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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

Mother Versus Daughter

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ July 19, 2011

I have long been a fan of Ellie Quick, Veronica Heley's gently determined, overage detective.  When I heard that Veronica has a new Ellie Quick adventure just out I cheered and then asked Veronica to share some of Ellie's background with my "Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light" readers. 

I asked Veronica especially to focus on the uneasy mother-daughter relationship between Ellie and her difficult daughter Diana.  I find this such an interesting relationship because it seems that most such clashes (as the one between Felicity and her over-bearing mother in the next installment of my Monastery Murders) is written from the daughter's viewpoint.  Ellie gives us the other side of the coin.

And here Veronica gives us some wonderful, in-depth analysis of Diana— what she's like and some of the things that have made her that way.  it helps us understand Diana, even if we can't like her.

Over to you, Veronica: 

I thought I’d imagined Diana, Ellie Quicke’s appalling daughter, but it appears she’s alive and well and the bane of her mother’s life, everywhere.

I am at the moment working on the thirteenth story in the Ellie Quicke series. Diana has featured in all of them, and while I know that my readers enjoy hearing all about Ellie’s struggle to solve various neighbourhood crimes, they are equally if not more interested in discovering what dreadful design Diana has upon our heroine, and how Ellie will thwart it.

Let me state, here and now, that although my husband and I have a grown-up daughter, she is as unlike Diana as could be. In fact, I really don’t know where Diana came from. Perhaps from listening to friends talking about their problem families?

But who, I ask myself, has a daughter as rapacious and as bullying as Diana? Who else but Diana cuts so many corners in business matters, and twists the truth to her own advantage? Who else assumes she has the right to the best that life can offer, while ignoring the need for honesty at home or at work? Who else ignores the needs of her only son when it suits her to do so?

We’d admire these traits in a business man, wouldn’t we? Or at least, excuse them. But in a woman . . .? Not so.

Nevertheless, I have to admire Diana for her nerve, her courage, and her slim figure. In this grabby, me, Me, ME world, I don’t think she’s unique.

Over the years Diana has acquired various properties but, like fairy gold, these assets have turned to dust and ashes in her hands, so that she has never attained the wealthy life-style that she considers her due.

Let’s face it; she’s an adventuress. I could forgive her much if only she were kinder to Ellie.

 

So what of her mother in all this? Where do Diana’s genes come from

Ellie is now in her early sixties, not as tall as her daughter and conscious of a figure that is far from svelte. She has short curly silvery hair and a good complexion. Ellie always looks as if she’d going to smile, and is interested in everything and everybody. She is loving and giving, sometimes unsure of herself. She has a wide circle of friends.

Diana is fashionable, string-thin, harsh-voiced. Diana is interested in no one except herself. She divorced a loving husband because he didn’t live up to her expectations, and she neglects their son.

Which of them is content with her lot? Not Diana.

In this new book – MURDER MY NEIGHBOUR – Diana is so provoked by

Ellie’s refusal to go along with her latest plan, that she . . . no, I won’t spoil it for you. But what Diana does, or tries to do, alters Ellie’s perception of her daughter for good, and drives her to question how Diana became the difficult person she is now.

 

It goes back to childhood, of course. I see small children badgering their parents in shops to buy them this or that. If they go on long enough, the mother will usually give in, and I note that the mother has just taught her child that he or she will get whatever it is they want, if they persist. Diana did persist throughout childhood, having discovered that Ellie couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up to her, and that her father would always indulge her slightest whim.

Here we mustn’t forget that Ellie suffered a number of miscarriages during Diana’s childhood, and that they left her feeling too drained to cope with a strong-minded child.

Frank Quicke, Diana’s father, must step forward here. Though Ellie never acknowledged this about her husband, he was brought up in a money-pinching household to believe that Money is King, and that he should always put himself and his ambitions first. He loved Ellie, recognised that she was a better person than him, and feared to lose her. His method of holding on to her was to denigrate her before their daughter and in public at every opportunity.

 

He’d say, ‘Don’t touch my computer; you’d be sure to break it.’ Or, ‘Of course you can’t learn to drive, you silly woman. You’d signal right and turn left.’

 

Almost to the end of Frank’s life, if Diana – who was so like him – wanted something, he would give it to her, and he overrode any attempt by Ellie to teach her daughter a sense of right and wrong.

By the time of Frank’s early death, Ellie’s self-esteem was at an all time low, and it was only when she was left alone in life that she began to think for herself.

 

So, twelve books later, what does the future hold for mother and daughter?

 

Ellie has become a stronger person. She is no longer a downtrodden housewife, but the head of a charitable trust which Diana would dearly like to get her hands on – but can’t. Ellie has inherited a large house and is now happily married to her best friend, Thomas. Diana has had various traumatic love affairs, and now has her sights set on a wealthy man who is already married.

 

I’m afraid you’ll have to wait till the next book comes out to find out whether it’s going to end in tears or triumph for my best-loved, and best-hated villainess.

 

MURDER MY NEIGHBOUR, Severn House, hb June 2011

FALSE REPORT, Severn House, hb November 2011

Veronica Heley

 

www.veronicaheley.com   

 

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:

Veronica, thank you for being our guest and for that really helpful analysis of Diana.

And a huge congratulations on your thirteenth Ellie Quick Mystery! I had no idea there are so many of them. I have lots of wonderful reading to do to catch up.
-Donna, July 19, 2011

I have been reading your books from the beginning, and look forward to each Ellie book. You are a very observant lady, and I enjoy your writings very much. If I were Diana's therapist, I would suggest that she be the best she could be, instead of competing with her mother's goodness, and failing. I have enjoyed Ellie's spunkiness; Diana seems very disappointed in her inability to rule her mother. Unfortunately, people like Diana rarely end up in therapy. It's to hard and threatening to change. That's my two penny thought.
-Lil Gluckstern, July 19, 2011

That's a fascinating character study. Veronica has created great, vivid story people who seem quite real. Well done!
-DeAnna Julie Dodson, July 19, 2011

I agree, DeAnna, Veronica sets a high standard for all writers to understand our characters as well as she understands hers. I imagine working with them through 13 books would deepen one's understanding, too.
-Donna, July 19, 2011

Hi Veronica
Congratulations on such a succesful series. It's a real problem, isn't? How do nice people end up with horrible kids? The answers to that question can be fascinating. I remember from the first Ellie book how she struggled to turn on the computer as Frank would never let her near it. He was obviously such an overbearing man, it gave a lot of clues to how the relationship would develop.
Congratulations again,
Dolores
-Dolores Gordon-Smith, July 20, 2011

Veronica here. Thanks for your comments. I like the idea of Diana going into therapy. Recently Thomas suggested she went on an anger management course, but of course she didn't. She never gives up, though, and in this next book she's set her eyes on a different target, and is using Ellie to help her achieve it. I think this time - maybe - Diana will get what she wants. Veronica Heley

-Veronica Heley, July 20, 2011

Oh, Veronica, now you really have our curiosity up. If Diana's plan is going to work out I hope Ellie thinks it's a better one than she usually comes up with.
-Donna, July 20, 2011

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