Linda Huber – Q&A

The Un-Family by Linda Huber was published by Hobeck Books on 8 December 2022.

Linda kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about The Un-Family.

The Un-Family is set in a fictional village in rural England, somewhere between London and the south coast. Holly is the main character – she’s a vet, not long qualified and aspiring to work with wildlife one day. Then there’s her businessman husband Dylan, his twin brother Seth and their mother Elaine, who lives with her late daughter’s child, 16-year-old Megan. A perfectly ordinary family, in fact. Until their past rears up…

2. What inspired the book?

The first idea came from a TV series I watched a few years ago, about a group of people who’d set up a wildlife centre in England and worked there to help and support the local wildlife, which included deer, foxes, badgers and various wild birds. I thought at the time this would be a good backdrop for a book, so I started making notes on the animal rescues the team performed, and what kind of help or treatment was given. Researching these further was huge fun; I ended up with far more wildlife scenes than I actually used in the book. One thing the TV wildlife centre didn’t have was a vet of its own, and this was where I started to create my fiction around the research. First came Holly the vet, then the family grew from there.

3. Do you plan before you start writing or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

It’s a bit of both for me. I usually start with a rough idea of where the book is going and what problems and issues I want to include. In The Un-Family, this was wildlife, and also alcoholism, though we ended up with a good chunk of sibling rivalry too. First up, work out who the characters are, then I outline chapters 1-3, just a short paragraph each. Then I start writing. Once the second chapter is written, I do a couple more chapter plans, and so on. There’s no point planning the entire book before I start, because it always changes along the way. That’s what’s so fascinating about writing.

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?

I have both self- and traditionally published books, and what surprises me most every time is how much I enjoy the editing process, especially structural editing. A good editor is a must no matter how you’re published, and I’ve worked with some great ones. It makes such a difference to have input from someone who ‘gets’ the book, is enthusiastic about it and makes suggestions about how to present it better. Before working with my first editor, I’d thought that editing would be tortuous – it’s not! And no matter how good a writer you are, there is always, always room for improvement.

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

I live on the banks of Lake Constance in N.E. Switzerland, and one of my favourite ways to relax is to walk along the lake path and admire the views across to Germany and Austria. (It’s a great way to work out plot problems too – as long as you remember your notebook.) Visiting towns and cities is fun too, just walking around, soaking up the atmosphere, visiting historical buildings and imagining the people who’ve lived there over the centuries.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

The impossible question! Better make it a long book… Am I allowed the complete works of someone prolific like Agatha Christie, or Dorothy Sayers… Ruth Rendell? If not, I’d choose something humorous. The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium, by Gerald Durrell. It’s real laugh-out-loud stuff no matter how often you read it.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Oddly, no one has ever asked me if I enjoy writing. Maybe they just assume I do, but while that’s correct most days, I’m sure I’m not the only writer who has days when they could quite cheerfully chuck their computer (or whatever they write on) through the window…

About the book

For better, for worse
Wildlife vet Holly’s life seems blissful: husband Dylan is the man of her dreams, she has a rewarding career and a lovely home. And yet, a tiny niggle is growing daily. Dylan is becoming increasingly remote – but why? Holly is determined to mend the fissure in their relationship. But a shocking discovery changes everything…

Family ties
Then there’s Dylan’s family: his wayward twin Seth and their widowed mother Elaine, who is rather fond of a glass or two of sherry. Nothing in Elaine’s life is easy, bringing up teenage granddaughter Megan while the family grieves the loss of Megan’s mother.

Family lies
A tragic event rocks the foundations of the family, and Holly’s life starts to unravel. Dylan drifts ever further away. Megan is left uncertain and alone, while Seth falls deeper into himself.

The bonds that once bound the family together are breaking. Can they ever be repaired?


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