Donna Fletcher Crow’s Suspense With a Historical Twist

Donna Fletcher Crow’s novels of romance, mystery and history include three crime series: Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series; and The Monastery Murders. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have four adult children and 14 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Why did you start writing romantic suspense novels?
Donna: For years I wrote historical novels—some romance and some including a crime—but I began to feel I needed more to keep the pages turning, so since 2010 I have specialized in mysteries, both contemporary and historical. I have kept the romance element because love is such an important aspect of life and it can raise the stakes when life is threatened.

In addition, I love working with contrasts—images of light and dark, good and evil, joy and sorrow—romance and suspense add just those elements to a story.

What’s the hardest part of writing romantic suspense?
Donna: For me the hardest part of any writing is writing the first draft. I love the research phase. Rewriting is such fun—I feel like a potter molding my clay. And polishing under the direction of a good editor is a delight. But, oh, the rough draft can be painful. Romantic suspense has the added challenge of trying to keep things in balance—not to let the romance over-ride the suspense, but rather using it to heighten the tension.

How do you research ways to kill someone for your books?
Donna: I mentioned above that I love research. Because almost all of my books are set in Britain I form all of my plots around places I have been or can manage to explore on my next research trip. I try to let the setting dictate much of the plot—including the murder. It’s an exciting moment for me when I’m standing in some remote, atmospheric location and I realize how the crime was done. Of course, it’s best of all when my research turns up a killing that actually happened there.

What’s the weirdest way someone has died or been killed in your novels?
Donna: An example of an historic killing I discovered in my research was for A Most Singular Venture where I use my experiences speaking at the Queens of Crime Conference at London University. I learned of a dumpster hurtling from a tower under construction and killing a university inspector…

Current book: The Shadow of Reality
A mystery week high in the Rockies—perfect. And with the perfect man. Until murder blurs the lines between reality and fiction.

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