Take Five with Lia Habel, Author, ‘Dearly, Departed’


Lia Habel is the contributor for this week’s Take Five, a regular series where we ask authors and editors to share five facts about their latest books. Habel  is the author of Dearly, Departed, available now in trade paperback:


The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the mores of an antique era. Sixteen-year-old Nora Dearly is far more interested in her country’s political unrest than in silly debutante balls. But the death of her beloved parents leaves Nora at the mercy of a social-climbing aunt who plans to marry off her niece for money. To Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. Now she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting a fatal virus that raises the dead. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and thoroughly deceased. But like the rest of his special undead unit, Bram has been enabled by luck and modern science 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.

Lia Habel:

1. As the New Victorians have based their society on what information *remains* about the actual Victorian era, they often get things wrong. When it comes to research they don’t have access to, say, the sartorial wealth of the British Isles–but they do have access to a copy of Moulin Rouge. Aside from being fun, this allows me to mix terribly anachronistic things into my story, like 1950s cars and episodes of The Shadow.

2. Whenever I’m stuck for direction with my zombie hero, Bram Griswold, I start muttering the phrase “white-hatted cowboy.” I wanted to create a hero who was just that–the hero. The world has enough antiheroes and pretty bad boys, especially in young adult publishing; I wanted to do something different. Granted, he’s a latent cannibal, but hey. We all have flaws.

3. The world of Dearly is very tongue-in-cheek, and I like it that way. Logic is the enemy. My hope is that each successive book in the series will be wilder and weirder than the one before, and so when it comes to worldbuilding I refuse to rule anything out. If at some point I think advanced, intelligent automatons need to be in there? Zombies vs. robots, darling. We’re doing it.

4. So far, the weirdest thing to happen to me while writing was discovering that the Allister preserve actually exists. In book one, I made reference to a nature preserve somewhere in “northern Nicaragua,” and I pulled this out of thin air. During the research for book two, while I was mapping out a chase scene, I found a giant void in Google Maps that stood in the way. It’s an actual nature preserve. Right where I said it would be. Spooooky.

5. Although many people describe the Dearly series as a love story, and while there is a heteromortal romantic relationship at its core, I see it as much more than that. I take very little inspiration from romance novels or romantic movies…in fact, that’s not my thing at all. I take much more inspiration from sci-fi films, comic books, and video games. Lia like things go boom. Lia think kissing gross.