Monday, November 28, 2011

Author Interview: Lia Habel

Monday, November 28, 2011
Lia Habel, author of the awesome book Dearly, Departed, stopped by The Page Sage for an interview!!!! (I'm pretty excited!)

Lia Habel
About You:
1. You studied in the UK for a while. What was that like and how did your time there affect you and your writing?

I loved studying in the UK! It was definitely different, both academically (I remember the talk they had just for American students, where they did their best to convince us that yes, the grading scale is different, and a 70 is pretty good, and stop hyperventilating, all of you overachievers!), and socially. Writing-wise, I think it was a great period of real life grammar immersion- there were so many papers to write, each in perfect British English. Learning and using British grammar rules forced me to understand precisely how they differed from American grammar rules, which gave me a better grasp of both.

2. What is your favorite contemporary novel and your favorite Victorian novel? How have they inspired you?

I have to admit- I don't really have a *favorite* contemporary novel! I do enjoy quite a few- THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin  is one of my recent "OMG, must...stay...up...longer!" books, and WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks was probably the last. I *love* Victorian literature- I love THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, MIDDLEMARCH, DRACULA, JANE EYRE, all that fantastic stuff. Everything I read inspires me, especially linguistically (after I read a Victorian book, I find my writing takes a definite high-class turn!) and atmospherically. I love seeing what other writers "feel" in different scenes. Conveying sensations other than the visual is something I occasionally struggle with.

I love the melodrama and dark dramatics of Victorian pulp literature. I take a ton of inspiration from that. My books are all twirling capes and well-timed explosions for that reason.

3. If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

I wanted to work in a museum, and if I'd been lucky enough to find employment in that field (I have my M.A. in museum studies), I might not have written a book!

About Dearly, Departed:
4. Dearly, Departed is told from five different points-of-view. Which one was the most challenging and which one was the most fun to write?

Pamela was actually the most challenging, because her journey is more emotional and internal, at least until the action starts for her. It was harder to get into her head initially, because she's a "good girl" and yet, doesn't buy everything she's told. Balancing that, and differentiating her from Nora- those were both great challenges.

I definitely had the most fun writing Nora. She's just this little ball of energy, pinging off of everything in her environment, and she has such a dark sense of humor. I love getting into her head.

5. What was the hardest part about writing D.D.?

The editing. The endless, endless editing. We went through six drafts altogether- two years of editing. I'll admit, by the end? I'd reached a point where I loathed my own book. I never wanted to read it again. Luckily, I love it again now! But you can reach that "editing wall," just like athletes reach a physical wall where their bodies *can't* move anymore. It can be exasperating, infuriating, depressing.

6. If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as Nora, Bram, and Pamela?

Bram-Gaspard Ulliel. There'a great photo of him that strikes me as Very Bram.
Nora- Emily Browning. Nora's quite baby-faced and china doll-esque... with a shotgun.
Pamela- I have photos of Dilshad Vadsaria that I occasionally put around my screen when I'm writing Pam.

.Gaspard Ulliel

About Writing:
7. Do you have any "writing rituals"? (i.e. do you make a playlist, eat certain snacks, etc.)

Most of my rituals are time- and activity- related. For instance, I walk about four miles a day, and have to walk either before I get started or midway through- I rely on it for sort of a mind cleanse. I notice plot holes when I walk! I also have to start around 1 pm., and I have to have the whole day- if I start later, even half an hour later, or if I have to stop at a certain point, I feel like the day's over and I shouldn't bother. Yes, you can laugh at me. I am getting better about this.

I have vast playlists, but I tend to listen to them only when drafting, not editing.

8. What advice do you have for writers, especially teen writers?

I feel so horribly ignorant- I'm the last person who should be giving advice! The one thing I recommend is that you write what you love, what you want to see and read- don't try to write to trend, don't let passing 'trends" bother you or stress you out. I hate when people try to pin down the market (dystopia out, fairies in!), because I have this nightmare that a writer somewhere is going to see that, sigh, and toss her brilliant dystopian work away. There is room in the world for everyone's story.

9. You originally wanted to write comic books. What made you change your mind and write a steampunk-zombie-romance-action novel?

I tried writing a few comic book scripts, but got overwhelmed by the comics industry, and I decided I had no chance. The big issue for me is that I'm so shy, and the idea of trying to find an artist to work with terrified me. I'd still love to write a graphic novel- maybe one of DEARLY? Or a book of side stories set in the same universe? I think that'd be so awesome!

About Zombies:
10. If you had to defend yourself against an attack from the Grays, what would be your weapon of choice, and which character from Dearly, Departed would you choose as back-up?

I'm going to go with a chainsaw- I feel like you need to get nice and personal with people who are trying to kill you. No idea why I feel this way. Too many Jason Statham movies? And I'm totally tapping... actually, I can't tap him, he's in book two (and in book two we don't even get into how dark he really is)! Okay, Bram.

11. Was it hard making a character who's a zombie into a love interest?

Not for me- I'm weird, and I embrace it! I've always loved monsters, and I love when monsters are used as heroes and love interests. It's just really interesting to me, in a visual sense, in a narrative sense. I have an irrational hatred of handsome princes. The trick was selling him to readers who aren't like me, though, and to do that I chose to emphasize his humanity, his nobility- I wanted those inner qualities to be so bright that his exterior didn't matter. That's how Nora loves him; hopefully that's how the readers grow to love him.  (Sara sidenote: They do!)

You can find out more about Lia at her website and blog!


  1. Oh, man! I have this on my shelf and I plan to read it just as soon as I get through a couple of other books. My main reason for wanting to do so? Bram, Bram, BRAM. Love zombies! Kind of going through a fetish, so, in other words, he's perfect for me! :)

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

  2. This was such a great interview, nice job! I LOVED Dearly Departed, and before this book I was really turned off by zombie books. Bram has since converted me:) I can't wait to read Dearly, Beloved when it releases!

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