ALH Anna Lee Huber

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What's New & Next Blog Hop
May 19, 2014

Much thanks to Tessa Arlen for inviting me to take part in a blog tour/hop! I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Tessa’s debut novel, Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, which releases in January 2015, and fell in love with her two heroines—Lady Montfort and her housekeeper Mrs. Jackson. I was thrilled to endorse it, and here’s what I had to say – “Thoroughly enchanting. Arlen’s debut will appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, with its vivid descriptions, firm grip on the intricacies of the time period, and skilled portrayal of the often complicated relationship between upstairs and downstairs.” Be sure to mark your calendars.

And now without further ado:

What are you working on?

A Grave Matter, Lady Darby Book 3, will release on July 1st, and I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Advanced Reading Copies. (Stay tuned – I’ll be running a contest soon to win one of these puppies.) But on the writing front, I’m actually knee-deep in two projects. The first is Lady Darby Book 4. Without giving away too much of the plot in Book 3, I can tell you the novel takes place in Edinburgh in March 1831. Alana’s confinement is entering its final month, Philip is consumed with politics, Gage is continuing to investigate matters big and small, and Kiera has begun taking on portrait commissions. However, her latest, the lovely Lady Drummond has become personal. She’s troubled over the state of the countess’s marriage. So when Lady Drummond winds up dead and her husband rushes forward the proceedings, making sure the cause of death is attributed to an apoplexy, Kiera becomes determined to investigate, with or without Gage’s assistance.

The second project I’m working on is a Gothic suspense, in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. It takes place among the broads and fens of Norfolk, England during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars. There are tales or suspicious creatures that roam the broads on foggy nights, luring unwitting victims to their doom. But Ella doesn’t believe them, until she comes face to face with one while taking medicine to a sick friend. She manages to escape, but quickly discovers that first encounter is only the beginning.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

I think the main difference between my writing and that of others who write historical romantic suspense is my heroine. Kiera, Lady Darby is far from society’s darling. She is awkward and uncomfortable, and annoyed by the gossip and frivolity of the upper class. She would much rather spend time in her portrait studio, or enjoy an intimate dinner with her family and a few close friends. The ladies of society might not willingly confide in her, but there’s little they can hide from her artist’s eye.

There are also many who believe she is scandalous and unnatural because her late husband, a great anatomist forced her to sketch his dissections for an anatomy textbook he was writing. However, that same enforced tutelage that so traumatized her and tarnished her reputation also gave her a unique set of skills which enables her to assist in inquiries into murder.

However, I believe Kiera’s greatest strength as a protagonist is how much the reader can relate to her. Who hasn’t felt like the outsider? Or felt misunderstood? Or both longed for and feared a better life? She seems like a real person, not some infallible superwoman. As one reader put it, “she is extraordinary in an ordinary way.” Something we can all aspire to.

Why do you write what you do?

Simply – I write what I love. History, mystery, romance, suspense, Gothic settings, brooding atmospheres – those are all of the elements of a story that peak my interest, so it’s only natural that I would write them. My heroines tend to be talented and capable, but also misunderstood underdogs, because those are the types of characters who appeal to me. They are the type of people I want to root for. They also tend to be searching for their own special brand of happiness, because I believe that’s important. Not everyone needs to follow the same route.

How does your writing process work?

The only truth about my writing process is that it’s constantly evolving. I tend to be a planner, though I don’t like to get down to the nitty gritty. I find that stifles my creativity. Generally, when an idea sparks my interest, I let my imagination run with it for a time. I write twenty to fifty pages at my own whim, and then if I haven’t lost interest I sit down to plot it out in general sweeping lines. I know what most of the scenes will be and all the pertinent details, but I go no further, preferring to leave my creativity room to play.

Somewhere in the midst of all that I also do my research. Sometimes it happens before I write a single word, and sometimes it occurs after the whimsy stage before I plot. I also do spot research as I write to catch more detailed information I hadn’t realized I would need.

Once the plotting is done, I write my first draft, trying to keep myself from doing too much editing until it’s finished. The intensive editing happens in the second and sometimes third draft. I give it a final polish and then send it off to my editor or agent.

 
Now let me pass the baton
to Rebecca Henderson Palmer. She is an author, reviewer, and blogger living in central OH with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on a two-book series set in the earliest days of the Tudor dynasty and featuring Lady Margaret Beaufort. You can find her on FB, Twitter (@RebeccaJPalmer1), and online at www.rhendersonpalmer.com.



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