Thursday, February 3, 2011

Guest Post by Donna Fletcher Crow: Fiction Follows Life

Fiction Follows Life

“Write what you know” is the oldest chestnut in the arsenal of advice to writers. And probably the silliest. How many of us could write any sort of novel— let alone a murder mystery— based on what we know?

And yet, I’d have to say that all of my books have grown out of my real life experiences— except for the murders, you understand. That is certainly the case with my romantic intrigue series, The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. The settings for both of these books came from wonderful vacations my husband and I enjoyed and the background grew out of reading my favorite authors.

THE SHADOW OF REALITY (now available in eBook and soon to be in print) is based entirely on a mystery weekend my husband and I attended several years ago at Mohonk Mountain House, high above the Hudson River Valley. That is to say, the structure of the mystery week, and therefore the structure of the novel, is the format of that week. The plot line and the characters are my own invention. The Eyrie is a fairly faithful representation of Mohonk Mountain House, but I moved it to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Elizabeth’s 1930’s style wardrobe, however, is an exact description of what I wore— in the case of the novel, fictionally designed by my heroine’s sister who is a costume designer.

The theme of the novel is the sometimes narrow line between fantasy and reality. As the week moves on Elizabeth is more and more caught up in the story she is role-playing of a heroine in a Dorothy L. Sayers novel and in the charms of Sir Gavin Lyall who is a flesh and blood Lord Peter Wimsey. In the end Elizabeth has to choose between fantasy and reality— and be very certain which is which— in order to save her own life.

A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE, (which will be out very soon) is my “fling with the bard”. For more years that I can recall (I think Shakespeare was alive when we started) my husband and I have attended the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon. So when the fictional Elizabeth’s sister Victoria begs her to come help her with strange goings-on backstage, I was able to use my years of festival-going including backstage tour, ventures out to the surrounding area and my lifelong love of Shakespeare.

Elizabeth and Richard are on their honeymoon. And few spots on earth could offer a more romantic setting for these two college English professors. Until murder interrupts their idyll. Elizabeth is determined to protect her sister. And Richard is determined to protect Elizabeth. But can anyone escape the hidden hand of death?

In a recent interview I was asked if I planned to continue the literary theme and feature a favorite author in each book in the series. “What a wonderful idea,” I replied. These first two grew naturally from the setting, but now I’m thinking ahead. Jane Austen, perhaps? Elizabeth would look charming in Regency dress and Richard could rival Colin Firth for Mr. Darcy.

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. Book 2 A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH will be out in 2011. THE SHADOW OF REALITY, Book 1 The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries, is a romantic intrigue available on eBook. A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE, Book 2 in the Elizabeth & Richard series will be out spring 2011.

Donna and her husband have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. To see the book video for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and pictures from Donna’s research trips go to


  1. Aaron, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I'm always delighted to meet readers.

  2. Absolutely fascinating, I really enjoyed reading this of Ms Donna Fletcher Crow. 35 Books, absolutely amazing. Here I am just trying to get my first (which could be the "worst", lol, out there)and contemplating what to do and what not to do. This is a wonderful highlight of this author. If I could be so lucky to one day have you host mine, (hopefully one worth it... ;)) write it all up so very well. ~April