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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.

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.

Writing from Life

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ June 23, 2012

Be sure you read to the end for details of how to win a free copy of A MIDSUMMER EVE'S NIGHTMARE.

"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. The fact that so many of those experiences grew out of research trips makes me think that the far better advice would be "Write what you're willing to research." And not just willing, but really, really passionate about.

So, I believe, the best advice is "write from your passion."

This has certainly been true with my Elizabeth and Richard romantic suspense series:

THE SHADOW OF REALITY, Book 1 in the series, 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. Elizabeth and Richard's 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 for a Shakespeare festival.

Which leads to book 2 A MIDSUMMER EVE'S NIGHTMARE. For more years that I can recall (I think Shakespeare was alive when we started) my husband and I attended the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon. So when Elizabeth's sister Victoria begs her to come help her with strange goings-on backstage, I had the prefect opportunity to use my years of festival-going. And it was perfect for Elizabeth and Richard who are looking for a quite, romantic spot with a touch of literary charm for their honeymoon. Perfect, that is, until it turns out that Desdemona's brilliantly acted death scene wasn't acted and Victoria and her rommate are terrified that they are slated to be the next victims.

And the saga goes on, because 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. Jane Austen, my life-long literary love is a natural for these two English professors. Elizabeth would look charming in Regency dress and Richard could rival Colin Firth for Mr. Darcy.

As a matter of fact, I'm more than just thinking— right now I'm in the process of planning my next research trip to England— to include all the Jane Austen sites.

So, to get back to exploring the clichés of our craft, does art follow life; or does life follow art?

I'd have to answer, "Yes."

For more information on the Elizabeth and Richard series, including buy buttons, go to the "Mysteries" page on BOOKS in the menu at the top of this page (You'll need to scroll down a bit to get to Elizabeth & Richard.)

But you might win one FREE! In cooperation with Lisa Johnson's promotion of A MIDSUMMER EVE'S NIGHTMARE on Seeking With All Your Heart   All you have to do is leave a comment below WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. On July 6 I will draw a winner. You can choose whether you would rather receive a print or ebook copy of Elizabeth and Richard's second adventure.

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.

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Reader Comments:

Now I hope you'll all go over to Lisa Johnson's blog and read her review. But don't forget to leave a comment here to enter the drawing before you do!
-Donna, June 25, 2012

It's just me (Mary)! Always looking for your books! Please enter me in the contest. I would enjoy a book in print.
-Mary, June 25, 2012

Thank you, Mary. Drawing will be June 6. always lovely to hear from you. Good luck!
-Donna, June 25, 2012

Donna, Maybe it should be "write what you'd like to know." A trip to all the Jane Austen sites sounds like a blast! I'd love to win an e-copy of your book...
-Lisa Hess, June 26, 2012

I love an adventure. Sign me up for a possible copy of Elizabeth and Richard's second one. Thanks.
judydee22002 at yahoo dot com
-judydee, June 26, 2012

Having just read Shadow of Reality, I would love to read this one too. I'd love to go the Oregon Shakespeare Festival too, but might have to just enjoy it vicariously in fiction, as I did the wonderful murder mystery weekend. sheiladeeth at gmail dot com.
-Sheila Deeth, June 26, 2012

Loved the story of how your mysteries developed. I grew up in NY and am familiar with the Monohok Manor and now live just a stone's throw from Ashland, OR. Looking forward to reading both books.

pennyt at hotmail dot com
-pennyt, June 26, 2012

Wow, very cool! Thank you so much for the interesting read!
-Teralee, June 26, 2012

Love reading murder mysteries. Would prefer print copy so I can pass on to others when finished.
-Fay, June 26, 2012

Sounds like an interesting and fun read.
-jecbib, June 27, 2012

Thanks for all the great entries! Drawing will be July 6.

-Donna, June 29, 2012

Sounds like fun. Would love to win a print copy

boots9k at wowway dot com
-Shirley N , July 1, 2012

Thank you all so much for your delightful comments and for entering my giveaway. Congratulations, PennyT you are the winner!
-Donna, July 8, 2012

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