LIVING THE STORY
Posted March 27, 2012on:
I am honored today with a guest appearance by my friend and fabulous writer, Donna Fletcher Crow. I appreciate Donna’s sweet spirit as well as her amazing, prolific output–over 35 books authored so far. She’s my real-life heroine! And the heroine of my ACFW writers group, Idahope Writers, which recently honored her with our “Writer of the Year Award.” Yay, Donna! Here’s her story of “Living the Story.”
“Show, don’t Tell,” writers are always advised. And sound advice that is, too. But before I can show a story, I find that I must live it first. Excepting the murder bits, you understand.
That’s what’s behind my current Monastery Murders series. After publishing thirty-some novels, mostly dealing with British Christian history, I thought I’d change tack and write a nonfiction book. Still telling stories, you understand, but in a more direct genre.
So I set out on pilgrimage to experience my stories first hand. And experience them, I did.
In the fall of 2001 I took one of the first planes to leave Boise after 9/11 to visit 17 ancient holy sites in England and Scotland. And, yes, it was the incredible experience it sounds. (If you’re interested, my journal is here: http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/sacredPlacesJournal.php)
And, of course, I thought the ensuing book The Holy Longing for Sacred Places was equally awesome. As did my loyal and energetic agent. But, alas, no editor could be convinced of its brilliance.
But I still wanted to tell those stories. And so The Monastery Murders series was born. If I couldn’t tell about my experiences visiting those mystical places, I could tell about Antony and Felicity scrambling over broken ancient arches and slogging through bogs that defeated Cromwell’s destructors. All I really had to do was add a murdered body to the landscape here and there.
Well, of course that’s a simplified version. Madeline L’Engle says that when our stories change over time it isn’t because we’re trying to falsify, but because we’re trying to get closer to the truth— to the real meaning behind the action. And so I’ve found it as I’ve struggled to distill my own experiences through my fictional stories.
A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders 1, tells the story of St. Cuthbert whose venues I visited on the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, in an echoing cave off the coast of Scotland, in Chester-le-Street and in Durham. And along the way we visit St. Hilda in Whitby, St. Ninian in Whithorn and The Venerable Bede in his monastery in Jarrow. Not a bad return on my pilgrimage investment and a great romp for Felicity and Antony who accomplish it all while chasing and being chased by murderers.
A Darkly Hidden Truth, The Monastery Murders 2, focuses more sharply on a particularly wet corner of England known as the Norfolk Broads and the work of two amazing medieval holy women who both accomplished firsts in the world of literature: Julian of Norwich the first woman to write a book in English and Margery Kempe who wrote the first autobiography in English— although she was illiterate. A little curtailing of the action seemed appropriate because, after all, Felicity has decided to become a nun.
But then a dear friend turns up murdered— literally under her feet. And the action takes her to London to explore the nefarious doings of the Knights of Malta and. . . Well, I’ll leave the rest of it for you to read in the book.
To view trailers for A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, see pictures from my research trips and visit my rose garden, as well as to order my books, go to: http://www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.