also very popular. Her latest is One Was a Soldier which I haven't read yet but I know it will be as gripping as the others in her series. To my mind the best clerical mystery is P. D. James' Death in Holy Orders.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Oh, definitely Felicity, my American heroine who has gone off on something of a whim to study theology in a monastery in remote Yorkshire. Felicity is out to change the world and she has the energy, intelligence, dedication and loyalty to do it. But she is also rash and headstrong, which gets her into some rather desperate scrapes. I see that much of the fun of my Monastery Murders series will be growing Felicity up.

Felicity's background is based on my daughter who was a ballerina, studied the classics at Oxford, found teaching school in London disagreeable, and went to study theology in a monastery in Yorkshire. I started out making Felicity a lot like my Elizabeth: sweet, devout, obedient. I was about 10 pages into the story when I realized that was very boring. A perfect daughter in life can make a very dull heroine in a book.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Oh, dear. I'm afraid I would be Gregorian Chant. I hate to admit I'm really that old-fashioned (there is a reason I write history). I would rather be English Choral music, maybe something by William Byrd. Or maybe Handel. Oh, I'd love to be an anthem by Handel!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I'll do anything for research, including snorkeling, hot air ballooning and rappelling into a lava flow cave. But maybe the most off-beat is the experience I just returned from: joining a Youth Walk pilgrimage from London to Walsingham (126 miles) following the route of medieval pilgrims. Although I was a considerably overage pilgrim among all those teens and 20's I managed to walk about 100 miles, taking breaks in the follow van. An amazing experience which will be reflected in Antony and Felicity's experiences in book 3 in the Monastery Murders.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Asking people to do things for me is very hard for me. Right now my publisher wants me to solicit a list of endorsers for A Darkly Hidden Truth, book 2, The Monastery Murders which will be out this fall. Asking for favors is very hard for me to do.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Afternoon tea. It has become the trademark of our family. I am always pleased when friends invite themselves over and my children's friends still know to drop in around 3:00 every afternoon when the kettle will be on.
Always nice with a scone:

3 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups milk +2 Tablespoons
currants or golden raisins (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Sugar to sprinkle

Mix dry ingredients. Add cold butter and cut in until crumbly. Pour in milk and mix gently. Add currants if used. Knead lightly. Pat out into a thick disk, about and inch thick. cut into circles with biscuit cutter or glass. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, until just light gold. Should still be moist in the middle.

Serve with butter, strawberry jam or orange marmalade and stiffly beaten, unsweetened whipped cream.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Throughout the body of my work God's Grace and faithfulness has been my theme because to me that is the over-whelming fact of the Christian life. But each book has its own theme. The validity of faith is the theme of A Very Private Grave because Felicity thinks Christianity is just an interesting lifestyle until she sees the reality in the life of Fr. Antony, a faithful priest.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
My favorite Psalm is 126, the BCP translation: "When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion then were we like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy."
So much has been lost in this life because of sin. This is such a beautiful picture of a world restored by God's grace. I first focused on these verses when we spent Christmas in a thatched cottage in a tiny village in England. One of Elizabeth's friends wrote it in the front of a gift book.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
A Darkly Hidden Truth, next in the Monastery Murders, will be out in September.

Having discovered the reality of faith, Felicity— who never does things by halves— has now decided to become a nun. She departs to visit convents in spite of her estranged mother’s imminent arrival and Fr. Anselm’s plea that she and Fr. Antony recover a missing priceless Russian icon before the Patriarch of Moscow arrives at the community for Holy Week.
Felicity’s discernment journey takes her to a variety of convents, but her discovery of a friend’s murdered body in a shallow grave, the disappearance of more icons, the shooting of a London art expert just after they visit him, the disappearance of Antony, and finally the abduction of Felicity and her mother teach her far more about motherhood, life and love than she could learn in any convent.


Purchase at CBD



Purchase A Very Private Grave at CBD.


Donna is giving away a copy of A Very Private Grave. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

8 comments:

Jo said...

This sounds like quite a interesting book. Please enter me.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Marianne said...

Thanks for the post and the chance to win Donna's book. i would love to win - don't we all? mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com

Christine Lindsay said...

I've already read one of Donna Crow's books--A Midsummer's Eve Nightmare, and loved her cozy mystery style. Love the snappy, intelligent dialogue between the lead characters. So, yeah, I'll throw my name into the ring to win a copy of this book. Christine.d.schmidtke@gmail.com

Barbara said...

Donna....where are you on Oprah's 'Reading List'? Big
mistake for miss O.

Barbara Langford

Amy said...

Sounds great and would like to read. Please enter me. Thanks.

sweetdarknectar{at}gmail{dot}com

apple blossom said...

please enter me thanks
ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

splashesofjoy said...

Sounds like a wonderful read
Blessings.....Joy
ibjoy1953{at]yahoo[dot]com

Meredith said...

Great interview. Sounds like an interesting book.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

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