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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

 

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.

AN UNEXPECTED TWIST

By Fay Sampson ~ November 9, 2018

Three years ago I had a crime novel published: The Wounded Thorn. It was the first in a new series, featuring the intrepid Hilary and Veronica. It was set in the wonderfully evocative town of Glastonbury, with its ruined abbey and its high tor crowned with a church tower.

I planned to write others set in similarly romantic places.I set to work on the second one, set this time in the ancient town of Totnes with its curious healing wells, and a wonderful medieval conference centre nearby.

 

I sent the proposal to my agents, but got no reply. Follow-up emails still brought no response. I pressed on and sent the completed...

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WRITING HALF THE BOOK

By Fay Sampson ~ July 31, 2018

The Author is the one with authority. So you may think that we are fully in control of the books we write. 

But the truth is that we only supply half the book. We put down the ideas we have in our head. The other half of the book is what the reader brings to it. It’s a different experience for everyone who reads it. 

Readers come to books like my Morgan le Fay series with a lifetime of experiences and images. The Arthurian stories are so well known that almost...

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OLD BOOKS, NEW LIFE Fay Sampson on Rewriting Morgan le Fay

By Fay Sampson ~ June 20, 2018

The great thing about writing books is that they acquire a life of their own after they’re published.

Some thirty years ago I wrote Daughter of Tintagel (Headline).  This is a sequence of five novels in which the story of Morgan le Fay is told by four very different narrators, finishing with Herself, in which Morgan adds her own ironic comments on the demonising of her legend. The books have been republished by Cosmos Books as the Morgan le Fay sequence. 

But...

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Having Faith in Our Books

By Fay Sampson ~ July 6, 2017

I can remember the time when the main topic of conversation when authors got together was griping about their publishers. On my side, I feel a real debt of gratitude to those who publish me. It is a considerable act of faith to invest money in the work of an author in these often difficult times.
 
I am particularly happy with and for my new publisher Darton, Longman and Todd. I departed from a long run of crime novels to write a book of information, advice and prayer about Dementia. I sent Prayers for Dementia:...

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Prayer and the Imagination

By Fay Sampson ~ November 18, 2016

Publishing can be a long road, even for a writer as experienced as Fay Sampson. Today she shares about her new adventure. 

Back in February, I told how I had suddenly been seized by the inspiration to write a book in an area new to me. I didn’t want to say too much about it until the book had found a home. I am pleased to say that this is now the case.

A feature of our ageing society is that we are finding more and more people with...

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Stories from the Landscape, Fay Sampson in Ireland

By Fay Sampson ~ October 5, 2016

 I love walking through an evocative landscape and finding the stories that belong to it. 

Our holiday this year was in the village of Kinvara on Galway Bay in the west of Ireland. Our son and his partner have a traditional stone and thatch cottage there. Mark understands the things I love and took us on a walk to a Celtic hermitage.

 

The story begins at the castle of Dunguaire in Kinvara. It is said that King Guaire was feasting there on Easter day when the food was lifted from the table and wafted across the countryside. The king and his court followed. They were led to the...

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Fay Sampson Mines Riches from Family Research

By Fay Sampson ~ May 16, 2016

 It began when my young grandson came home from school saying that his homework was to find out what he could about his family roots. Our son rang us to see if we could help. From then on, both he and I were smitten with the family history bug. It appeals to me for all sorts of reasons. 

Before I became a writer I was a mathematics teacher. It’s all about solving problems. Sometimes the progression back from...

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Fay Sampson Discovers Frankenstein and Family Roots in Great Fulford

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ February 27, 2016

For my husband’s birthday we attended a promenade performance of Frankenstein by the Four of Swords theatre company. This took place in the historic manor house of Great Fulford.

Getting there was an adventure in itself. On a dark country lane we picked out the white sign that read FRANKENSTEIN – GREAT FULFORD. ...

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An Inspired Fay Sampson Muses on Inspiration

By Fay Sampson ~ February 10, 2016

Writing is addictive. Throughout my writing career, I have not finished writing one book before the next one has been pushing to be written. Sometimes there is a log jam of ideas. I have to prod the pile and see which is the next one to float free.

But towards the end of last year I realised that this wasn’t happening. It wasn’t writer’s block. I had several ideas for books I could write and would enjoy writing. But none of them had that imperative I’d been used to

I wondered whether...

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Fay Sampson Celebrates a Golden Anniversary

By Fay Sampson ~ December 14, 2015

 I almost overlooked it. When the hardback of my latest crime thriller, The Wounded Thorn, came out in February I thought it was my 49th book. Since I was 80 this year, I thought it would have been nice for this to have been my 50th

Then, a few months ago, I discovered that a small book I had written for the Association of Christian Writers, Your Guide to Creating a Christian Writer Group, had been published two years ago by Media Associates International as an ebook available on Amazon. 

Suddenly the numbers changed. The Wounded Thorn was now...

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A Year of Prehistory

By Fay Sampson ~ October 25, 2015

 I’m having a great year for prehistory. I celebrated my 80th birthday at the spine-tingling stone circle of Avebury (see post of July 8), We followed this up with a weekend at Stonehenge, led by archaeologist Mike Stone.

 

What is great about both Avebury and Stonehenge is that it is not just a single site, impressive though that is. Both are surrounded by a whole sacred landscape. 

So in the chill of early morning we were at Woodhenge, where rings of concrete pillars now show where once the wooden posts stood more than 4000 years ago.

...

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Ways with Words at Dartington Hall

By Fay Sampson ~ August 3, 2015

 We have just enjoyed our annual literary feast: the nine days Ways with Words festival at Dartington Hall. This is held in the marvellous setting of the 14th-century stately home built by John Holand, half-brother of Richard II, and his wife Elizabeth of Lancaster.

During the festival, the lawn is scattered with deck-chairs printed with the covers of famous books published by Penguin. There is usually a queue snaking around the cobbled paths, waiting for the next event in the Great Hall. And what a spectacular venue. Banners hang the length of the hall, below the high-vaulted roof. The conventional seating is greatly increased...

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Fay Sampson Celebrates 80th Birthday at Avebury

By Fay Sampson ~ July 8, 2015

  

Given my love of places, and particularly ancient sacred sites, it was not surprising that I chose to celebrate my 80th birthday at Avebury. Avebury is less well known than nearby Stonehenge, but it is in some ways even more evocative.

 

We stayed in a guesthouse which is probably the only B&B in the world where you wake up in the middle of a Neolithic stone circle.

 

The circle of massive sarsen stones, with other arrangements of stones within it, dates back four and a half thousand years. The surrounding bank and...

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Fay Sampson Discovers Recurring Themes in Her Work

By Fay Sampson ~ April 20, 2015

t’s strange how some ideas haunt you, turning up repeatedly in your work, even when you don’t consciously will it. 

When I set out to write the Aidan Mysteries I wanted to set them in sacred places that had seized my imagination when I first visited them – a wonderful excuse, too, for a second, in-depth pilgrimage. I set the third of these, A Corpse in Holy Waters, around the sacred wells of Cornwall and Devon. In particular, there was that little chapel of St Clether, out on the moor, where the stream comes into the church from one well-house, flows behind the altar, and out into a second sacred well...

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Richard III Inspires Reflection on Crime Novels

By Fay Sampson ~ March 23, 2015

 I have just been watching the opening stages in the reburial of the bones of Richard III, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He was the last of the Plantaganet kings and the last English king to die in battle.

It is the culmination of a remarkable story. The victor Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII,...

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Iona, Fay Sampson's "Most Inspirational" Place

By Fay Sampson ~ September 2, 2014

 This summer we have been to one of my most inspirational places – Iona. This is a small off the west coast of Scotland

.

Saint Columba came here in 563, in penance for causing a war. He founded a Celtic abbey, a church and a cluster of huts for sleeping and other activities. The monks went out across the North of Britain to evangelise the native Picts. After Columba’s death, others came down into England and lit the fire of Christianity in the great Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

Vikings raided, and massacred the monks on the beach. The monks sailed...

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Fay Sampson Reflects on a Journey Through Turkey: A Visit to Santa Claus's Tomb

By Fay Sampson ~ April 12, 2014

I have made no secret of the fact that places are very important to me. They were the inspiration for my very first books, and still inspire my stories.

 
I mostly write about real places, and love to visit them. Usually, I will have been there before and have felt something special there which makes me want to enshrine them in a book.
 
But I also love travelling for holidays too. I’m no good at lying on a beach or sitting by a pool reading a book. I want to see things, to fill my memory with new experiences, new places. So we mostly go on...

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Stories from the Ruins. Behind the Latest Suzie Fewings Mystery

By Fay Sampson ~ January 16, 2014

 

Critics of family history enthusiasts sometimes claim that such people are self-centred, focusing obsessively on their roots in the hope of turning up...

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Musings on Social Media

By Fay Sampson ~ November 6, 2013

Welcome back, Fay Sampson, with some thoughts on a topic that is never far from a writer's mind— to what extent should we let the internet invade our lives? And how can we possibly find time to write if we do all the social media we are told we should do?  

Fay and I would both love to  hear how our readers control this ever-pressing aspect of modern life.

Fay also reports that Beneath the Soil, the sixth Suzie Fewings genealogical thriller will be out with Severn House in...

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Fay Sampson Reports from The London Book Fair

By Fay Sampson ~ April 17, 2013

 

I’m just back from my first trip to the London Book Fair. It’s a tremendous event. 27,000 publishing industry representatives over three days. I didn’t know whether to be excited to be part of it or dwarfed to insignificance by the scale of it.  http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/
                                                                        ...

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Fay Sampson Visits The Dordogne

By Fay Sampson ~ November 19, 2012

I've written before about the joy of research trips: Pennant Melangell, Burnley and Lindisfarne recently. And I'm planning another, rather closer to home, to evocative Cornish churches and pilgrimage sites which I may use in my next Aidan Mystery. More of that later.

But there is the tremendous liberation of going on holiday without another book in mind. Somewhere for pure enjoyment.

This autumn it was the Dordogne, also known as the Perigord, in France. I was attracted to it by the pictures of rocky river gorges and medieval castles perched on the cliffs above. What...

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Researching Lindisfarne

By Fay Sampson ~ August 30, 2012


Half the fun of writing novels is the research. But when is the best time to do it? If it's an historical novel, then it's really important to steep yourself in that period before setting pen to paper or opening that new document. You need not only to read what has been written about the period, but things written in that period. You want to capture something of how people thought, as well as lived.

Place is very important to me. My first children's novels arose from places in my native West Country that cried out to have stories written about them. The challenge...

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Father Unknown now an Ebook

By Fay Sampson ~ March 12, 2012

 

I’m currently looking forward to my first ebook. Severn House will be producing Father Unknown in electronic form on 1 April (I trust that’s not a joke), along with the paperback edition. It’s the fourth in the Suzie Fewings genealogical mystery series. The earlier ones will be converted to e-format soon after.
 
This is new territory for me. I look forward to seeing how ebook sales compare with print.
 
I was given a Kindle for Christmas. To be honest, I haven’t used it much yet....

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OVER-ENTHUSIASM

By Fay Sampson ~ January 31, 2012

 

I share with Donna the delight in researching the background to my books. But, as I discovered recently, it is possible to get carried away by this.
 
I was still working on one novel when I began to get the itch to come up with ideas for another mystery in a series I am writing for a different publisher.
 
This involved background research on the cotton spinning and weaving towns of north-west England. This is my husband’s family background. So I had made many visits in the days when his parents lived there.
 
This time, I had more specific objectives. The story I plan to tell interweaves the Industrial Revolution of...

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Mills and Mountains

By Fay Sampson ~ September 16, 2011

 

Mills and Mountains
 
Just back from another fascinating research trip. This time, the Fewings genealogical hunt takes them to the north of England, where Nick’s ancestors were cotton weavers. Needless to say, there are dark doings in the present which match up with some of the darker times of the past.
 
My inspiration came from my husband Jack’s Lancashire ancestry. I am particularly intrigued by his great-great-great-grandfather, John Tootle, who appears in the 1941 census as a handloom weaver. He is just the kind of person who is being put out of work by the Industrial Revolution. But John has another string to his bow. In the next census he is...

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A Visit to Pennant Melangell

By Fay Sampson ~ May 26, 2011

Researching books can take you to some wonderful places. Some years ago, I was at a course on Celtic history and beliefs in North Wales. One of our field trips took us to a medieval pilgrimage site at the end of the road in the Berwyn Mountains.

I was immediately impressed with the peace of...

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That All-important James Bond Opening

By Fay Sampson ~ March 14, 2011

James Bond hangs from the undercarriage of a helicopter spinning dizzily thousands of feet above an active volcano. Dodging hot lava spewing at him from below and bullets fired from above, he scrambles into the cabin, wrestles with the villain as the chopper, now pilotless, spirals toward the abyss. At the last minute Bond defeats the enemy and rights the 'copter. All without wrinkling his French cuffs.

We don't have a clue what's going on, but we are rivited. Novelist and editor Fay Sampson says that's how our novels should start:

 

 

 

Not long ago I went to an excellent session on short story writing, led by Veronica Bright. Much of her wisdom...

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Those in Peril

By Fay Sampson ~ July 6, 2010

 

When Fay Sampson posted last month about how her own foray into family genealogy led to writing IN THE BLOOD, the first of her Suzie Fewings Mysteries I knew I wanted to read one. I had first discovered Fay many years ago when I was writing GLASTONBURY and found her wonderful DAUGHTER OF TINTAGEL in a similar genre to what I was writing then. And now here we are, both writing mysteries.

I have just finished reading A MALIGNANT HOUSE book #2 in Suzie’s adventures and found it a gripping plot with characters I really cared about. The genealogical research background was so well developed— and...

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