Anna Lee Huber discusses A Fatal Illusion. (2023)


Anna Lee Huber in conversation with John Charles. Huber discusses her latest mystery, A Fatal Illusion.


Yeah you're alive hello and welcome to the virtual watch of Anna Lee Huber's latest book of fatal illusion, I'm, Sean, Charles and the poison pen is delighted to have with us one of our favorite historical, mystery writers to celebrate the latest in her popular series before we begin today, we'd like to let those listening in know that the poison pen does have copies of a fatal illusion, as well as all of Anna's previous books, and we would be happy to hold one or more for you or put them in the meal.

Just give us a call or go online to the poison in bookstore and now I'd like to welcome one of my favorite historical writers, Anna Lee Huber.

Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you for joining us again.

My first question, for you will be a familiar one, but I know readers often like to hear it they want to know about who Anna was before you became a published author.

I know, I'm fascinated by how someone with a background in music, who wanted to be a rock star, ended up writing Mysteries.

How did that Journey evolve? Yeah? So when I was a kid, I loved books and I actually started writing when I was I, think it was about third grade.

Fourth grade and I.

Just I was writing my own little stories.

My only I had my own little um mystery solving group like Nancy Drew, and all that that I would just I love to write and then I got to um junior high high school and I kind of fell by the wayside, because I was busy with everything else and music is my other big love and that kind of took center stage and I decided to go to college for music.

Um I wanted to be a performer um, so I majored in music got out of college and realized wow I'm trained to be an opera singer, but I don't really want to be an opera singer.

I was living in Nashville at the time, so I was trying to make it still as a as a performer um.

It's a tough business.

I'll tell you and I kept like always getting like the runner-up for stuff and um.

I was working as an administrative assistant for an insurance company, while I was trying trying to perform and I rediscovered my love of reading.

That was because I was finally able to read what I wanted to read, not what the college classes had assigned and I just realized.

Oh man, I remember when I used to write and so I started writing again, just on a whim just just for fun and I.

Just I got the bug and I realized.

Oh what this is really really want to do, um and it just fit the lifestyle I wanted.

Also because, if you are a performer, I was starting to realize.

I was probably going to be a background singer and those kind of things, and so I was going to be traveling on the road all the time, and you know if I had a family when was I going to see them, and so I thought you know, being a writer was much more appealing for the life I wanted to leave.

So a backup singer, not background singer, sorry, um and so I started pursuing writing and that's you know.

It took me seven years to get my first book published I had a learning curve because I didn't major in writing.

I, you know so.

I had to figure all that out, but um I love it and I'm.

Just so glad that I get to do it and um it's been a real blessing.

So it's kind of nice there's a sense of synchronicity I guess is the word I'm looking for that.

Your first published book was the unanimous.

Why which introduced us to Lady Kira Darby? What can you tell us about her and her partner in detection? Sure so Kira has a bit of a um before the series begins when the series begins she's pretty much at one of her blackest known as the blackest moment of her life.

Her first husband was not a nice guy um.

She is has accrued this kind of reluctant knowledge of anatomy because he was a famous anatomist and he forced her to help him she's a portrait artist very gifted and the first book in the series she is kind of hiding away.

Just you know licking her wounds.

You know trying to figure out what to do with her life and her sister is trying to push her back out there and a body is killed and a woman is killed and she is asked to help Sebastian Gage, who is a gentleman inquiry agent and a friend of her brother-in-law's and they kind of team up reluctantly at first to solve this first mystery: that's in the anatomous wife, this first murder um and then they kind of end up.

They continue to team up and a romance develops, and and all of that, and so by book- 11, it's no surprise.

They're married, they have their first child and they're still involved in all of these murder mysteries.

We kind of always knew from the beginning that she wanted that romantic thread to the um series.

Didn't you yes, I I love, I love a bit of romance with my mystery I just feel like it's such a natural fit um, because you know the mysteries of the heart are just the most intriguing, and so you know they just kind of fit together and I, love, history and so weaving.

All those three elements is just my jam: I mean it's.

What I love to read? Also so um yeah, so it was a natural fit for me, that's great! What can you tell us about your latest now a fatal illusion, because you kind of hinted at it in the book before at the very end, so readers knew a little bit about what was coming yeah.

So in a perilous perspective, if you've read it um you get to the ending and Gage receives this letter from his father's villette and his uh father has been attacked on the road, the great North Road coming to Edinburgh, to see them and there's you know it's just he just discovers.

The attack has no idea whether he survived it's as many days later so they're racing to be to get to his father to find out.

You know to to get to him before he dies because that's the concern they don't know.

What's going to happen, um there's a lot of strain in that relationship because of some things that Lord Gage has done and in particular um.

He has a second son that was concealed from Sebastian and Sebastian, meets his brother Henry and and discovers that he's his half-brother I think in a stroke of well a stroke of mouse we find out, and he finds out in a wicked conceit um that they're brothers.

So there's this strain, definitely in the relationship of of all of that and the secrets that his father's been keeping and his father's, not the easiest man to get along with to begin with kind of one of those characters.

You love to hate um, and so they race to racing to Yorkshire where he was attacked um and they do arrive at the beginning and I will say this and he has survived.

But he's not.

You know on necessarily on a smooth road to recovery.

He has a ways to go: he's, obviously not the kindest and in the best of moods, because he has been injured and he's confined to a bad and he's trapped.

He can't escape their questions um.

So there's a lot of still that contention and also you know who attacked him and why and are they finished or are they going to make it another attempt um? So there's a lot of little different Mysteries to to figure out.

You know and it weaves around this relationship of author also the Fathers and Sons um.

Will they ever reconcile.

So one of the things that you do um brilliantly with each of the books in the series, is how you pick certain historical, real historical backs, topics and kind of use them as a springboard for your own plot and without I'm.

We don't want to spoil things for people that haven't read the book, but a few, can you talk a little bit about a few of the things that I found? Fascinating first would be the great North Road, because I've always read about that I thought.

You know people getting on coaches and racing across England, that was their main I guess: Transportation, Route, absolutely yeah.

So the great North Road went from London to Edinburgh um and it was.

It was the main transportation route before the train and trains really steam engines.

So this is basically the last era, the last Great era of the great North Road, because steam engines took over in the 40s 50s and that's when that's the way people started to travel but before so.

This is the last 10 to 20 years of the real um height of the great North Road um, and there's a lot of really interesting, fascinating stuff about it.

Um I ended up picking, wet Bridge because it's an area where it was the only spot where the the road the road goes over.

The river went for many many miles so um, but it went down into the Steep Gorge and they had to re like they actually redid the road and blasted out the Limestone to make a better path through.

But it was still this deep gorge and there's all these Tales of people talking about having to get out and walk beside the carriage and all these things, and it's just a very interesting little village and there's these pubs there, which are fascinating, but there's also, this kind of folklore that grows grows up around these.

These toll roads, because you know people would stay in these Inns and there's these tales about.

You know bone pits and like people just disappearing and like um, you know kind of Gothic tales that that were like kind of almost Penny dreadfuls of the time so um you can find these and read them, and some of them are just so completely ridiculous, but they were just they're just fun to read it now.

But at that time people would, you know, maybe believe them, because you know they they didn't know any better.

So that's true and um, in addition to those kind of um urban legends at the time, and things like that, you also kind of bring in another semi-historical figure, um kind of a version of Robin Hood.

Yes, so when I was just when I was researching the area once I settled on this went Bridge area I discovered that it was the original area called the medieval veil of barnsdale and that's where historically, the original, the first um ballads about Robin Hood, sat where he lived.

It wasn't Nottingham, it wasn't Sherwood Forest it was this medieval veil of barnsdale and I thought.

Oh, how interesting and there's all these different areas around there even to this day that you can stop and see this well that supposedly Robinson well Robin, Hood's well and there's a church of Mary, Magdalene and cam Saul I think this.

The town came yeah anyway, uh, where he supposedly married um made Marion and all these different things, and so I thought I'm totally going to weave this in in some way um because it just it it fit.


The fact I was using High women, and so it was just kind of kind of all worked out been dead yeah and in addition to that, you have the broader kind of um historical political perspective in terms of the drama going on, and then it's escaping.

But something about a massacre, um yeah, so the Grange more Rising was part of this bigger Rising.

That actually happened about 10 minutes.

10 minutes excuse me 10 years earlier, but it really affected this area.

It was around.

You know when the economic depression around Peter Lou the Peter Liu Massacre.

That happened in 1819 and all of that- and this was people that they just they were Weavers.

They were kind of middle class or lower middle class.

They had good jobs, but they were losing them because of the economy and because of the Industrial Revolution and all these different factors and they were trying to get the government to help them out in a peaceful way.

And then the government started actually oppressing them.

Like you could read about these things, they were doing the laws they were passing, so they started to become more violent and the Grange more Rising was part of that, and it was really fascinating, because I had never I'd heard of Peter, Liu and heard of the massacre, but most people you know, have no idea about the the underlying political unrest and the fact that the government was sending in um kind of undercover agents buying on these people, and so it was it's just really kind of a fascinating.

You know unsung moment that most people don't know about, and so I really enjoyed researching it.

It's almost like the precursor to what um they tried to do to best up the unions around the turn of the 20th century, when they would send policemen in and kind of, try to infiltrate the groups and things.

So history does repeat itself.

Definitely um.

Let's talk about your protagonist Cura, because when you were creating her you, you made some very smart choices: um when you're doing historical sleuths, you have to give them a skill set that makes sense for them to become involved in crimes, whether it's murder or theft, whatever it.

You can't just have lady, what's her whatever her name is long-solving murders if she doesn't have something that makes it seem real to the readers as to.

Why she's doing that, and you need to take that because you did I think two at least two things that I'm aware of with Kira one.

You gave her that knowledge of medicine because she had to help her late husband with his Anatomy textbook, so that that gives her some insight into that kind of we'll call it crime scene analysis.

Yes, yeah I do you're absolutely right.

That was a deliberate choice, because I had also decided.

I didn't want her to be this, like society's darling.

That I felt like there were some really well-written um historical mysteries that already had um female protagonists that were very charming and they were good at getting information from people.

In that way, um and I was like you know: I really I kind of want to flip.

It I want the the hero to be that way, but the heroine to not be to be awkward and uncertain- and you know, say the wrong thing and all those kind of things and so I thought.

Well what could she bring to an investigation? Why are they going to let a gentlewoman look at a dead body and I was like well what about the medicine and so I had to figure out a creative way for her to have that knowledge that she could bring to the investigation, and you know it kind of becomes this theme also where she has to learn to accept the fact that she's learned all this information that it's okay, that she has, that it's a good thing that she has and she can really use it to help Society so yeah, and then you did something else that did not hit me at first and that's because I'm not always the most perceptive of readers, but it was actually really subtle and clever.

You made her an artist and in particular a portrait.

Artist and I, never really thought about it, but when artists are doing someone's portrait, they really have to almost do a psychological profile of them.

Yes, yes, yeah um, so I think that's somewhat where my music comes in um, because it's such an it's an art, and so it makes me think of things in a different way and also you know you know: I I have some art training.

Also and I know you know when an artist is working.

You know really a lot of it.

I think I want to say it's like 80 is seeing what seeing the object for what it really is, and the lines and the shadows and all those kind of things, because if you're not seeing it, you can't capture it and so I thought wow what a powerful! You know what a powerful observation skill to be, that portrait artist to have those skills to see those things, and so then she would see the things in people's eyes to be able to capture that on a canvas and she'd, wonder and and she'd catched clues that maybe other people would not- and you know it plays into that Anatomy also because she has to understand the anatomy to be able to draw a person and what is she expecting to see there? That's not there um, so the kind of kind of clue her into how they were killed or whatever so yeah.

No, that was very, very nicely done.

Um for those that are new to your books.

Um Sebastian Gage is a gentleman inquiry agent um.

Can you expand a little bit about because I people know probably about the both Street Runners and things like that? But how exactly does that fit into detection in English sure so? Prior, so in 1829 is the first time we had a police force in London as the first time, any kind of uniform police force is established before that it was the Bow Street Runners were the ones who were doing the detecting and even after that, they're the ones that were doing the detecting, because the police were supposed to prevent crime they weren't supposed to solve crimes.

After the fact it wasn't for another decade or two that they actually established a um investigation Force for crimes that had already happened.

So in this era you know if, if something went wrong, if something was stolen or somebody was murdered, you could hire the Bow Street Runners, but they were kind of low class and kind of rough and they were prone to being um.

You know some of them would take bribes because that's how they earned their income, I mean it was you paid them a tip, basically for doing something for you.

So these gentlemen inquiry agents were were men that were of a better class.

They were, usually, gentlemen or, or you know at least upper middle class and educated um.

They were hired or they were just friends of whoever it happened to, and they just happened to be good at investigating and solving crimes and using what they knew um.

So there were kind of fascinating um figures and and I Lord Gage is the original inquiry agent gentleman in Korean in the family um.

That's how Gage Sebastian gets brought into the family business basically and Lord Gage gets into it because he happened.

He was a captain in the Royal Navy.

He made his fortune from um prizes.

You know the prize ships when they would take.

You know the Napoleonic Wars and that when they were captured a ship, they were getting a certain prize amount um, and so he made his fortune that way and he had good.

He made friends with um.

He was on the ship with William IV, who is now the king in the 1830s early 1830s um.

He was not supposed to ever be the king, because George IV was supposed to just have an heir, and you know he would just be another Prince, so he was in the Royal Navy and he actually served on a ship with word Gage, and so because he has that connection to the king uh now the king but um, and he has a connection to all these other Nobles, and so then he helps them out and then they help him out and it's this kind of whole relationship um, which you know can get tricky now because uh his son Sebastian, isn't so happy to be in the pockets of everybody.

That's true, um! That's um shift a little bit and talk about the setting the historical setting for the book, because you picked kind of an interesting slot.

There's a lot of series that the Regency Era both historical fiction, historical mysteries, romances.

Then there's a lot, especially now that have gone into the Victorian era, but you're kind of in between.

So how does that fit into the timeline? And what? Why did you say? That's the period that I want to choose.

Yeah I mean I one of the reasons I chose.

It was exactly that reason.

There's a lot of Regency there's a lot of Victorian, but there's really this seven year reign of of William IV that, like I hadn't, been reading anything and I.

It felt like there was this pocket of time where people were not exploring and once I started to look into it.

I discovered how much really interesting history happens.

Then there's a lot of reforms that occur, especially political reforms.

There's the Reform Act that changes the way that you know the the different um areas are drawn, so there's no more pocket Burrows and all these kind of things that were corrupt in the government, um there's the Catholic, Reform Act, and then the anatomy act and there's a ton there's just like 10 um that occur within this.

You know just few years um, and so it was not getting explored and also with that Anatomy act, part.

It's the end of the era of the Body Snatchers and once I decided to give Kira that medical knowledge and that background with her husband, the anatomist and the fact that he worked with Body Snatchers, because all anatomists and doctors and medical schools worked with Body Snatchers because they were a necessary evil.

Because of the way the system was set up, which was why they needed the anatomy act um.

So it's that end of the era and that Birkin hair, the murderers turned bodies, the turn Body Snatchers that were so horrible in Edinburgh that everybody panicked and it was such a scandal.

So it was just all of that kind of rolled together was just I realized.

This was the perfect era to set the series um I, just can't even imagine it being set during another era, because it just wouldn't work.

So it was just kind of the Perfect Blend and she had recently written an article for writers, um magazine and one of the things that you put in that article once again is so you and so um perfectly encapsulated.

You said you need.

As a writer, you need to find the rhythm of your historical period, I'm thinking, okay, that she was a musician kind of, but what does that mean yeah? So when I am doing my research when I'm trying to write in a certain era, I talk about this a lot because I do write two series: one is the 1830s one: is the 1919 into the 1920s and there's only 90 years different.

But when you read the first-hand documents from that era, the letters and the Memoirs and all those kind of things, you can feel that there's this different um Rhythm of the language and the way they spoke and the slang and um.

So when I'm writing I have to feel it like.

I know that I'm writing in the right heroine's head.

If I can feel that I'm riding in the right rhythm of that era and the intonation and the way they formed their sentences and all those kind of things I'm, and it is the Music musician absolutely coming out in me that I think of it in those terms.

But that's the only way I can can describe it um, because to me it's hearing that in my head and just the feel of it and all that um, you know the 1830s or formal and fluid, and we got the 1920s you're going into the Jazz, and you can hear that in the way that they spoke and so um I just try to encapsulate that in my writing and I think you can really bring that into any era.

You're writing.

Um, that that concept, a fatal illusion, is the 11th in your series.

Um you've been writing it for a number of years, I think more than a decade.

Possibly what, if anything, has surprised you about Cura that you did not think you would find in her as a character, oh my goodness! So when I first started writing out my hope, I had kind of planned out, because I mean when you're writing for those who might not know you.

If you're writing a series um, usually you will get a contract for two to three books at a time.

So it's not like you get a book for ten.

You know or a contract for ten excuse me, so you write and you hope that maybe you get to write more than that.

So when I first started out, I thought: oh man, you know I had this story.

Art planned that basically took care Kira through um book Seven, which is where I feature the London burgers and that's kind of the original Arc that I had in my mind and so the fact that I got to move beyond that.

Everything else was a surprise because I had not I had not plotted beyond that.

I guess is what I would say.

In my mind it was that was like my wildest dreams.

I get to write more than seven books in the series, so um so yeah I would say.

Basically everything beyond that um I kind of imagined that they would eventually have a child, but I may not I mean it might not be that we get to see it grow at all, so that was kind of fun to actually get to try to figure out how to weave that into the story so um, but yeah uh.

That was that was the big surprise.

I guess just that I get to write the series longer and so I had to figure out more conflicts.

I guess a happy problem.

Yes, writing series and I'm.

This is something as a reader I'm fascinated with.

Do you just automatically know it? Do you remember everything about it? How do you keep things straight? I mean characters secondary characters where people live.

You know their particular likes or dislikes, or do you just kind of hope and pray? It's going to work all out when you're right so I have a series notebook for each of my series and it's got certain sections like it's got a character section so I can you know what color were their eyes? And you know they had a kid that this at this point or they you know, went to France or whatever, whatever happens for them um and a big thing.

She was not repeating names, I have to say, I mean look I'm like how many you know.

If I used this name before um and then you know, I have settings, I have different sections.

So there's you know a timeline and settings and um and all those kind of things, that's what that's the only way I can think of to keep it straight because, especially being 11 books in it's just like oh mind, blown I mean I feel like I would be getting it wrong all the time, especially because I have a lot of recurring secondary characters, but they may not have been in the book previously so um.

You know maybe three books since we saw that character and so that I've got to go back and remind myself what they talked like and looked like and all those kind of things because um it surprised you at all, or is it challenging for you as an author, you've written a number of mysteries? How do you keep coming up with new ways of disposing of people? Gosh I, don't know I, guess I, don't know if that makes me have a Macabre mind or what but uh um.

For me, every book starts with some small little thing.

That is the spark of the whole idea um.

It may be where I want to take a character to something I want to explore.

It could be a setting, it could be just something: I want to do with the characters, or maybe it's an idea for a way to murder.

Someone and I want to use it somehow or all those kind of things so um like, for example, the the gem.

The gem of The Germ of this book was that Lord Gage got injured and I was like okay.

How could I feasibly have him get injured, that they'd have to rush to get to him and because it keeps them immobile, and it makes them forces them to have these conversations because, like he would he never would have if he had not been injured so um? You know every book's different but like, for example, Book 12, which I'm working on right now it'll be out next year, it's set in Cornwall and I've been hinting at the fact that um Gage's, let's see Lord Gage's maternal uh um family, is from Cornwall that they're, robes and Smugglers.

He said this a couple times and so I'm like okay, who are these people and I I love, Cornwall, I, just love that area of the UK and so I was like.

This is my chance to get to use that and and all of the stuff that goes on there, so um so yeah.

It just depends on every book, um and then usually, you know, for example, Cornwall, and the murderer is basically inspired by something about Cornwall else.

We come up with ideas, so you referenced a bit earlier, but you read another series: The Verity, Kent books.

What I mean you're already have one popular series.

What made you think I want to write another series and tell us a little bit about Verity sure, yeah Verdi I've always wanted to write two series just because I wanted to have more than one book coming out a year um, and so that just seemed like the optimal thing to have two Series going.

Um and Verity I mean honestly came about because there was a.

There was a time where some of the Publishers were having a bit of a rocky time and they were not issuing contracts and I wasn't sure if I was going to get to write more lady Darby, so I thought well, let's just pitch some more stuff and I was fortunate.

Verity got picked up and Lady Darby got picked up, and so then I I had what I wanted.

So um and Verity is sat in post-world war.

One um England um they traveled to some other places, but it's mostly England um.

She was a spy for British intelligence during the first first world war, which was inspired by real women that were um intelligence that worked in the intelligence community in various ways they kept their mouth shut, they kept quiet and then, when the the um records for MI6 and MI5 were released in the early 2 thousands, we discovered all these thousands of women that had worked and nobody had thought they had.

They thought you know.

Women really started in World, War, II and so um.

There was all these fascinating figures to work with um and to study, and so she's.

Like kind of inspired by all of them and then um her husband, who we believe in the first book, Is Dead, um but realized- come to find out he's alive, and so they work together in the later books um in the series, and he was a war veteran and so they're just kind of fun because they're, you know, she's got all these spy skills that also they're kind of celebrities in their little day and age um.

You know with going to the clubs and all those kind of things and the photographs are in the papers they're taking pictures of these Society women going to these clubs, and so it's kind of a uh.

It's fun.

It's just such a different era.

It's only 90 years, but it's such a different era.

Um and I can say that book six came out last year and book Seven is coming out next year, um there's been a little Gap um, but they are going to Ireland and I'm I'm really excited to tackle that so that'll be something different um and anybody who knows 1920 Ireland Dublin, is a little bit of a scary place.


It's definitely full of intrigue and danger.

One of the things that I imagine for authors would of series that would be challenging is how do you write each book so that a reader can approach if they don't know anything about your characters but make it fit into the overall scheme and I think it's probably safe to say that you can read any of your books independently, but it's probably you have there's layers to it if you're following along from the beginning.

So how do you manage that with each book? Yeah? It's definitely very tricky, especially when you first open the book, because you like you, want somebody who's, never read any of the other books to be able to pick it up and know enough that they can keep reading.

But you also don't want to spend Pages recapping for everybody else, who's already read, so there's that really fine balance I always have um I go through many drafts drafts of the first couple chapters for just for that reason, um, and so it's a lot of a lot of it.

Is you know that question of do they have to know this? In order to keep going forward or not you know, if they do, then I need to recap, if not, then I don't so um and even throughout the book, even there'll be times when you have to oh wait: I gotta remind people, you know this is what happened or explain for somebody who hasn't read.

So it's definitely a tricky balance and the further you get into the series it can get even trickier.

Just because so much has happened, um so yeah, it's it's a fine balance.

I will say that and sometimes I hope, I get it right.

That's all I can say so.

I bet just in case anyone's tuning in and they might be hesitating.

I just start I, don't want to read 10 books before I have to read book 11.

You can read it and enjoy it on its own.

It stands absolutely I always say all of the Mysteries are self-contained within the book.

You'll understand it.

You will enjoy it and figure it out.

It's more of the ongoing story, arcs of the characters you know and their growth- and you know, maybe their disputes with each other and those kind of things.

So you'll get a recap, but you won't have necessarily that depth of background.

So you have I'm too serious with traditional Publishers, but you've.

Also dabbled a little bit in Indie publishing is that correct.

I have I I have a Gothic novel uh, it's the secrets in the Mist um, and it was just a book that was kind of a book of my heart: I, don't I'm, gosh I started gosh.

It's been out for a while and I just adore gothics I love them Mary Stewart's, my favorite author Victoria Holt, those kind of authors, um, and so this is kind of an homage to them, because I just it was just fun to write.

Um and I do have another book.

That's like three quarters of the way finished.

There will come out eventually um.

It's just that I I keep getting contracts from traditional Publishers.

It's an absolutely wonderful problem to have yeah um, so I've got to meet those deadlines.

First, so um, but yeah there will be more, hopefully so, um just kind of a fun side project.

It seems like there's almost been a Renaissance in Gothic in terms of publishing again a whole I agree, yeah um slot that in somewhere next year and finish it um two series: Aren't Enough um, you have another project, that's coming.

Can you tell us anything about that? I? Do my public one of my Publishers approached me and asked me to write a book set on the Titanic and at first I I kind of balked a little bit because, oh, my goodness, such a Titanic is a big project.

I mean people know that you cannot fudge it.

You got to get it right.

Um, but I decided, I would jump in and try I would I would take the challenge um, and so that book is coming out next spring um I believe it's in February or March.

It's called sisters of Fortune and it is actually about a trio of sisters from Winnipeg Canada.

They were the fortunes, that's actually their last name: um family.

There was um six of them that were on the Titanic.

They were first class passengers, millionaires, um, and so we find out what happens to them.

I had a lot of fun, researching that family, um and I had never heard of them and I just feel like people need to know who they are because they're just they're just very interesting and they'll capture, your heart, so um I hope people will look out for that, but yeah that's out next year.

So it does sound, fascinating and there's so many um real historical figures that you can play with when you're writing a book set on the Titanic and all those wealthy people, not to mention the ones that were in steerage that give you different.

Absolutely it's almost I mean you can't basically I wanted to use more than I.

Could you know it's like you have to cut yourself off at one point, I mean at some point: you can't have a cast list, that's 200 people! So yeah was it a challenge not to throw a dead body into the book, exactly I strained, because I had to really follow that timeline of what happened in the Titanic.

So a lot of it was so constrained by that that it was, it would be a little hard to throw that dead body in yeah, maybe maybe a little bit of an urge but yeah I resisted.

In addition to writing, I know you're also a big reader.

Is there anything that you recently have that you'd like to share with us sure yeah so I recently read a book called um.

The enchanted Hacienda yeah I cannot remember the author's name, but it's wonderful case.

It's wonderful, that's a good one and and then um I'm, currently reading the Antiquity Affair yeah, which um I really really enjoying it's kind of Indiana Jones, but with two sisters and it's just it's really interesting um and um, then the Paris deception by Bryn, Turnbull, yeah she's, an amazing writer, yes, art forgeries I mean right up my alley: I did something on um, Wallace, Simpson or something I think.

Yes, she did um or something I.

Can't remember but I yeah, it was an amazing book.

She is she's, a wonderful writer um and then something that I think is relatively new to you.

That I was doing a little bit of research and I discovered that when it comes to social media, you've branched out into book talk traveling I'm, finding my way um, so um authentically making flubs.

Probably but that's okay.

Well, you really I especially enjoy your little chats with other authors, because they're just so interesting and you kind of get a sense of what their books are about.

They're, like a commercial in the best possible way, I guess: oh good, I'm, so glad I I thought you know, as authors, you're, always trying to think for your social media or what have you? But you don't want to always be about yourself because it just feels like you know and I thought you know.

I have all these author friends and all these authors I admire just from Reading their books.

I could do this.

This is you know.

Two minutes of you know just give people a little pitch about what their book's about, and hopefully it you know, helps them have sales and it lets me have fun.

You know it gives me content, so um yeah, so I'm enjoying doing that.

That's great, are you on other social media platforms that we should be learning? I am I'm on Instagram and Facebook, and um I have a YouTube channel also and so I post, for example, those author highlight videos to all of all four of those, so you can catch them on any of them.

Oh great, that's! Wonderful! Um! We do have some of your dedicated fans that have sent in a few questions, so we'll take a minute and pause for those.

Last week run out of time.


One of the first questions that came up was if you could talk a little bit about how important the right title is to your books as well as the cover, and what input do you have as an officer sure, so the title is definitely important.

Um, you know with the lady Darby series, there's kind of a formula.

Obviously, there's some kind of term: that's death, murder or whatever you.

What have you and then there's like an art term, and so it's getting a little tricky at this point because we're we're um, obvious art terms so and some and some of them it's like, stretching it a little bit so um at some point we may have to uh, alter it a little bit, but so far we're we're good um, because I have the titles for 12 and 13.

I can share Book 12, which is the deceptive composition so and all those kind of things so um and then the Verity Kent series um, it's yeah.

It's really.

We have to find the right title.

Sometimes sometimes my I work with my editors and my agent chimes in and sometimes they get their um uh copy Department, even to chime in just to give us ideas, um and it's kind of a collaboration Sometimes they come up with it.

Sometimes sometimes I do or we bounce ideas off each other um, because you know maybe there's a title.

They love but I'm, like yeah, but it doesn't really fit.

What's going on in the book um and so we'll try something else, um so yeah.

It's definitely important for me to find the right title or it just feels like it doesn't work um and then the covers um.

It's also kind of a collaboration I usually get asked um that before they go into their cover conference, that's what the Publishers have where they talk to the art department and first come up with ideas for the covers.

Um I always send ideas.

Sometimes it's in pictures of either locations or clothing or what? What have you um? That would go that I think would go well with the cover so um, and sometimes they take my ideas and sometimes they don't.

Usually they come back with something even better so I, don't you know, sweat it um, so a lot of times it's a collaboration in that way: um yeah! So it's partly my ideas, partly theirs.

They usually want you to be happy, so I mean I.

Rarely have had them.

Do something I, don't like that they didn't adjust for me so yeah.

The next question is actually rather interesting.

Um when you're writing.

Your Mysteries do you always know at the very beginning who did it and how it was done and all the clues that you want to plant or do you have to go back and clean up things when you're I? So when I first started writing I did I always knew.

Who was the um murderer, the culprit, um and then I kept writing these books and I would get to the end and I'd realize somebody else would stand up and said they did it, and so then I had a whole lot of editing to do, because it was like way better and I was like.

Oh no I'm going with this um.

So now, I kind of write, open-ended um until I get maybe 75 of 80 of the way through the book, because I need to make it foil everybody anyway, I mean you need to have those red herrings and so I get to that point and then I have a much better idea of where I really want to go, and so then I feel like I'm wasting less time.

Making those you know.

Adjustments, I still have some adjustments to make, but it's not as big um, and it's also just fun for me, because I do plot, but I only plot to a certain point and I plot pretty Loosely, because I find when I write, I have some much better inspiration and I'm in the story and I'm feeling the characters, and so, if I can strain myself too much I don't enjoy it as much so getting to discover those things for myself while I'm writing is part of the fun I guess in a way, I'm probably going to get the term wrong, but musicians when they kind of are playing along and then they kind of improvise whatever yes to a piece.

It's the same kind of thing, definitely um.

The next person would like to know.

What's your average writing day looks like do you always have a certain routine, does a very book by book yeah.

So when my kids are in school, Summer's always kind of Madness, when my kids are in school, I get them on the bus and I sit down at about 7 30 and check email and do some small things just to see whether there's something I need to tackle right away and then I dive in and optimally I write first and then save a lot of the other more tedious, like less concentrated stuff for later um.

You know making graphics and answering emails and all those kind of things so I optimally I get to write.

You know with lunch breaks and all those kind of things from 7 30 to um 2 30.

When my kids get off the bus and then um you know, I get them off.

Bus and I help them with homework and I.

You know, run them places and I I check email and make graphics and things when I'm sitting in the car or whatever um my husband and I, both actually work from home.

So some days he actually watches them and I get to write into the afternoon.

So I get extra time in so.

But that's really what my day looks like optimally summer, it's kind of a free-for-all, so they're home, and are they letting us work or not so um? Your next fan would like to know what do you love most about the writing process and maybe it's not what you hate or what you dread: I guess what you're, what you don't enjoy? What you enjoy the least about the writing process.

I think what I enjoy the most is Sparks of ideas, starting a whole new book or I'm in the middle of a book and I have a spark of an idea.

That's just you know.

It gets me excited and gets my brain moving and and I just love that it's it's.

You know it's kind of like a high.

Almost you know um and what I hate the least has to be.

There always comes a point in the book, some at some point.

It's always in the middle somewhere where I feel like this is never gonna work, I, don't know what I'm doing I'm just gonna give up.

It's never gonna, I'm, never gonna finish this um and it happens every time.

Even though, and even though I know it I still get so like down and for a couple days and then I I power, my way through it, you know but um, that's always my least favorite place to be I guess your next reader would like to know what is the best piece of writing advice you've ever received, and what would you give to an Aspire advice? Would you give to an inspiring writer, um I think the best advice I can give is for and that I I've even been given? Is that you have to write I mean you can't say you want to be a writer and then you fiddle around and you don't really put any words on the page.

I mean I even say this to myself, sometimes because it's like the idea in your head is always going to be the sparkly, wonderful, perfect thing and then soon as you try to put on the page, it's a mess.

You know, and you just have to give your self permission to get the crap to out just get it on the page.

It's gonna be messy and that's okay and you can edit it, and this is how every writer writes.

Nobody sits down a writes and it's beautiful, it's wonderful prose, so you know huh, not even Nora Roberts right so I mean uh.

I would say you just gotta get you just gotta get in there and get get messy and I.

Think too many people get stalled out.

Because of that you know, and and and also that you know, the idea of I can only write when I feel like it and my muse is striking and all that stuff.

If you're, a professional writer, you gotta write whether you want to or not, because you got a deadline to meet so um.

You know you just have to get pushed past those things.

That's my my advice, that's the advice! That's helped me the most that I that I still have to give myself and remind myself of um and I also like to to recommend you know if you're seriously wanting to pursue this, you know find those professional writers organizations that are for your genre, for example, mystery the mystery writers of America.

They have a chapter called the Guppies, that's for new Authors or people who want to be authors that are not published yet, and they have so many amazing, wonderful resources um for those authors, those aspiring authors, so you know, go find those organizations.

I, know I, know, there's you know many for different genres, so find the genre that fits what you're wanting to write or you are writing and you know, join those and and get those resources and that help and um yeah.

That's what I always suggest that, because you know they can you'll find way more than I can tell you so um.

Another writer earlier this year had explained something this concept to me in a way that I thought was kind of smart.

She said: there's a difference between being a writer and an author.

A writer is someone who sits down every day and does the work.

The author is the person who goes on tour and signs books and does the pr moments and I think people are kind of if you haven't never written you're kind of enamored with the idea of being the author.

But you don't necessarily equate the part of being the writer with that I like that.

I have never heard that before, but yeah I like that, because it's spot on I mean it is it's credit, the author.

Is that glossy thing you see on TV and on movies- and you know, whereas you know writer, it's very different.

The down in the you know down in the trenches and yeah.

You rarely see the author two different people well we're almost out of time.

I can't I believe it's flown by so quickly.

Can you remind us again uh a little bit about your new book, a fatal perspective? Yes, so a fatal illusion, um, that's okay! It's lady Darby book, 11., um and Gage and Kira are racing to um, find out what happened to Gage's father um and why he was attacked him.

Is he still in danger and is he alive and all those kind of things um and I will say next up for me- is sisters of Fortune the Titanic book that's next year and also lady Darby Book 12 will be out next year in June and then my next parody Kent book Seven will be out in the in Autumn of 2024.

So three books.

Next year we have riches, and if readers want to know more about your books and you you have a website I do my website's uh Anna, and there is links to all of my social media.

That's there so just go to that website and you can get to any of them.

So thank you.

So much Anna I can't believe it's just been a jam filled hour of information and fun um.

Your new book is delightful um.

Thank you for sharing it with us sharing time with us.

Thank everyone for tuning in to your virtual watch, We're delighted to have you here at the poison pen, whether in person or virtually.

Thank you.

So much I really appreciate it.

Thank you and thank you for tuning in to another author event, at the poison, Pen Bookstore, okay, now I'm going to click on things and in case I lose you Anna.

You were terrific or I'll.

Let somebody else know about things that was fun you're, just a natural in.

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