Ups and Downs with Donna Fletcher Crow

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, The Novel of Christian England is her best-known work, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history. A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. THE SHADOW OF REALITY, a romantic intrigue will be published later this summer.

Donna and her husband have four adult children and 10 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener and you can see pictures of her garden, watch the trailer for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, and read her international blog at

And directly from Donna:

Marilyn, thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today. I’m delighted to have this opportunity to get acquainted with your readers. Perhaps something I say will raise a question for someone. If so, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll try to be responsive to all comments.

When I suggested I might discuss what brought me to write my ecclesiastical thriller A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1, The Monastery Murders, you said, “Great. And I’d also like to know some of your background, how long you’ve been writing, the lowest point of your career and the highest.” And the thing is, all of those things are exactly what brought me to write A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE.

As to my background I’ve been writing professionally for about 35 years and have produced about that many books. (You can see them all and order them on my website And you can watch the trailer for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE on my home page.) Almost all of my books deal with British history, especially, the history of British Christianity, I suppose, because I wanted to learn more of my own roots and heritage. Writing those books necessitated a great many extensive research trips to the British Isles, most of them accompanied by my daughter Elizabeth from the time she was five years old. A fact which was later to play a major role in shaping my writing— especially when she married a Church of England priest. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

Perhaps the high point in my career (although, I hope I haven’t reached my high point yet) was the publication of the award-winning epic GLASTONBURY, The Novel of Christian England in 1992. And I continued to write and garner the occasional award through that decade.

Then, in the year 2000 began a very long low point. For 10 years, although I continued to write, nothing sold to a publisher. Also in that time our family had 10 births, 5 deaths, 2 marriages, 2 troubled marriages (which recovered), our daughter emigrated, and we moved from our home of 25 years. In other words, life happened. But most significantly for my writing, I experienced a spiritual famine.

So, in the fall of 2001, I took one of the first planes to leave Boise after 9/11 and set out on pilgrimage to 17 sites of historical spiritual significance in England, Scotland and Wales. I returned to write a nonfiction book on pilgrimage— which didn’t sell. But I still wanted to tell those stories.

Thus, The Monastery Murders as was born, using my favorite genre, the ecclesiastical mystery, many of my pilgrimage experiences, and the background of my daughter’s life in England. Like Elizabeth, my heroine Felicity Howard is an energetic (not to mention rash and headstrong) young American woman who studies Classics at Oxford, finds teaching Latin in London boring, and goes off to a theological college run by monks in a monastery in Yorkshire.

Fortunately, the murder of Felicity’s (and also my) favorite monk is fiction. Father Dominic is still alive and well tending his rose garden in the monastery that serves as a model for my Community of the Transfiguration. But as much of the historical background and the contemporary settings of the sacred places Felicity and Antony visit while being chased by murderers are as accurate as I can possibly make them. Even Felicity’s experience of the breakdown of a Britrail train actually happened to me.

Now, here I am, on the threshold of a very different kind of adventure, writing a new series in this amazing electronic age with blogs and websites and trailers and Twitter and e-books and all those things that didn’t exist when my last books were published 10 years. And what an exciting adventure life is— even if the murderers are all fictional.


Felicity Howard, a young American woman studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic brutally murdered and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.
A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life as she and Fr. Antony flee a murderer and follow clues that take them to out-of-the way sites in northern England and southern Scotland. The narrative skillfully mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues ancient and modern.

“With a bludgeoned body in Chapter 1, and a pair of intrepid amateur sleuths, A Very Private Grave qualifies as a traditional mystery. But this is no mere formulaic whodunit: it is a Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller. At its centre is a sweeping, page-turning quest – in the steps of St Cuthbert – through the atmospherically-depicted North of England, served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. In this novel, Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters


M.M. Gornell said…
WOW! How wonderful meeting you, Donna. And what a writing adventure you've had! Can't wait to read "A Very Private Grave." Sounds like just my type of mystery. Much success with your new series. Went to your website and your garden is WONDERFUL! I also live in a desert, much harsher than yours, and your garden is an inspiration for me to keep at it with the roses!

Marilyn, thanks for a great interview!

Madeline (M.M.Gornell)
Mason Canyon said…
Great interview. Thanks Marilyn for introducing me to a 'new to me' author and a great new series. This is definitely going on my wish list.

Donna, wishing you much success with your writing.

Thoughts in Progress
Dear Madeline and Mason,

Thank you so much for writing. I'm delighted that A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE sounds like your cup of tea. In that case, I expect you'll enjoy Kate Charles and Julia Spencer-fleming also. P. D. James DEATH IN HOLY ORDERS is probably the most like Private Grave, although somewhat cozier.

Marilyn, thank you for the great bloging experience!


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