Q&A: Donna Fletcher Crow
Murder is afoot at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire where Felicity Howard is training to become an Anglican priest. Now it's up to her and Fr. Anthony - who's wanted by the police - to follow the clues left in a poem and solve the mystery of Fr. Anthony's death.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE?
I had wanted to tell St. Cuthbert’s story ever since I first “met” him at Durham Cathedral more than two decades ago. How this quiet man living on a remote island could change his world by simply being holy fascinated me. I wrote a proposal for what eventually became A Very Private Grave in the 90’s and sold it to three publishers. Each time another story intervened or something happened to keep me from writing that book.
Finally in 2001, my daughter, who had studied classics at Oxford and found she disliked teaching in London, went off to a monastery in Yorkshire to study theology. That gave me the perfect setting to tell Cuthbert’s story in a modern setting. My heroine Felicity shares some of my daughter’s background, but she is nothing like her personality. Felicity is rash, impulsive and headstrong so when her favorite monk is brutally murdered and her church history lecturer is accused of the crime, she charges into action.
This action takes Felicity and Antony across northern England and southern Scotland following Cuthbert’s footsteps—and being followed by murderers.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
The English classics have always inspired me: Jane Austen, the Brontes, Dickens. They still inspire me, but I’ve added mystery writers to my list: Dorothy L. Sayers, P. D. James, Kate Charles ... Oh, there are so many. I’m an obsessive reader.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Everything springs from my faith. My subject is the history of British Christianity and I have a passionate desire to share stories of the faith. Those who have gone before us have suffered so much to keep the faith for us. It’s important to keep their stories alive.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Mostly I’ve always wanted to be a reader. I was an only child growing up on a farm. My mother was ill a great deal so I was alone. I loved nothing more than to sit under a Cottonwood tree or lie flat in the middle of an alfalfa field and read.
It was only after I had written my first novel Brandley’s Search that I was cleaning out a cupboard in my mother’s basement and found a series of novels I had written and illustrated (each about 5 pages long) when I was in the sixth grade. I realized that the spark had always been there.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I want my readers to see God at work in the world. In all times, in all places. So many times in history the flame of Truth has burned much lower than it is today. But there have always been men and women of faith who stood strong and God’s word has flared again. It’s up to us to hold the torch aloft and pass it on.