I thought I’d bring along Lia Habel to the blog to talk about her 2011 debut Dearly, Departed in hopes that it will tide myself and others over until the release of book two, Dearly, Beloved, which is coming out in September this year! Lia talks about writing, steampunk and what’s in store for Bram and Nora!
Q: Your debut novel, ‘Dearly, Departed‘, came out in October. How has the reception been so far with readers? Is being a published author all you expected?
It’s been incredible! It’s so weird to wake up and realize, “Wait, I need to respond to my fan mail.” When I started getting emails that weren’t other writers or bloggers, just people wanting to tell me how much they enjoyed the book – that was wild. I try to keep my expectations a little low, just because I’d rather be accused of being blind than being egotistic, so I’m really grateful for everything good that comes my way. So far the reaction’s been really positive. If any Habel haters exist, I am currently ignorant of the location of their encampment, and I don’t want to know it. I’ve gotten great reviews from established publications, I was actually asked to blurb someone else’s book – it’s awesome.
Q: The book has loads of fun stuff in it! How did you go about fine-tuning each of your cultures – the Steampunk ‘Punks’ and the Neo-Victorian ‘New Victorians’?
They really came to me on the fly. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of different societies within a steampunk universe, and how they might regard and interact with one another. Specifically, I’ve often found myself thinking, “There has to be an establishment in order to support a punk movement,” and I wanted to directly address that. So I decided to go with the idea that one side uses high technology to replicate a Victorian world, the other side being more interested with issues of authenticity and equality. It brings up a lot of fascinating questions – I can’t wait to open up more of them.
Q: ‘Dearly, Departed‘ also includes a lot of different viewpoints, from which the story is told. Who was the most fun for you to write through the eyes of? And which character surprised you?
I had the most fun writing Nora, definitely – she’s just this little ball of energy, she’s so expressive, it’s impossible to find her boring! Plus she’s thrust into this whole new world, which was sort of the point – I wanted readers to get used to zombies alongside another “new recruit,” as it were. She’s our ticket into this world of awesome dead people, and with her we get to see it through fresh eyes. (Har de har har.) The most surprising character was probably Pam. She’s much more subtle in book one, at least to start out with, but she totally comes into her own. Unfortunately, she has to go through hell to get there.
Q: How many more books are slated for the ‘Gone with the Respiration‘ series? How much work has gone into book two so far? And is there a tentative title?
There’s a sequel, which I’m currently revising – it’s entitled ‘Dearly, Beloved‘, and should be out in September of 2012! I’m not sure how many books there will be overall; I’d like at least five to tell the story the way I think it needs to be told. It’s a huge world, after all, and I feel that all parts of it need to be acknowledged and dealt with.
Q: Can you give us a hint as to where Nora and Bram’s story will head in the next book?
Nooo, it’s a surprise. Though book two is a touch darker than book one. The world’s just changed fundamentally, after all – the dead are now out in the open, everyone’s been moved to New London, and some people aren’t handling it well. I think the ending includes both the best possible thing that could happen, and the worst.
Q: What are some of your personal favourite steampunk or Victorian-inspired books, films or television shows?
I love comics like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Ruse, books like The Difference Engine and all the wonderful Victorian classics, and shows like Hell on Wheels (though I wouldn’t label it explicitly steampunk). I also love finding suggestions of steampunk and anachronistic elements in video games – I’m playing Arkham City now, and there’s a whole steampunk world under Gotham! I actually squealed like a schoolgirl when I saw that.
Q: And finally, if there are readers out there who still haven’t picked up ‘Dearly, Departed‘, how would you inspire them to do so?
If you’re not reading it because you’re thinking, “Oh God, not another teen paranormal romance” – it also includes tons of action and comedy, and the heroine doesn’t fall for the hero at first sight. If you’re thinking, “Zombies shouldn’t be corrupted like this – they can’t be heroes!” – there are evil zombies as well, and also, you should watch more zombie movies. I can recommend some. Zombies have been intelligent and tragic from day one. If you just haven’t looked at it yet – well, I’d love it if you did! It has pretty dresses and guns in it!