An Interview and a Giveaway with Anna Lee Huber

Happy Monday, one and all. I hope you’ve had a lovely, restful and WARM weekend. Today, I’m excited to announce that we have another guest visiting with us – Anna Lee Huber, author of the Lady Darby mystery series.

anna huberanatomist

I found out about this series in 2012 when notices about it started popping up on GoodReads.  I bought the first book, The Anatomist’s Wife, for my mother for Christmas, and once she read it, she passed it along to me.  I really enjoyed it – you know I adore a good historical mystery, and this one has a really unique premise.  This is a great series for fellow Pink fans!  Two months ago, Anna participated in a panel with Lauren (along with Tasha Alexander and Susan Elia MacNeal) at the Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor discussing the Art of Historical Romantic Suspense.  I wish I could have been there!  But as sad as I am to have missed out, I’m thrilled to have Anna here with us today to answer a few questions about herself and her writing.  Let’s get to it!

Anna, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

How about cataloguing historical information and interesting tidbits (including ghost stories) about castles and manor houses in the UK? My husband thinks it’s bizarre that I would want to do that in my spare time, but I find it fascinating. I keep thinking someday there might be a nonfiction book to be created from all this detritus. We’ll see. I’m also slightly crazed about maps and atlases, which includes plotting the coordinates of those castles and manor houses. This all sounds so horribly nerdy, but that’s me. I chalk it up to the analytical bent of my mind.

What are five of your favorite things?

Snickerdoodles, Inception, Les Miserables (the book or the musical), Winnie the Pooh, the sound of the ocean crashing against a rocky shore

If you stopped writing books (please don’t), what would you do for a living?

Well, my bachelor’s degree is in Music, so probably something to do with that. I almost landed a job at a record company in Nashville straight out of college. I went through three rounds of interviews and wound up being the runner-up. Every once in a while I wonder how different my life would be if I had gotten that position. I also toyed with the idea of going to law school, and later graduate school to study Speech and Language Pathology. I even took the LSAT and GRE. But, honestly, now I can’t imagine doing anything else but writing.

If I took a sneak peek into your writing space, what would I find?

Lately, I write wherever I can with my 8-month-old daughter. But my office is a small bedroom painted a pale shade of jade green. One wall is covered in two large maps—one of Scotland and the other of England-Wales. I have 6 bookshelves covered in books and assorted picture frames, awards, and knick-knacks that mean something to me, as well as Precious Moments figurines because I still haven’t bought a curio cabinet to store them in. My cork board above my desk is tacked with reminder post-its (such as “affect is a verb, effect is a noun”) and more random knick-knacks. I have an abstract painting of a sunset I created hanging behind my desk. I say “abstract” because I’m not very skilled. I also have two large black-and-white photographs of trees in winter. I love pictures like that.

What was your inspiration for Kiera Darby?

This question is always difficult for me to answer because she started out as a completely conscious creation. I knew I wanted to try my hand at writing a historical mystery series with a female protagonist set sometime during the 19th century. I wanted her to have genuine skills to bring to a murder investigation, and I decided one of those would be knowledge of anatomy, which was almost completely unheard of for a woman at that time. As I delved into creating her backstory in order to provide her that education in a believable way, she began to come to life. And when I allowed her to open her mouth and start talking as I began to write, her words just seemed to pour out of me. It was almost as if she’d been there hiding in my subconscious all along.

How important are the names of the characters in your books?

Names are extremely important to me. I cannot write a character if I don’t have their name right. I will fiddle and tweak until I’m satisfied. Otherwise, they simply don’t feel real enough to me. Sometimes I choose the name because of the way it sounds or the meaning, but above all it has to feel true to the character, as odd as that might sound. I have charts and a notebook filled with names that I’ve stumbled across in all sorts of places. I always refer to this first when attempting to name a character. Sometimes it’s easy. I wrote the name Gage in my notebook years ago, knowing someday I would use it for a hero. And when Kiera’s love interest walked onto the page in The Anatomist’s Wife I instantly knew that this was Mr. Gage. But coming up with his first name was definitely harder. I can’t tell you how many different names I tried before settling on Sebastian.

What is an interesting fact or subject you’ve come across in your research that you haven’t yet included in your books?

There are a number of secret tunnels running between different castles, buildings and landmarks in Scotland, whether for escape, smuggling, or conducting midnight trysts. I would love to craft a story around one of these hidden passages sometime.

What are you working on now?

I recently finished A Study in Death, Lady Darby Book 4, which releases July 7th, 2015. Phew! It’s the first book I’ve written since my daughter was born, and it was a struggle. Now I’m finishing up a stand-alone book I’ve been working on in bits and pieces for a couple of years now. It’s more of a traditional Gothic along the lines of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart.

If readers would like to learn more about you and your work, how would they do that?

My website: www.annaleehuber.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnaLeeHuber

Twitter: @AnnaLeeHuber

I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to read a book about those Scottish tunnels between castles that Anna describes. I also think that a book in the style of Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart is right up my alley. Because she is a lovely person, Anna has offered to give away a signed copy of the first book in her Lady Darby series, The Anatomist’s Wife, to a lucky reader of today’s interview. To enter yourself for this giveaway, just leave a comment below. You have until midnight EST on November 20 to enter. I will announce the winner on Friday.

Want to earn extra entries for this giveaway? You can enter up to three times. Here’s how:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Follow the blog! If you are already a follower, just mention that in your comment. There are links in the top right corner of this page to become a follower.
  3. Post a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Again, you can just let me know in your comment that you’ve done this. I trust you.

On Friday, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. Good luck! And thanks again, Anna, for spending some time with us today.

Cover Reveal: A Study in Death

I am thrilled to participate today in the Cover Reveal for Anna Lee Huber’s next release in the Lady Darby mystery series. There are three books currently available in the series – check out the covers so far:

anatomist mortal art grave

 

And today, I can officially share the cover for Book IV, A Study in Death. Et voilà:

Study in Death

Spooky, no?

A Study in Death is the latest installment in the award-winning Lady Darby mystery series by national bestselling author Anna Lee Huber. It will release on July 7th, 2015 from Berkley Publishing, but is available for preorder now.  Here is what Berkley has to say about Lady Darby IV:

Scotland, 1831. After a tumultuous courtship complicated by three deadly inquiries, Lady Kiera Darby is thrilled to have found both an investigative partner and a fiancé in Sebastian Gage. But with her well-meaning—and very pregnant—sister planning on making their wedding the event of the season, Kiera could use a respite from the impending madness.

Commissioned to paint the portrait of Lady Drummond, Kiera is saddened when she recognizes the pain in the baroness’s eyes. Lord Drummond is a brute, and his brusque treatment of his wife forces Kiera to think of the torment caused by her own late husband.

Kiera isn’t sure how to help, but when she finds Lady Drummond prostrate on the floor, things take a fatal turn. The physician called to the house and Lord Drummond appear satisfied to rule her death natural, but Kiera is convinced that poison is the real culprit.

Now, armed only with her knowledge of the macabre and her convictions, Kiera intends to discover the truth behind the baroness’s death—no matter what, or who, stands in her way…

To celebrate the unveiling of the cover of A STUDY IN DEATH, Lady Darby Book 4, Anna Lee Huber is running a giveaway on her Facebook page. Entrants must comment under her post displaying the cover of A Study in Death for a chance to win a copy of the audiobooks of Lady Darby Books 1-3 (The Anatomist’s Wife, Mortal Arts, and A Grave Matter). Please see the Facebook post for Giveaway Terms and Conditions.

Top Five Friday: Historical Mystery Series

In the spirit of gearing up for Pink for All Seasons, I have been thinking a lot lately about my favorite historical mystery series. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that historical mysteries were a thing – but now, they make up a surprising percentage of my reading! So for today’s Top Five Friday, here are my favorite historical mystery series. You’ll never guess which series is number one…

 

 pink carnation 1. Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series. I’ve talked endlessly about this series, so for now I won’t reiterate all the reasons why the books are great. If you haven’t tried this series yet, make sure to drop by in September, when we’ll start reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.
 vienna 2. Tracy Grant’s Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch series. The series begins with Vienna Waltz, and I have to tell you, I was hooked absolutely from the first line. I tore through that book and have snapped up each installment in the series as it was published. The first book is set in Vienna in 1814, just after Napoleon’s defeat, when major players from the dominant European countries are getting together to determine the fate of the Continent. It’s a fascinating time historically, so Tracy’s first murder mystery has an excellent backdrop. Suzanne and Malcolm are really wonderful, complex characters, and Tracy just keeps making them more interesting with each book.
 silent 3. Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia series. How can you not love a story that begins like this: “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” The first book, Silent in the Grave, introduces us to Lady Julia Gray, a Victorian aristocrat whose eccentric family and unconventional interests make for really interesting reading.
 anatomist 4. Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series. This series caught my eye because I thought the premise for the first book was really unique. Kiera Darby is a widow whose ghastly late husband forced her to use her considerable artistic talent to illustrate his cadaver dissections for an anatomy textbook. After his death, she is considered a freak (or something even more sinister) by most of society, and she gets caught up in a murder investigation when her knowledge of human anatomy comes in handy. The first book is The Anatomist’s Wife, and there are now three books in the series.
 blue death 5. Charles Finch’s Lenox series. Finch’s books are set in Victorian London (no pattern to see here, folks), and they revolve around a private detective named Charles Lenox. In the first book, A Beautiful Blue Death, Lenox investigates a maid’s death in the household of his lifelong friend Lady Jane. The maid appears to have committed suicide, but Lenox discovers that the poison that killed her was rare and expensive – not something the maid would have easy access to. As Lenox tries to uncover a motive for murder, another dead body turns up in a ballroom at the height of the Season. This series is possibly “cozier” than the others (Finch describes Lenox as “an armchair explorer who likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book”), but it is still a great one.

 

I have to also give an honorable mention to C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series – I’ve read several of these as well, and they are excellent. C.S. Harris is particularly good if you’re looking for fewer ballrooms and more fistfights with Bow Street runners.

I know that this list is skewed towards female protagonists and stories set in Britain. Am I missing out on a great historical mystery series? If you’ve got a favorite that you don’t see listed, let me know!