I have been following the Lady Darby Mysteries since the first book hit the shelves. We were honored to have a prior guest post by Ms. Huber (click here). Today she shares with us answers to her most often asked reader questions. Please welcome Ms. Anna Lee Huber to our little corner of the Blogosphere.
I asked my readers on social media to interview me, and these are the questions they chose as most popular:
How Lady Darby became your central character, she is so different and unusual (which is why I love her). Where did you find her?
Lady Darby is a bit of a cross between mindful intention and pure subconscious. I started out with the idea that I wanted to write a historical mystery series with a woman as my main protagonist, but I wanted her to be quite different from most of the similar series I already read. I wanted her to be awkward socially, artistic, a tad eccentric, and I thought it would be extremely interesting to give her knowledge of anatomy. Normally it’s the man, if anyone, who has this expertise, so to instead put it in the mind of an early nineteenth century woman I knew would require extraordinary circumstances. That’s how the start of her backstory emerged. I needed to find a way for her to receive anatomical training in as realistic and compelling a way as possible. However, once I had those basic details in hand and I finally sat down to write that first chapter, something kind of magical happened. I’d had this voice clambering inside my head, wanting to tell her story, and once I allowed her that freedom, she just sprang to life. It’s almost as if she lives in a separate place in my subconscious. I can feel the nerve pathways that will let me tap into her voice, where she sits quietly waiting to take her turn at the page again.
Why Scotland? It is a country that I love but I'm curious why you chose that location. Also, was writing about Ireland in book 5 challenging?
I simply adore Scotland! So that was the start. And I needed an isolated locale for Book 1, so the Highlands. And, well, it kind of just took over from there. Ireland was definitely more of a challenge to write simply because I'd done so much less research about it before I started, and I've never visited. Also, the history is fascinating but very complex in this time period. I wanted to get it right, but also not write a history paper. Nobody likes "info dumps", as writers call them. It's tricky to weave in just the right amount of history without sounding like a textbook at times.
The challenges (and how you deal with them) of writing about a place and time period that you don't live in! How do you get that "real feel" and blend accuracy with the story?
I think it starts with research. Before I delve into any time period I do an intense amount of research trying to understand the era, and not just the facts—dates, and people, and major events. I want to understand what the general mindset of the people are, how they speak and interact with one another, what is considered normal and what is beyond the pale. However, at some point you have to step away from the texts and begin to write, and for me the trick is to become truly locked inside the mind of my narrator. Since I write predominately in the first person, my stories are colored by the thoughts of my narrator. I see things through her eyes, expressing her opinions, noticing the items that interest her. If I can make the reader believe that they are listening to the narrator and not me, then I’ve gone a long way to achieving realness and authenticity. It’s definitely harder to write about places I’ve never actually been, but pictures, videos, and Google Earth help tremendously. Language can also trip me up. It’s not always easy
to find the etymology of a word or phrase, and sometimes the way they would have truly spoken would baffle modern readers. There’s a fine balance.
Do you ever get tired of any of the characters?
Hmmm. I think because I delve so deeply into their psychologies, I always have some sympathy for all my characters. I see something I like about all of them. Even the villains. So I haven't gotten tired of anyone yet, or killed anyone off because of it.
I’ve read many murder mystery series with a sleuthing couple at the helm. What I like about your series is that Keira seems to be more private than the other heroines, while Gage is the more outgoing personality. What made you pick this dynamic?
I've noticed the very same thing, so I purposely wanted to switch it up. I wanted to make the characters different from other sleuthing pairs and see what evolved of that.
Can you believe you are on book five!? Do you have an end game, which I hope isn't for a long while!!
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Didn't I just start writing these? No end game in sight yet...
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THANK You Ms. Huber for sharing this interview.
2 cups crumbled brownies
5 cups rice krispies
1-10 oz. package mini marshmallow
3 tablespoons butter
*I use the microwave method, but the stovetop method would work just fine.
Melt butter and marshmallows in the microwave for about three minutes, stirring at a minute and a half. When marshmallows are good and melted, add the rice krispies and crumbled brownies. Mix well until all is completely combined.
Pour mixture into a well greased, or wax paper lined pan. (size is up to you, depending on how thick you want them - I used 13"x9").
Allow to cool and set for at least one hour. Can be placed in the refrigerator to speed the cooling process. Turn over onto a cutting board and cut into squares.