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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


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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.

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Welcome, Novelist Donn Taylor

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ October 26, 2011

My guest today is novelist Donn Taylor whose novel The Lazarus File, like its namesake, has returned to life. I asked Donn to tell us about  the research and writing of this most unusual novel. Over to you, Donn:

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Donna, and thanks for the prompt about how I came to write my suspense novel The Lazarus File. For Lazarus has been resurrected once again—this time as an e-book available through Amazon and B&N.

Unlike my mystery Rhapsody in Red, which developed rather suddenly, Lazarus was a long time in coming about. In the mid-1960s I was assigned as commander of an Army aviation company in Verdun, France, and my pilots were flying deHavilland Otters all over free Europe and the Mediterranean area. I happened then to read Gavin Lyall's The Wrong Side of the Sky, a suspense novel set in the Mediterranean area, and I decided, "Someday I'd like to write a novel like that."

The writing had to wait out a Vietnam tour, graduate school, and eighteen years of college teaching before I got around to it. Meanwhile, I met Lewis Tambs—historian, former ambassador to Colombia and Costa Rica, and a member of the National Security Council. From him I learned many details of Communist global strategy and its interface with Colombian insurgent forces and drug cartels. (Tambs is the man who coined the term "narco-terrorism.") Meeting with him led me to set the novel in the Caribbean area. Ambassador Tambs was also kind enough to let me use some of his concepts in the novel, and he enjoyed the fact that I put them in the mouth of a CIA defector.
From there, I did library research on Colombia and drug smuggling, part of which resulted in an accurately detailed drug-smuggling flight in the novel. For that, I also had to track down an actual DC-3 aircraft and learn its basic operation. Originally, I'd planned a male-oriented story much like Gavin Lyall's—a disgraced pilot working his way back to the right side of the sky. But the characters asserted themselves in other directions. The woman who was to be a minor love interest blossomed into a business genius determined to improve the lot of her workers. The disgraced pilot changed into an undercover agent only nominally disgraced, a man who keeps his promises even to the point of death.
And then there was Ramón, intended as a minor character used to bring hero and heroine together. But in doing so, he spoke in chop-logic and clichés that he never got quite right. ("You will find the grass is greener when you are not straddling the fence.") So he developed into a character who uses wildly elaborate masquerades and other schemes to achieve fairly simple results.
I must also credit my friends in The Woodlands Writers Guild for innumerable critiques and suggestions: I found it harder than I'd thought to convert from scholarly and technical writing to fiction writing. And somewhere in there, Guida Jackson, who has eighteen books to her credit, formed Panther Creek Press and asked to publish Lazarus. I certainly didn't say no. So the novel lived its life and eventually went out of print.
Meanwhile, Moody publishers brought out my mystery, Rhapsody in Red, which is still very much alive. Yes, there's a murder, but the book is a light-hearted story set on a small-college campus, with a history professor who suffers musical hallucinations and a hard-headed female professor of comparative religions. There's also a good bit of satire of the campus scene, including the foolishness of political correctness.
But now I'm happy that Lazarus has been resurrected as an e-book and able to reach a broader audience than its small-press origins enabled. It can be previewed at
My thanks again to Donna for inviting me onto her blog. I remain impressed by her remarkably detailed expertise in medieval English history. Keep writing those Monastery Mysteries, Donna!

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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Reader Comments:

I found Donn's remarks very interesting. His background, and that of those he's worked with, would seem to make him very well suited to write an insightful novel on narco-terrorism and its connections to US intelligence.

I know what it's like to do the necessary research on somewhat related topics, having written about the Soviet Venona Code in my Ben Reese novel, Code Of Silence. I met so many interesting people - who helped me tirelessly - in learning about code breaking during and after WWII that my whole life was enriched.

Hope you do reach a wider audience, Donn.
-Sally Wright, October 27, 2011

Donn, as a devoted reader of RHAPSODY IN RED, I'm intrigued by your ebook, too. I KNOW your writing is stellar!

Thanks for some interesting background on LAZARUS. Made a great interview, and a great book, I'm sure.

Warmly, Cathy
-Cathy Elliott, October 27, 2011

Sally and Cathy, thank you for your enthusiastic comments. Sally, I think you and Donn will enjoy each other's writing.
-Donna, October 27, 2011

This is a very timely post. Turns out today only Donn's novel, The Lazarus File, is available on Kindle and NOOK for 99 cents.
-Eddie Jones, October 27, 2011

The possibility of reading an earlier Donn Taylor book has convinced this dyed-in-the-wool PAPER reader to join the 21st century and read ebooks! Can THE LAZARUS FILE be as enjoyable as RHAPSODY IN RED? I'll find out!
-Peggy Ellis, October 27, 2011

Great story, and I look forward to reading it. I have two sons from Colombia and I traveled to Colombia in the 1980s. Drug smuggling and kidnapping of Americans was almost an everyday happening then.
-Regina Smeltzer, October 27, 2011

So glad you are able to bring Lazarus back to life, Donn! That's one of the wonderful things about e-books. Blessings!
-Cheryl Linn Martin, October 27, 2011

What an intriguing background for a book. It's available now Donn?
-Linda, October 28, 2011

Thanks to all of you for the gracious comments, and to Donna for having me on her blog. I hope you all enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed the research and writing.
-Donn Taylor, October 28, 2011

Your characters sound really interesting.
-Sheila Deeth, October 28, 2011


Thanks for a great post. What a journey "Lazarus" has taken! And what meticulous researching was done by you. Can't wait to read it. I downloaded it to my Nook just the other night :-)

-deetales, October 28, 2011

I am so delighted with all your comments! What a dedicated group of readers Donn has. And what a pleasure it's been to have him as a guest on "Deeds of Darkness;Deeds of Light." happy reading, everybody, and all the best with your writing, Donn!
-Donna, October 28, 2011

These novels sound like wonderful historical mysteries, well-researched and unique. I agree that e-book publication is keeping many fine books available to readers.
-Jacqueline Seewald, October 29, 2011

I love Donn Taylor's work and as soon as I get my Kindle, I'll be buying Lazarus. Rhapsody was funny and well written, also with a marvelous female protag.

But to really see Donn shine, you've got to read his poetry in Dust and Diamond.
-Carol McClain, October 30, 2011

Many thanks to all of you for your gracious comments. I hope the book lives up to your expectations.
-Donn Taylor, November 1, 2011

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