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.
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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.
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 then it became even more fun when Fay told me the document chest which is central to the plot was based on one she actually worked with.
I highly recommend this series and am delighted that this month Fay is giving us a peek at the third book in the series: THOSE IN PERIL. I already like it. "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" is one of my favorite hymns and i can never sing "For those in peril on the sea. . ." without getting misty-eyed. I'ts a standard funeral hymn in England and in America, the Navy Hymn.
When I first starting writing the Suzie Fewings mysteries, my editor wondered whether there would be enough plot material involving a family history researcher to sustain a series. I assured her there was. Anyone who has ventured on that quest willknow the wealth of surprising stories that turn up, and the fascinating experiences we have while discovering them. Endless inspiration for fiction.
But the readers are entitled to some unexpected twists and new angles as the series progresses. The first two stories were told from Suzie’s point of view, and were set in the south-west of Britain, somewhere very like my own county of Devon. For the third book, just published, I’ve taken the family off to the east coast of England. It’s a very different landscape, mostly flat fenland. And the key person, whose experience we follow, is Suzie’s previously long-suffering husband Nick. This time, it’s his ancestors we’re hunting for, starting with a famous lifeboatman. Suddenly, he’s hooked, too.
As before, the whole family gets involved, and darker stories from the past find a sinister resonance with dark deeds in the present.
I found no need to call upon flights of fancy for this book. The image that starts the whole thing off is a framed portrait of the lifeboatman. My son-in-law has just such a photograph of his ancestor. And just about everything that follows comes out of my research into either his family, or my own ancestors. The latter were among the once-notorious Deal Boatman of Kent. One kept a pub reputed to be used by smugglers. And there were heroes among them too.
For the modern side, you don’t have to look far to find shady, even deadly, dealings around our coastline today.
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
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