Thursday, April 11, 2013

Settings are one of the most important aspects of a novel to me whether I’m reading or writing. I often choose the novels I read solely on the basis of setting. And sometimes I choose to set my novels in places I want to visit. But then, that’s pretty easy for me because almost all of my novels are set in Great Britain and I don’t think there’s any place there I wouldn’t want to visit.

That’s important because I try never to write about a place I haven’t visited, so that requires a lot of very detailed planning— both for the story and for the travel— since I live 7000 miles away from the scene of most of my stories.

My latest release An Unholy Communion, #3 in The Monastery Murders, has my heroine Felicity helping Antony lead a group of young people over an ancient pilgrimage route in southern Wales from Caerleon to St. David’s. That meant two very distinct research projects.

First, of course, was planning the route my pilgrims would be walking (well, that had already been planned since it was walked by pilgrims in Medieval times, but I had to plot it in modern terms) and then cover the ground myself, taking pictures and notes so my story would feel authentic when Felicity and Antony were there. I was very blessed because my English writer friend Dolores Gordon-Smith, who does the wonderful Jack Haldean mysteries, was my hostess and guide on the adventure. Here are some of my favorites from our photo journal:
St. Non's Well

Roman Fort

Dolores Meditating
Dinner, first night
But that was only half of the challenge. Writing the story of a youth pilgrimage meant I had to know what such an undertaking would look like, how it would be run, how it would feel to trek all those miles with a group of teenagers. So I signed up to be a considerably overage pilgrim on a youthwalk from London to Walsingham in Norfolk. I managed to walk most of the 126 miles, made lovely friends and had an experience I’ll never forget.

Picnic at Royston
And then I got to go home and relive it all at the computer through Felicity’s and Antony’s experiences. Fortunately, mine didn’t include finding any dead bodies or encounters with evil, so I got off easy.

 You can read how it all came together in the novel. See my book trailers and photos from all my research trips. And follow me on Facebook.

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

Come back tomorrow to enter to win a free copy of An Unholy Communion!


  1. Yvonne, thank you for this great opportunity to share with your readers. I'll have to say I enjoyed reading about it all again myself.

  2. Reaching the goal is important, but it's always fun to read about people that also thoroughly enjoy the journey. Nice post, as always.

  3. Abolutely, Lisa. I think I sometimes set the goal just so i can have the fun of the journey.

  4. Enjoyed the blog, Donna. Like yourself, setting in writing and reading is #l consideration. I envy your opportunity to travel to far-away places and become fully immersed in the novel you're writing as there's nothing like that experience to keep you motivated to finish. I'd like to be able to travel more frequently in UK as that's where my stories are set.

  5. Thanks for giving me 2 chances to win a copy of this book!! :)

  6. Sounds a great trip! Ah, I'm jealous!

  7. Thanks for entering, Zippymom!
    Would have loved to have you along, Sheila!


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