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Author Interview & Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Posted by The Obscured Vixen on January 26, 2012

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Genre(s): urban fantasy, young adult

What’s the Dearly series (usually referred to, in jest, as Gone with the Respiration) about? Basically zombies, pretty dresses, and guns. Set a few hundred years in the future, the series follows the adventures of an unlikely group of teenagers as they navigate a world monumentally altered by time, climate change, war, and the ravenous dead. Told with a sense of humor, equal parts paranormal fantasy and sci-fi, the story stresses the importance of loyalty, trust, and the quality of a person’s soul over the condition of his or her body.

This book sucked me in from page one, and I could barely put it down! I loved how Lia Habel threw zombies, teenagers, the Victorian Era, and World War III into a blender and made it work.

Nora, a teenage orphan home from school for vacation, suddenly finds her home over run with zombies attacking her. As she’s on her roof shooting them with a shot gun (awesome scene!), one of those zombies ends up being a ‘good guy’ and saving her life. Bram, a zombie that is now part of the army, was sent to save Nora because of a special tie she has to saving the zombies.

At first Nora is scared and doesn’t know what is going on; she didn’t even know that zombies existed. Bram slowly earns her trust  and the two become friends. Bram helps Nora adapt to the new world she was brought into it, and over time Nora accepts, and enjoys, her new life.

Lia Habel does a fabulous job of explaining the history of the world since the story begins in the 22nd century. She beautifully explains how and why people are dressed in Victorian era clothing, using carriages, and steam trunks.

There are many twists and turns along the way for Nora, and I loved every minute of it. If you are looking for a refreshing, edgy new read, definitely pick up this book!


Lia Habel was nice enough to do an interview to go along with this post. Lia is so sweet, and such an awesome chick.

Hope you enjoy this interview with Lia Habel!

Lia Habel was born in Jamestown, NY, and has lived there the majority of her life. Her first book, Dearly, Departed, is a sweeping tale of zombie-living romance set in a cyber-Victorian/steampunk future. When Dearly, Departed sold, Lia was swimming in debt incurred from her studies and years of un- and underemployment, with only a few dollars to her name. Miss Habel enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (she has watched over a hundred of them), commissioning ball gowns, and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has recently been given.

Obscured Vixen: I’ve never read a book with interactive zombies before. They’ve always been mindless, just wanting to eat people. What made you choose zombies for your story?
Lia Habel: Zombies are really unique monsters in that they are us. I try to avoid using the term “human” to mean “a living person” for that reason – zombies are human. They’re just dead bodies with a certain amount of autonomy – folks who’re rotting a lot faster than the rest of us. I think this is why they’re so frightening, even just to look at (all other threats removed), and also why they’re really effective for tragic and emotional use, as well. It’s that aspect of them that I most enjoy, and why I wanted to write about them – and why I’m so determined to keep my zombies “zombies,” to let them rot, to let their minds go.
In Bram’s case, especially, I think the fact that he’s got such a weird exterior makes his interior shine all the brighter. This isn’t a guy that gets the girl in five minutes, that puts her under a physical spell – but once he DOES get the girl, he’s got her for life, because she’s just emotionally overwhelmed by how good and strong he is.

OV: Dearly, Departed takes place in the future, but resembles the Victorian Era. If you had the choice, would you go back in time to live in the Victorian Era?
LH:In a heartbeat! I’d take it warts and all. In fact, if I’m ever propelled back in time, I’m going to make my fortune by putting my Disneyfied childhood to use – I’ll recreate movies like Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid as spectacular-spectaculars. Dibs on the idea.

OV: After meeting you at New York Comic Con, I see a lot of yourself in Nora. Do you live vicariously through her while writing?
Sometimes, but she’s a lot more reasonable than I am! I actually see a lot more of myself in Bram and Vespertine. (Yes, Vespertine. All will become clear in book two.) I definitely share a temper and a tendency for snarkiness with her, though – I’m really shy in public, and I tend to keep to myself even when I feel comfortable (I never think I have anything interesting to say), but oh, the sarcastic thoughts and bits of dark humor flying through my head…

OV: I love your sense of style. I wish I could pull it off! How many wigs and gowns do you own?
LH:You can, and you should. But oh…gosh. I don’t even know how many wigs I have. At least thirty. As for dresses, I think I’m up to 16 or so, now – a mix of day and evening. And then I have various separates. I’m horrible about buying things. I need to have the Internet taken away from me. All too often I’m up at three a.m. and I end up telling myself, “But THESE bloomers are PINK!”

OV: Have you ever reread a scene that you wrote and thought, “Wow, that was perfect!” Something you were very proud of?
LH:I just did that for the revamped opening to D,B! I wanted to start with Bram and Nora right off the bat, get them alone for a few moments before things explode. It ended up being really cute, I think. They’re disgustingly cute together.

OV: The second book in this series, Dearly, Beloved, is scheduled to come out later this year. How long after the ending of Dearly, Departed does this book take place?
LH:In my first draft, the story picked up hours after book one. My editors advised pushing it back, and the most they could get out of me was two weeks. With the shelf life some of my characters have, I can’t have months-long periods between books – I need to wring all the life out of them that I can. But in the first chapter, we’re immediately dealing with the epilogue from book one.

OV: Any information that you can share with us regarding Dearly, Beloved? I can’t wait to read it!
LH:I don’t want to give anything away! But there’s a whole new cast of characters, living and dead. It’s definitely a little darker than book one. Lots of gun-at-the-head, zero-hour-we-have-ten-separate-threats-to-deal-with stuff. Things are insane. It’s a bit of a complicated plot, but I can never do things simply.

OV: How long have you been writing?
LH:All my life, but only for my own amusement. I never dreamed things would get this far!

OV: Do you usually write steampunk?
LH:This is the first series I’ve ever written. I’m working on a few other non-zombie projects right now, and although I wouldn’t categorize them as steampunk, they both definitely have a touch of steampunk influence. Even the more cyberpunky thing I’m working on has elements of Victorianism woven into it. The Victorian aesthetic is just in my blood; it’s hard to get away from it. Even if I wrote a contemporary high school novel, I’m sure the prom dress would have a bustle.

OV: As an Author After Dark (AAD) featured author, what are you most looking forward to?
LH:BEIGNETS. Okay, AAD people – if you want me to love you? Cafe du Monde. Beignets. Those little doughy things. I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER AND POSSIBLY NAME A ZOMBIE AFTER YOU.

OV: Consider it done : ) Are you planning on getting all dolled up for the AAD ball?
Absolutely! My spring stuff is shipping now (I usually order my spring clothes in the winter, and vice-versa – sometimes the dresses take a while to make), and I can’t wait to wear all of it. Most of it is suits and “I have to appear in front of normal people” clothes, but I got the cutest formal lavender Gothic Lolita dress that I’m going to wear over a shimmering underskirt. I might take that. : D

Other Author Interviews & Book Reviews:


6 Responses to “Author Interview & Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel”

  1. awesome

  2. Aurian said

    What a great interview, and I love your dresses! I like going to fantasy fairs as well, and have one dress and one skirt/shirt ensemble. And a hat, mustn’t forget the hat. And lots of other accessories.

    I really want to read your book, if it didn’t have zombies in them. I have something against them (and horror movies!). So perhaps some new books/series you have yet to write will be my kind of reading fun.

    Good luck with the new release, and lots of fun at AAD!

  3. […] Fennell Yasmine Galenorn Lia Habel Jess Haines Mark Henry Leanna Renee Hieber Alexandra Ivy Darynda Jones Stephanie Julian Erin […]

  4. […] Patterson. Finished January 5, 2012 4. Seduction in Death, JD Robb. Finished January 11, 2012 5. Dearly, Departed, Lia Habel. Finished January 15, 2012 6. Blood Rights, Kristen Painter. Finished January 16, 2012 7. Four Blind […]

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    Author Interview & Book Review: Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel « The Obscured Vixen

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