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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.

Claire Dunn, Author of Mortal Fire

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ September 2, 2012

I am so pleased to have Claire Dunn as my guest today. I have just read a magazine article about Claire's new novel, actually her first novel, Mortal Fire, and a truly gripping excerpt from the book. I can promise, this is a book you don't want to miss! But before yourush out to buy the book, let's hear from Claire herself, and then, if you can, take just one more minute to hop on over to Claire's blog where she is hosting an interview with yours truly

And now, here's Claire— 

Donna, thank you so much for inviting me as your guest on your blog, and I have the pleasure of reciprocating with you on my blog! Although we work on opposite sides of the Atlantic, we write in a similar genre and our books have much in common, combining history, mystery and a touch of romance.

Mortal Fire

: A Sense of Time and Place

I suppose it was inevitable I would end up writing a romantic mystery with a historical twist. My father's family came from a long line of Lincolnshire people based mainly in and around the ancient town of Stamford. History drips from the honey-coloured stone; it is absorbed with every footstep. The ghosts of its past linger behind windows and in the shadows of the narrow passages between the streets. How could I— with a background such as this— ignore the voices of the past?

Working historic themes into a contemporary novel is a challenge, because— as Emma D'Eresby, Mortal Fire's heroine, finds— we can never really escape the past. Research forms the backbone on which the story hangs, so when it came to writing a romantic mystery about not only a different area, but another country, I needed to do some careful investigation. I wanted to find a country within a certain flying distance of the UK, and one which provided a contrast to the urban environment of the old stone city of the University of Cambridge from which Emma has taken a year's secondment.

Using an atlas, the internet and the expertise of an ex-pilot, I searched for somewhere in Europe, then further abroad. I scoured the United States, and time and again found myself drawn to New England (nothing to do with the name!) Maine offered an ideal backdrop to the unfolding story— a state with a strong identity and an unpretentious sense of the past.

Sketching out the scenes, I planned a research trip one autumn to provide the details, with my artistic daughter in tow, to offer her creative eye. Landing at Portland Jet Port, we arrived to find the airport was exactly as I'd envisaged, despite never having visited before. Moreover, the weather mirrored that which Emma D'Eresby encountered when she stepped off the plane at the beginning of her year at the fictitious university college at Howard's Lake.

It grew better and better. Staying at the romantic Inn at Long Lake, Naples, the following morning at breakfast, a guest on a neighbouring table leant over and introduced himself and his wife. They offered to take us to Bridgeton which provided an ideal location for some background detail for the book. Over lunch (a haddock chowder to die for) he told us what he did for a living (which I can't reveal here because it would be a bit of a spoiler). Suffice to say, he provided the precise information I needed to complete a scene of some technical detail.

And so it went on. Over the period in which we enjoyed the warm hospitality of the people of Maine and the understated natural environment, time and again things fell into place as if meant. By the end of the visit, I had a wealth of information and enough photographs to fill a dozen albums.

Blending the facts with fiction is not always easy, and only a fraction of the information gathered has been used in Mortal Fire. Some will be used in subsequent books in the Secret of the Journal serial, while much is filtered, processed and fused into tiny snippets of background 'colour'.

Visiting Maine allowed me to experience the atmosphere of the area first hand, as the state is essentially another character in Mortal Fire. As I remarked to my daughter one day as we travelled with Norm Forgey of Maine Day Trip to Bethel and beyond, some places just feel right and Maine is one of them. Needless to say, I plan to return to research the second book in the Secret of the Journal serial— Death Be Not Proud.


Mortal Fire

Twenty-nine-year-old independent and self-assured history professor, Emma D'Eresby has one obsession in life: the curious journal of a seventeenth-century Englishman, a portion of which was left to her by her late grandfather.

When an unexpected opportunity to study the journal in its entirety presents itself, Emma finds herself leaving Cambridge to take up a year-long position at a prestigious university in Maine.

But events don't go to plan.

Faced with the romantic attentions of seductive Sam Weisner, and the bewildering mystery of Matthew Lynes, if Emma thought that she could escape the complications of romance which dogged her past, she is gravely mistaken. Despite her attempts to concentrate on her work as an academic tutor, Emma finds the distractions of her colleagues beguiling, with her effervescent Russian friend Elena, determined to match-make; furthermore the attentions of Professor Kort Staahl become disturbingly sinister.

The unfurling romance and a deepening mystery develop amidst the backdrop of a stunning Maine autumn. Faced with stark choices, Emma struggles with her past and the growing attraction to the man whose own history seems bound to it. Emma's future hangs on a knife-edge. What is the link between him and the journal? And what is he trying to hide?

Mortal Fire

(The Secret of the Journal) published in the UK by Monarch Books, and in the USA by Kregel

Find me at: and on Facebook at: Mortal Fire (Secret of the Journal) where you are always welcome to contact me.

or follow me on Twitter: CF Dunn

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:

thank you so much, Claire. I love blog exchanges! And thank you for the beautiful presentation of my interview on your blog. I know Mortal Fire will be a great success. I can't wait to read more.
-Donna, September 2, 2012

And thank you for hosting my blog, Donna. One of the best things about writing is the opportunity to meet new people and exchange ideas despite being on opposite sides of the puddle.
-CF Dunn, September 3, 2012

Thank you for the post on Mortal Fire..sounds good!
-Celticlady, September 5, 2012

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