Saturday, September 27, 2014

Author Interview with Donna F. Crow

Hello friends! Amber Schamel here, and today I have the pleasure of introducing you to the author of one of my favorite novels, A Jane Austen Encounter. This is the first cozy mystery I've ever read, but I really enjoyed it. Donna does a fantastic job of showing you Austen history and places. It's a fun read you won't want to miss, especially if you're a Jane Austen fan!

Donna F. Crow is an author of historical novels including the epic Glastonbury, A Novel of Christian England, which was awarded First Place in Historical Fiction by the National Federation of Press Women. Donna lives and writes in Boise, Idaho.

Welcome Donna! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you, Amber. I’m delighted to be here. It’s always such fun to visit with readers. I’ve written forty-some books, mostly novels with a lot of British history in the background. Now I’m focusing on murder mysteries, keeping three series going. In my personal life, my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary last Christmas. We have 4 children and 13 grandchildren. And I love to garden when I’m not busy writing or playing with grandchildren.

50 years of marriage? Congratulations! That is wonderful. How did you discover your calling to be a writer?
I became a writer because I was a passionate reader. I was devouring Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances when I realized how completely secular they were— one would think all the churches had been boarded up at that time, but I knew it was actually a period of great evangelical fervor. I wrote my first novel Brandley’s Search to set the record straight. That was 35 years ago and I haven’t stopped since.

What books have most influenced your life most?
Apart from the Bible, of course, the novels I have loved have been lamps to my path.  My love for Jane Austen led me to become an English teacher; Georgette Heyer launched my writing; P. D. James and Dorothy L Sayers were among those who led me to writing mysteries.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Oh, I would like to say Jane Austen, but I could never come close to her understatement or wit. I had an extended correspondence with the beloved American novelist Elswyth Thane when I was just beginning to write. Thane recommended books for me to read and gave wonderfully levelheaded advice about the writing life. I am using those letters in my next Elizabeth and Richard mystery The Flame Ignites

What was the most outstanding thing you learned while researching for this novel?
Although one of the things I have always loved the most about Jane Austen is her wit, focusing on excerpts of her novels and letters that fit the various bits I was writing about brought this aspect of her style more sharply into focus for me. It seems Jane never wrote a word without a humorous subtext.

Please tell us about your book The Jane Austen Encounter: of my goals as a writer is to give my readers a “you are there” experience, so this time I take my readers along with Elizabeth and Richard to all the homes Jane Austen lived in. Along the way we meet scholars, eccentrics, lovely people, rascals and worse. And see some beautiful English countryside as Jane might have seen it.

What do you want readers to take away from Jane Austen Encounter?
I hope readers will gain a new (or newly deepened) appreciation for Jane Austen and a feel for the sincerity of her Christian faith. I don’t believe Jane would have been the same writer without her underpinning of true faith. That’s something that tends to get overlooked in today’s society.

I believe you've accomplished that goal. Any fun behind the scenes tidbits you'd like to share with us?
My day at Godmersham Park was a special delight. Since Godmersham is not open to the public I am sincerely grateful to Gregg Ellis, the Estate Manager who gave me a personal tour and also recommended I add the “chocolate box village” of Chilham. Do take a look at my pictures here:

Were any of your character's personalities based on real life people?
Most unusually, several of the people in this novel are real. An avid reader of all my novels, Arthur Langton, asked to be a character in one of my books, but he didn’t want to be the murderer or the victim. I hope he enjoyed being the young romantic interest. Then I was teaching a class on writing to my daughter-in-law’s students and they asked if they could be in a book. Stav, Nilay, Jack and Sahil turned out to be a great help when I needed a rescue team.

What is the next project you're working on?
Oh, yes— it’s always the vision of the next project that keeps me going. I am anxious to get The Flame Ignites, a Richard and Elizabeth prequel, off to my publisher so I can get on to writing Elizabeth and Richard’s adventures following the Jane Austen trail in London.
Also, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book 4 in the Monastery Murders, will be out in a few weeks and I look forward to writing the next book in that series.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
To read more about all of my books and see pictures from my garden and research trips go to: 
I would love to have you follow me on Facebook at:

Thanks so much for sharing with us!
It was definitely my pleasure! Thank you for the lovely visit.


  1. I so admire this writer! I learned of (and read after) her when I stepped into the writing arena seriously. Her work is excellent and well detailed! Thanks for the interview, Donna!

  2. That's so fun that some of the characters are real people! I love reading books with an Austen-esque theme :)

  3. Caroline and Heidi, what fun to hear from you, and thank you for the interview, Amber! Right now my usband and I are in Dubuque, Iowa, driving to the Jane Austen Society ofNorth America conference in Montreal--it should be an amazing time.

  4. Wow, a prequel, what fun! And Donna, I simply can't imagine anyone better than you to write a Jane Austen encounter. It feels like it was your world even before it was Austen's :) Congrats! Awfully neat to hear when someone doesn't typically read your genre, but loves your rendition of it...

    1. Ha, Jenny! As our two oldest sons once famously remarked, "Mom, you know *everything*! But it's all at least 200 years out of date. Ther is a reason I write history. smile.

  5. Thank you for sharing this great interview!