Monday, October 1, 2012

Author Donna Crow--Interview

Please help me welcome Donna Crow to RBTL today. She's a mystery writer. I always respect mystery writers, probably because I wouldn't be able to do it in a million years. I have a hard time keeping my characters' eye colors straight, much less clues to a murder. But Donna does it magnificiently.

Hi Jessie, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on “Read Between the Lines.” I’m delighted to have this chance to chat with you and your readers. I just wish it could be in person over a cup of tea.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ah, where to start? My husband and I live in Boise, Idaho, we have a far-flung family of  four adult children and 11 grandchildren living in Los Angeles, Boston, Canada and Kentucky.  Next to my family my passion is for British Christianity. I love to tell the stories of holy men and women of the past in hopes of inspiring people in the present.
The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is my best-known work.  I am also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave  and A Darkly Hidden Truth; as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels: A Most Inconvenient Death, Grave Matters, and To Dust You Shall Return; and a romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries: The Shadow of Reality and A Midsummer Eve’s Nightmare.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I am an enthusiastic gardener and I love sharing afternoon tea with family and friends. Of course, I’m an avid reader and I love traveling to visit family and to research new books.

3. How did you choose the genre you write in?
My desire to share the stories of British Christianity wasn’t really a choice. It is more of a spiritual calling. The genre those stories come out in is really a matter of which seems to fit the story best. I do historical novels, romance and mystery. I do seem to be focusing more on writing mysteries recently. I like the added challenge of more complex plotting. I want my readers to keep turning those pages.

4. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Since I try never to write about a place I haven’t visited and most of my settings are in England that requires some pretty intense research trips. Which means I have to have an outline so I’ll know exactly where I need to go and what I need to learn when I get across the water.
I just returned from a research trip to England for my next Elizabeth & Richard Mystery: A Jane Austen Encounter. English literature professors Elizabeth and Richard are on sabbatical visiting all the sites where Jane Austen lived. My outline for the book was my itinerary. Now my experiences researching will be the book— with a murder thrown in for fun, of course.

5. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your book published?
My greatest challenge was restarting my career in 2010 after a 10-year hiatus. Life simply overwhelmed me as our children married, emigrated and had children, my parents died, we moved. . . I was still writing, but I wasn’t publishing. When I was ready to get back to work I needed a publisher for my Monastery Murders series. The book publishing world had changed. I had changed. It was like starting a whole new career. The key to getting back in was finding the right agent. Janet Benrey has truly been a Godsend. Janet sold The Monastery Murders to Monarch Books in England and has overseen getting several of my series published in ebook format.

6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
In The Monastery Murders the background of my heroine Felicity is based on the experiences of our daughter Elizabeth who studied classics at Oxford, found teaching school in London borning, went off to study in a theological college run by monks in a monastery in Yorkshire, and fell in love with an English priest. (Yes, I know— it sounds like a novel— but that part is all true.)
Although Felicity’s personality is much different than Elizabeth’s— even opposite in many ways— I do enjoy writing scenes  based loosely on things Elizabeth actually did. For example, when our son graduated from West Point we were all staying in an ancient inn along the Hudson River. We returned so late after the graduation ball that the inn was locked up tight. Elizabeth, still in her ball gown, grasped the edge of the balcony, swung her long legs over the edge and entered the window.
This became the final scene in A Darkly Hidden Truth where Felicity and her mother, locked in a room in an ancient manor house, discover that Antony is held prisoner in the room above hers:
            She ran to the window and wrenched it open.  There was just room for her to wedge her shoulders out as she leaned far to one side and then the other.  They were, indeed, at the top of a sheer brick wall, as Angela had said.  If she could just spot a window to tell her where Antony was. . . She stretched farther, gazing upward to survey the roof behind the paramented gable over her head.  “Careful!”  Cynthia cried and grabbed Felicity’s ankles.
            Felicity reached an arm up.  If she could grasp the edge of the parapet she could swing herself onto the roof.  If she could only see where to go from there.  If no  window, surely an air vent.  There must be an aperture of some sort.  But the roof line was unbroken.

7. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Because my books are set in England getting the details right is always a nagging worry. Thankfully, I have an English editor, but still mistakes can slip through the net. Having a reader point out an “Americanism” is my nightmare. (Yes, it happens. Blush)
Conversely, having an English reader say she couldn’t tell it was written by an American was a huge compliment. I also cherish the letter I received from an American Marine who had read Glastonbury, praising my battle scenes.

8. What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, her creator.
Well, Felicity’s clash with her mother Cynthia is a major story line in A Darkly Hidden Truth, as motherhood is a theme of the book. I hope I don’t irritate Felicity as much as her mother does, but let’s face it— Felicity is rash and stubborn and a bit hot-headed and she irritates me sometimes. Actually, I see a lot of the fun of the series will be growing Felicity up. And just think of poor Father Antony. She drives him absolutely wild and yet he’s in love with her.

9. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself or your book?
I hope your readers will come over to my website to read more about all of my books, watch my trailers and see pictures from my garden and research trips at:  And I would love to have you follow me on Facebook at:

Check out her books too! Here are the links for Glastonbury:
Barnes and Noble

And for A Darkly Hidden Truth:
Barnes and Noble

Thanks so much for joining us today, Donna!


  1. Hi Jessie! Thank you so much for hosting me on yoyr blog today. I love the chance to get to meet new readers! And congratulations on your book. I look forward to having you as a guest on my blog.

  2. Donna, thanks for sharing! You have interested me in your books! I love stories about Britain. - Tracy H

  3. Donna is such an inspiration. Good to see you here Donna! (And jessie of course)

  4. Mysteries would be very difficult to write...all the twists and turns, false starts and red herrings. My hat's off to you!