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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

Background is Forethought in Ben Reese Mysteries

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ March 16, 2012

Donna: I am so delighted to announce that all six of Sally Wright's wonderful Ben Reese Mysteries are now available in ebook format! In celebration, I've asked Sally to give my readers a peek at the story behind the story and tell us about how she developed the backgrounds that play wuch an important part in these stories. 

Sally, let's start with the last of the series first. Tell us about Code of Silence.

 

Sally Wright, a 2001 Edgar Finalist, has studied rare books, early explorers, painting restoration, WWII-tech teams, the Venona Code, and more, to write her university-archivist-ex-WWII-Scout books about Ben Reese, who's based on a real person. Like most authors, Sally's been obsessed with books all her life and considers Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers among the ones that've influenced her most.
 
Sally and her husband have two grown children, and live in northwestern Ohio. You can visit her website at  www.sallywright.net

 

Sally: Code Of Silence is a prequel to the rest of the Ben Reese series that revolves around the recently revealed Soviet Venona Code and the American and British attempts to decrypt it during and after WWII.  http://ning.it/FOl9l2  Yet, strangely, I found myself going back to my childhood for both settings and characters.

The Venona work has real implications for understanding the Cold War, and it made sense to open the novel in Arlington Hall in Arlington, Virginia, where the decrypting was done in the States. I worked with the historians at the Library of Congress and the NSA who know most about Venona, who were very kind and very interesting (one of whom actually asked to be made a character in the book and appears in an early scene).

But the end of Code Of Silence takes place in the mountains of North Carolina where I spent time with my grandparents from the age of five to ten.

We would stay a couple of weeks every summer in a rustic trailer-like wooden cabin owned by their friends, but it was the family in the old mountain cabin deeper back in the woods that I found fascinating.

The parents had very little formal education, and the father only took occasional part-time work, but they raised eight kids on that mountain, growing fruits and vegetables and hunting meat for the table. I really liked the father, who even took me through the woods (for what felt like miles) because he’d seen "bees dancin’" and was following them home to the hive to gather honey for the family.

Unfortunately, I once said something to him that hurt the feelings of his oldest son, and that unintended indiscretion of mine gets used in Code Of Silence to complicate the relationship between two of the major characters many years on. The cabin itself is the scene of the denouement, and it meant a lot to me to relive those years again and describe what I remember.

I don’t have any photographs of that mountain, or the cabin clinging to its side, but it’s stuck firmly in my memory. And when I was in my thirties, twenty some years since I’d been there, my husband I were vacationing a hundred miles away and drove over to try to find it. Lots had changed about Black Mountain, even the approach road was very different, but something clicked, suddenly, and I was able to direct us right to it.

The wife was there all alone - kids scattered all over, husband recently dead. But at least I got to tell her how much I’d loved knowing her family and learning about living on that mountain - the trees, the plants, the animals who roamed it - from a quiet, wise, gentle man who wasn’t too busy to take time for a child, his, and a stranger’s too.

Donna:  Thank you, Sally. It's always fascinating to hear what's in an author's mind when they develop a story. I hope everyone will come back next week for the background stories of Pursuit and Persuasion and Watches of the Night. Sally has some great photographs she'll be sharing to put you in the scene, too.

Sally Wright, a 2001 Edgar Finalist, has studied rare books, early explorers, painting restoration, WWII-tech teams, the Venona Code, and more, to write her university-archivist-ex-WWII-Scout books about Ben Reese, who's based on a real person. Like most authors, Sally's been obsessed with books all her life and considers Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers among the ones that've influenced her most.
 
Sally and her husband have two grown children, and live in northwestern Ohio. You can visit her website at  www.sallywright.net

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

I agree. It's fascinating to see what's in the author's mind, how memories of events turn into events newly imagined.
-Sheila Deeth, March 19, 2012

Thank you for stopping by Sheila. it's so true,isn't it? As a writer you never know what will boil to the surface. All our experiences are in there somewhere.
-donna, March 19, 2012

It is amazing where the ideas come from for all writers. In Pride And Predator three characters and their complicated relationships came directly from a dream.
-sally wright, March 20, 2012

Fascinating, Sally. I've only dreamed a scene for a book I was writing once--way back for A GENTLE CALLING in the Cambridge Collection. This could make a fascinating discussion--I wonder how many writers dream their characters or scenes.
-Donna, March 20, 2012

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