Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel: Interview with Lia Habel

US Cover
Gone With the Respiration, Book 1
by Lia Habel
Amazon, B&NGoodreads, Hardcover, 467 pgs. 
Available Now!
Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

UK Cover
But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

IB Teenie Reviews DD
Dearly, Departed is a true zombie novel. I'm tied up in knots trying to think of enough superlatives to express how awesome this book is, but I've come to accept that I cannot encapsulate it's deliciously macabre, romantic, and terrifying perfection better than this quote:
"Dearly, Departed, a romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip roaring adventure, spine tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love."
Yes, Dearly is all of those things, I cannot do better. What I can do is tell you that this book intrigued me at the start. I was terrified for Bram at our first meeting. Habel's writing teeth gripped me by the throat and held my attention captive for 467pages.  The book is intricately detailed and crafted in such a way that even the science and politics are easy and a pleasure to understand. The story was never rushed, the reader gets the chance to acclimate to a cyber Victorian environment, we get to slip into each narrator's skin and feel what makes them tick. But trust me that this story is not stagnant, in truth it's cinematic and I think once the series is complete will be intensely epic.

The terror of zombies, the horror of their reality is never diminished by the attraction Nora eventually feels for a very undead Bram. I dare you not to fall for him, Bram is strong, self sacrificing, and sweet..... and enbamled. And Nora is a force of nature. Suffering occasionally from short person syndrome where she desperately wants to prove herself, and yet she is still a princess at times. She is a wonderful contradiction and she feels very real.

Dearly is one of those rare books where the supporting cast is as real and rich as it's protagonists. The alternating narrators in no way made me want to skip ahead to a Nora or Bram chapter. Each told a vital facet of this very multifaceted story. Dearly, Departed will scare you, and you will fall in love with every moment of it.

Lia Habel
IB Teenie Interviews Lia Habel

IBT: Please tell us how you came about your version of the science behind the zombie virus? I must say it was excellently articulated.

LH:  There are lots of ideas out there about different forms of zombie-causing disease - I've seen narratives based on virus models, bacterium models, etc. Prions are no different, just newer, and have in fact been used in quite a few movies and books already. I've been lucky enough to speak with several leading researchers about prions, as well as Sean Ragan, the gentleman who is likely the originator of the idea (in his "Journal of Zombie Science" article, which I learned about from Jonathan Maberry's fantastic book ZOMBIE CSU). As for myself - I just read the source material as a zombie fan, and thought that model of contagion looked like it'd be fun to play around with when I started writing my own story. I love reading and learning about different fields of science, but I always feel like I'm grasping at straws when I try to describe what I've learned to other people - glad to know I did a good job!
IBT: Will we learn if the virus has spread outside of the continent Dearly takes place in? Or if maybe the virus came to them from somewhere else?
LH: Yes, we will definitely learn more about the Lazarus as the series progresses. Let's just say that Dr. Dearly was never alone in his discovery. And I'd love to explore more of the known world - at the very least I'd like to take some characters up north (maybe to meet Renfield's family?) and into the Punk territories. And one of the characters in book one is actually from Africa, as we come to learn in book two, so hopefully we'll learn a bit about what's going on over there, as well!
IBT: Why wasn't Z-Base obliterated after 0600? I figured it'd be an important target.
LH: Couple of reasons. A. The great majority of Company Z was off-base by that point. Wolfe took the entire lot with him up to New London. B. Because of the living staff. True, they could have been ordered to evacuate, but so many of them were loyal to their undead coworkers and friends, had obviously worked alongside them for years - I can see the higher-ups thinking, "We've got rumors of a couple more zombies to eradicate here, but send in ground troops, do it surgically. We don't need to be accused of firebombing our own living people indiscriminately, on top of all the stuff that's now out in the open. We're in enough trouble as it is." With all the chaos in New London, maybe the ground team got waylaid, maybe orders got confused. 
IBT: Do you really imagine humans could live side by side with the living dead? People are pretty zealous and intolerant.
LH: That's definitely an issue, and something we'll be exploring in upcoming books. Because I'm in total agreement with you - people are especially intolerant of what they fear. I think that people with sane, undead relatives and friends would fight for them though - if my mom became a zombie, I'd fight for her right to exist! I think that's what we're seeing in New London at the end of book one, this extremely vocal minority with undead folks in their lives. Maybe they'll win, maybe they won't.
IBT: Poor darling Bram has a very short undead shelf life, but it's improbableto have him decomposing for all eternity. At any point did you contemplate
making a more sustainable zombie mythology?
LH: No, not once. I knew that I wanted Bram to face that kind of future - he wouldn't be the same character if he were looking at a normal life span, I don't think. And there are so many books out there with happily-ever-after endings - I wanted to create something different.
IBT: How difficult was it making a zombie- a dashing one too- into a romantic hero?
LH: I think my editors were worried people wouldn't buy into the idea, at certain points!  But it wasn't that hard for me - I've always loved monsters as heroes, the weirder the better. I knew I had to do away with the really gross things, like issues of rot and smell, but other than that I had all this great material to twist in my own direction. Most of all, I love getting into how the way zombies work influences the way they think and act. I think Bram's attractiveness lies in how he acts, the choices he makes. In my head, the whole thing makes total sense - I'm just really glad I was able to convey it to readers.
IBT: What are your favorite characteristics in a hero?
LH: I really love male characters that CAN be devastatingly violent, or just generally kick-ass - but who choose fairness and diplomacy whenever they can, and that have a softer side. I love exploring different displays of strength, because I think we live in a culture that tells guys that they have to be macho, they have to be stereotypically "tough" 24/7, or they're not a "real man" - and I hate that. There is strength in gentleness. There is strength in having values. There is strength in being able to laugh during troubled times. There is strength in being able to feel and embrace emotions, including profound grief, and then pick yourself up again and keep going. If nothing else, I hope Bram shows that.
IBT: I loved the politics in Dearly, the tribal Civil War between NewVictorians and Punks was fascinating. If you lived in the Dearly Departed
universe, what side would your sympathies lie with?
LH: Probably the New Victorians - kind of shallow, I know, but I like pretty dresses and sparkly tech! My flawlessly appointed pink electric carriage brings all the boys to the yard...
IBT: What makes an unforgettable heroine?
LH: Someone who's well-rounded. I think that occasionally "tough girl" characters can end up coming across as bratty and obnoxious (though what does that say about how we view tough girls?), so you have to balance it out. Even the most capable heroines can go through dark periods, through periods of weakness and self-doubt. You have to explore the bad and the good.
IBT: Nora is an extraordinarily tough and resilient character. Having said
that, it seems as though her Achilles heel is losing loved ones. Do you think
having lost so much made it relatively easier for her to accept and love the
LH: Definitely! I think she has a really solid grasp of the value of a lifetime, and it's precisely because she's lost so many people. She's willing to trade the pain in the end for the pleasure in the moment, and she's incapable of lying to herself about the state her new friends are in, so she's perfectly suited to befriend and love the undead. Also, as hardheaded as she and her father are (and she and Dr. Dearly are SO the same person), they're both incredibly tolerant and willing to embrace weirdness and different points of view. I think there's that, too. (We'll learn more about the Dearly family in book two, so readers will begin to see where these tendencies may have come from.)
IBT: What do you love in a villain?
LH: The best villains are personally invested in what they're doing. They're not just Big Bad - they have a vendetta. That said, I don't have one yet, but I like sexy villains as well! Because the dark side has cookies, and all that. 

      IBT:  Thank you Lia!  

  • Win a copy of Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel! You choice between the Hardcover or Audio editions.
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  • This Contest has ended 11/30/11 12:01 am PST.


Chey said...

This book sounds so great!
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Thanks so much!

Sniffly Kitty said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

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Martha Lawson said...

I would love to win this one, it sounds like a really good book.

+1 old gfc follwer

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Nicole@The More the Merrier said...

Great interview. I haven't read too many zombie books but this one sounds really interesting.
+1 GFC follower Nicole@ The More the Merrier
+1 IB Bookmarked Blog follower
+1 Tweet


Orchid said...

Okay, this interview has me wanting to read Dearly, Departed right this very moment.

I really loved what Ms. Habel had to say about Bram, and that men can still be considered strong while (basically) not being a pig. definitely looking forward to reading about him in DD now (and usually I could careless about the love interest in a book).

Thanks for the super giveaway. =)

+1 GFC= Orchid

Orchid @ The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia

Gisele Alv said...

The book cover is beautiful! And i would love to read it! Please count me in!
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1+ tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/Gisselle_Alv/status/133772734470692865


The Lovely Getaway said...

Contest ends 11/01/11?

Well hopefully that's a typo and I'm not too late :Dhaha!

Thanks so much for the giveaway! count me in :D

+1 I'm an old follower
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perla said...

Uh woops! Total typo on this giveaway and on Faerie Ring giveaway too!!! Thanks for telling me.


Llehn said...

I'd love to play please.

+1 I'm an old follower
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BlackWolf said...

This book sounds great and i like the US cover..
+1 for following of GFC- blackwolf
+1 for following ibbookmarked blog on GFC- Blackwolf
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Ash said...

This book sounds awesome. :]

+1 Follower of Imperial Beach Teen Blog, GFC = Ash

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Jessica@a GREAT read said...

OOh wow! This sounds awesome!!

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Anonymous said...

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Jenni Merritt said...

I have been dying to read this book! (Dying... ha...)

GFC Jenni Merritt

jennimerritt.writing (a) gmail (dot) com

Lunanshee's Lunacy said...

I'm halfway through 'Dearly, Departed' and it is one of my favorite books this year! So unique.

lunanshee at g mail dot com

Yan said...

I've been wanting to read/listen Dearly, Departed since the cover was released. (It's too gorgeous!)

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Sayomay said...

Im a follower! Samantha D
Thanks so much for this giveaway Ive been wanting to read this for a while now!

Sarah said...

Wow, this book sounds so interesting! The way the setting of the story sets up reminds me of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher...except with zombies! Thanks for giving us a chance to read this awesome book!

+1 I'm a follower :)
+1 I follow your companion blog

elin said...

Thank you for the giveaway!
+1 for following of GFC- pinkflower
+1 for following ibbookmarked blog on GFC-pinkflower
2 extra entries
emilymeimei204 AT yahoo DOT com

Fallon said...

I'm totally pumped for this! :D


Haleyknitz said...

Enter me please! haleymathiot@yahoo.com

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canadian teen said...

Looks like a good book and I love the futuristic setting of this book. Thanks for sharing it to us as I consider it to buy one this coming weekends.

Anonymous said...

1 I'm an old follower
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email subsbiber


Anna said...

I follow both Blogs via GFC Anna Dase and tweeted

3 entries


Allen Sky said...

Do you know if the book is available for shipping to Southeast-Asian countries?