Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogger: ANNA LEE HUBER!

I am delighted to welcome my guest blogger, Anna Lee Huber. She is the author of the The Lady Darby novels, and one lucky reader is going to win a copy of MORTAL ARTS!

Thank you so much for hosting me! For this blog post, I decided to go to my readers, to find out what they wanted to know. What follows are their top five questions.

Q. Both of your Lady Darby novels, The Anatomist’s Wife and Mortal Arts, are set in Scotland 1830. What made you choose that time and place?

A. When I decided to write a historical mystery series with a heroine who has some knowledge of anatomy, I knew 1830 would be the perfect time period. It’s just after the trial of Burke and Hare, two body snatchers-turned-murderers, which plays into the public’s fear of Kiera once news of her involvement with her late husband’s dissections comes to light, and it’s just a few years before the Anatomy Act of 1832. Not to mention all of the other reforms being made with the Catholic Act of 1829, the Reform Act of 1832, the beginnings of the building of railroads, the ramping up of industrialization. It’s a very interesting period. Lots of conflict. I initially chose Scotland because I needed an isolated location, and the Highlands were perfect for my purposes. I stuck with Scotland because it’s a country I love, and it’s the perfect setting for mystery.

Q. Which of your characters have you most enjoyed writing the most?

A. Well, I certainly adore Kiera, Lady Darby and Mr. Gage, her fellow investigator and romantic interest. They’re both complex, mysterious people who don’t give up their secrets easily. I’ve also fallen in love with several of my secondary characters. In The Anatomist’s Wife, it was that rascal Lord Marsdale who wormed his way into my heart. There’s much more to him than meets the eyes, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again at some point in the future. In Mortal Arts, it was William Dalmay, and I think anyone who reads the story will understand why. He’s such a heartbreaking character. 

Q. How much alike are you and Lady Darby?

A. Not much. In many ways I think I’m more like her older sister. But Kiera and I do have several things in common. We both feel a bit like outsiders, never really fitting in. We both feel strongly that people should be accepted for who they are—quirks and all. We are both artists—she is a portrait painter and I’m a writer and musician. And I think her way of looking at the world, of processing her thoughts, is very similar to mine.

Q. I shed more than a few tears reading Mortal Arts. You must deal with a bunch of emotions while writing these stories. How do you deal with that?

A. Writing the emotional scenes can definitely by tough, especially on the days when I just don’t want to go there. And I had to go to some very dark places while writing Mortal Arts. That can be extremely draining, both physically and mentally. When I finish working on one of those scenes, sometimes I have to make myself step away from the computer and do something more cheerful, like taking a walk or playing with my cat. But not always. Sometimes it’s actually cathartic. I write murder mysteries, but really so little time is spent on thinking about the murder. Most of the book is really about the quest for justice, the journey of the characters, their efforts to cast light into a dark place. Each novel in the Lady Darby series is structured around a mystery, but the main thread connecting the books is Kiera, Lady Darby’s journey to accept herself and find happiness. That is what makes dealing with the horrible crimes and darker emotions in the novels worth it.

Q. What books do you think should be mandatory for high schoolers to read? I always like this question because everyone has such different views on "The Classics."

A. I don’t know that I’m really qualified to answer this, or that I have specific suggestions. But I do think high school curriculum should focus more on novels that teenagers actually have the mental and psychological maturity to connect to and fully comprehend. So many classics that I read during school, especially in middle school and early high school, I simply was not old enough or wise enough to truly grasp. When I re-read some of them later as an adult I realized how much depth and richness I had missed. There are adult concepts that teachers can tell their students about, but that doesn’t mean they understand them. The Classics I enjoyed reading, and feel that I had a pretty good grasp of are: several of Shakespeare’s plays, The Scarlet Letter, A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. I also enjoyed The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights, but I don’t think I was able to fully comprehend them as a teenager. I read Les Miserables in college when I was about twenty years old and absolutely loved it. To this day, it’s one of my favorite books. I think teenagers could connect with it as well.

About Anna: Anna Lee Huber is the award-winning author of the Lady Darby historical mystery series. Her debut, The Anatomist’s Wife, has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including two 2013 RITA® Awards and a 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her second novel, Mortal Arts, released September 3rd. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently lives in Indiana, and enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family. Visit her at

About Mortal Arts: Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue-in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn't quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator-and romantic entanglement-Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera's old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother-and Kiera's childhood art tutor-William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor's plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend-and save the marriage of another...

If you’d like to win a copy of MORTAL ARTS, just send an email to, with "Mortal Arts" as the subject. Make sure to include your name and mailing address in the US only. This is a quick contest so your odds of winning are really good - if you enter by September 30, 2013. Good luck!

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