‘It was high time we compared notes and formed a plan of attack.’
The cover of the very First Lady Darby Mystery convinced me this was a book I would like. I was wrong. I loved it! Set in the early 1800s in England and Scotland, this series features Lady Kiera Darby, who is a portrait painter and widow of a most horrid man. (And that description if him is me being nice.).
Kiera has great skill at not only painting, but sleuthing. She teams up with Sebastian Gage, an inquiry agent, later marries him, and together they work as inquiry agents, solving crimes. It’s a good thing, too, for it seems as if crime follows them.
Anna Lee Huber is remarkable in this series. Her skills at painting vivid descriptions, crafting wonderful characters, along with great plots and leading her reader along as she adds more clues each chapter is just downright awesome. I especially enjoy the way she layers her stories and how she shows us how Kiera’s mind works. These are told in first person, from Kiera’s perspective. She has written ten Lady Darby Mysteries and a novella so far and still manages to make each book powerfully interesting. And, as always, she lets us know in the last few paragraphs that we will be entertained very well indeed in the next offering.
My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via the Net Galley platform. The opinion in this review is my own.
Thanks so much, Anna Lee, for being my guest. We are all anxious to hear your answers to my questions and thanks again for giving away a copy of your book.
- Were you a reader as a child?
Yes, I loved to read as a child. My mother read to us often, and then once I learned to read for myself, I started devouring every book in sight. We would make a trip to the library almost every week to check-out new books. When I got old enough, I would ride there by myself on my bike. One of my favorite Christmas presents I got every year was a gift card to a nearby bookstore.
- When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first “book” when I was in the 4th grade, and the idea of being a writer was always at the back of my mind as something I might like to do. But it sort of came second to my first love of music until about a year after college. I had graduated with BA in Music and was trying to pursue a career in Nashville while also trying to decide whether to go to graduate school or law school or do something else entirely since my music wasn’t paying the bills. It was then that I kind of rediscovered my love for fiction and started dabbling in writing again. Within a few months I realized it was what I wanted to do with my life and began pursuing it in earnest while working other jobs.
- The Lady Darby mysteries are such a favorite of mine. How did the idea for the books come to you?
Thank you! I had been trying to get published for about 5 years when the inspiration for the Lady Darby series came to me. Most of my previous manuscripts had been historical romances, but an element of mystery kept creeping into the plot. So, I decided to switch it up and try my hand at writing a historical mystery with romance as the subplot. However, I knew the idea’s success would hinge entirely on the heroine. There were already several wonderful historical mystery series where the heroine was charming and gregarious and good at getting people to confide in her. But I wanted my protagonist to be the exact opposite – awkward, uncertain, but still highly intelligent. I asked myself, what could a 19th century woman bring to the table in terms of investigative skills if she’s not good at gathering gossip and confessions? It was then that I decided to make her a portrait artist with a keen eye for observation and details, and I also decided she needed some knowledge of anatomy. Both skillsets would be highly rare for a woman of her time, so I had to craft a backstory to explain how and why she accrued that knowledge. That’s when Lady Darby truly came to life.
- I love history and you include a lot of it in these books. How do you research for a book?
It depends. Before I begin a new series, especially if it’s a time period I haven’t written in before, I do a lot of general research about the era, including everything from clothing to food to social customs to public events. I try to ground myself in the era. Then for each book I do additional research on the topics that the plot of that particular book will encompass. I’m also always reading for inspiration for future plots. My favorite sources are memoirs and journals, and my best tip for finding new resources is to check the bibliography at the back of books written on a similar topic. I’ve stumbled across primary resources that were absolutely critical to my books that way.
- How long does it take from the germination of an idea to the book being published?
It varies. Sometimes years pass between inspiration and publication, particularly because I write my series with an eye toward my characters’ overall arcs. I usually have a general idea what a book will be about years before I begin writing it. But I don’t formulate a more detailed outline of what each book will be about until it’s time to write it. I currently write a book in about 4-6 months, so that’s usually the time period between detailed outline and submission to my editor. Then another 9 months to a year passes before it’s actually published. Traditional publishing is definitely a long game.
- What does a writing day look like for you?
Typically, I rise at about 6:20am and get my 2nd grader ready for school and onto the school bus. So I’m usually seated in my office by 7:20 and after doing my devotional I get to work. I start by briefly checking email and social media to find out if there’s anything pressing I need to take care of. Then I consult my schedule for the day and dive in to whatever project I need to complete, whether it’s writing, editing, reviewing copyedits, working on promotional projects, or other administrative tasks. If it’s a writing day I aim for 2-3K words. My husband takes care of our preschooler in the morning and drops her off at school. (We do a lot of dividing and conquering in our household.) Though the 5yo usually pops in and interrupts me a few times throughout the morning. It’s difficult for her to resist. 😊 I work until it’s time to leave to pick her up around 2pm, and then the afternoon is spent on mom-duty, helping with homework, running the girls to dance class, etc. I try to save tasks like creating graphics in Canva or answering mundane emails for downtime during the afternoon when I’m in the carline waiting to pick them up or they’re watching a tv show. I always keep a list of to-dos that can be completed during snatched moments.
- Is it hard to balance writing with family life?
Definitely. I find I have to be very intentional with the way I’m spending my time. When it’s time to work, I have to focus and get my writing done, not let myself be distracted by other things. And when it’s family time, I have to focus on my family and not whatever writing project I’m currently working on. It’s not always easy. There are often hiccups. One of my girls gets sick or school is canceled, and I have to supervise their e-Learning. Or on the flipside, an urgent email comes in I need to answer, or my editor needs a quick turn-around on some edits. Sometimes when I’m deep into writing a book it can be difficult to pull myself out of it. But for the most part I’m able to compartmentalize by reminding myself what my priority is at that moment. Regardless, the struggle is real. 😊
8. You’ve written 10 Lady Darby books and a novella. Do you have a favorite?
I get asked this a lot, and honestly, it’s like trying to choose a favorite child! Utterly impossible. Though, there are books that are special to me for different reasons. The Anatomist’s Wife is obviously cherished because it was my first published book. Mortal Arts is special because for a number of reasons it was particularly difficult to write, so I’m proud I persevered, and it turned out as well as it did. I love the setting of A Brush of Shadows and getting to utilize it as I did. I feel like I could just start rambling off each book in the series and tell you what’s special about it, so I’ll make myself stop there. 😊
7 thoughts on “Review, Author Interview and Giveaway: ‘A Perilous Perspective’ (A Lady Darby Mystery) by Anna Lee Huber”
I love this series, and have recommended it to many patrons at the library where I work! Skarasch at Gmail dot com
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One of my favorite series! Anna Lee Huber has been hosting monthly read alongside that have encouraged me to re-read and enjoy them even more with some insider information from the author along the way! Can’t wait for the next one!
Meganmissman at gmail dot come
This is a fantastic interview with the author of one of my favorite series! I recommend it to so many people.
Great interview. I had no idea Anna Lee was considering a career in Nashville! I have read all of the books in both series and am just about finished A Wicked Conceit. Thank you so much.
Regards – Daria Darnell, ddddfacebook05 at gmail.com