Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Today I'm joining Berkley Mystery
in hosting author
Anna Lee Huber
and her new release
Book 7 in the Lady Darby Mysteries

Lady Darby returns to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage, but newlywed bliss won't last for long when her past comes back to haunt her in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

November 1831. After fleeing London in infamy more than two years prior, Lady Kiera Darby's return to the city is anything but mundane, though not for the reasons she expected. A gang of body snatchers is arrested on suspicion of imitating the notorious misdeeds of Edinburgh criminals, Burke and Hare--killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's past--a past she thought she'd finally made peace with--rises up to haunt her. 

All of London is horrified by the evidence that "burkers" are, indeed, at work in their city. The terrified populace hovers on a knife's edge, ready to take their enmity out on any likely suspect. And when Kiera receives a letter of blackmail, threatening to divulge details about her late anatomist husband's involvement with the body snatchers and wrongfully implicate her, she begins to apprehend just how precarious her situation is. Not only for herself, but also her new husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, and their unborn child. 

Meanwhile, the young scion of a noble family has been found murdered a block from his home, and the man's family wants Kiera and Gage to investigate. Is it a failed attempt by the London burkers, having left the body behind, or the crime of someone much closer to home? Someone who stalks the privileged, using the uproar over the burkers to cover his own dark deeds?


Top 10 Ways I’m Inspired to Write
 by Anna Lee Huber

One of the questions I get asked most often by readers and aspiring authors alike is where I gather my inspiration for my books. Where do the ideas for my plots and characters come from, and how do I motivate myself to keep going if I get stuck? So in the spirit of those questions, I’ve compiled my list of Top 10 ways I gather inspiration.

1. Who hasn’t been inspired by a wonderful Film? Whether it’s the big screen or small, they often spur us into forming questions, or drive us to research a certain location or moment in history. It can be a documentary or a children’s cartoon. The type of show doesn’t matter. Creativity often sparks in the most unlikely places. The plot for A Grave Matter was inspired by a documentary I watched about Lincoln’s assassination, public procession, and burial—a program I hadn’t the least inkling would trigger an idea.

2. Books are perhaps the most obvious sources of inspiration for authors. I’ve gleaned hundreds of ideas from my reading material, be it research texts or works of fiction. And once again, it’s sometimes the least obvious documents that stimulate the most interesting concepts. I may write historical mysteries, but I’ve gotten ideas from sci-fi novels, contemporary autobiographies, old maps, devotional texts, and even opera scores. Everything is fodder for a good story.

3. Music can be a source of inspiration both before and during the writing process. I’ve conceived of entire story ideas simply from listening to one song on the radio or symphony in a concert hall. The best music contains movement, and emotion, and story--all in an abbreviated format. Music can also help set the tone while I’m writing, enabling me to slide back into the correct frame of mind. In many ways, it’s almost like muscle memory. I hear it and I’m back in my story’s world. (It also helps drone out the noise of my kids.)

4. There is nothing more inspiring to the human soul than Nature, and the same goes for creativity. When I find my well has run dry, I know it’s time to get outside and breathe some fresh air. A stroll through a beautiful place away from the concrete and brick world of humans is somehow both relaxing and stimulating. It allows my mind to both empty and fill, overflowing with motivation.

5. If there was one thing I wish I could do more of, it would be Travel. At this stage of life with young children it’s tricky, but our family still makes it a priority to hit the road on adventures whenever we can. Not only does it help us bond and allow us to experience new people, places, and things; it also refills my well of creativity and sparks inspiration. Stepping out of your comfort zone, trying something different, and embracing adventure are immeasurably important for your inner muse.

6. When I’m stuck while writing or plotting, I like to Play the Game of “What If?”. There are no rules. Nothing is too zany or outlandish for this wacky private brainstorming session. The point is simply to loosen up the brain and my inhibitions, to stretch beyond the obvious and maybe even make myself laugh. And sometimes the zaniest idea is the one that fires me up the most, compelling me to find a way to make it work for my book. Such a challenge is exciting.

7. I’ve already mentioned that I have young children, and sometimes there’s nothing like a bit of Child’s Play to get the creative juices flowing. Whether its building a castle, pretending to be a winter fairy, or serving up a fancy dinner with plastic food, spending time with my children unlocks a playful side to my brain. It also forces me to turn off my inner critic and stop taking myself so seriously. When playing make-believe, the point is to disregard reality and embrace what is fun. This can also be achieved without children. The trick is to let go and dive in whole-heartedly to that game of DND, or round of laser tag, or quest to save Zelda.

8. Another activity from which I derive inspiration is simply Moving My Body. Sitting sedentary for too long is a killer for creativity, at least in my case. If I start to feel stale, I know I need to get up and move. It doesn’t truly matter how. I can go for a walk or run, dance around the house, or lace up some ice skates and hit the local rink. As long as it gets my limbs swinging and my heart pumping, and jostles the cobwebs from my mind. Much like nature, it both empties the mind of moldy nonsense and replenishes it with fresh thoughts.

9. Time and again, Water has proved the solution to what seems like the stickiest snafu. If I can’t think my way out of a problem, or every piece of dialogue sounds trite, I hop in the shower, soak in the tub, go for a swim, or even wash the dishes by hand. Something about that running, swirling, trickling water allows my subconscious to take over and flood me full of new ideas or a fresh perspective. It truly feels like magic sometimes, and proves that water isn’t just essential to physical life, but also creativity.

10. Perhaps the most basic way I spur the wheels of creativity and inspiration when I’m staring at the blank page is to focus on the Setting. It doesn’t matter whether that bit of prose will remain or all be scrapped during edits, the point is that by forcing myself to focus on my protagonists’ surroundings and their reaction to them, it helps me stage the scene and ground the characters where they are. It’s like opening a window into the world that grows ever wider with each point of description until I’m immersed three-dimensionally with all my senses and can then carry the story forward.


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