Friday, February 3, 2012

Feature Friday: Lia Habel

For today's Feature Friday post we have the lovely, Miss Lia Habel.  Lia lives in the creepy part of New York.  No, not the West Side.  The OTHER part of the state.  Ya know, where the cows, abandoned barns, and banjo toting hillbillies are.  (I'm just kidding, I have family out there, so there's no hate)   Anyway, the point is: Lia is not a banjo toting hillbilly.  She's actually pretty darn cool.  Lia is one of those secret treasure type people.  She looks sweet and demure...Until you get to know her.  And then she only gets better.  She's my resident zombie expert, has more wigs than Cthulhu has tentacles, and is a highly respected fellow geek.  Plus, the girl writes a rockin' novel.

INTERVIEW: 

A.L.: 
What inspired you to write Dearly, Departed?

Lia:
Superficially, the entire thing started out as a joke. My friends and I wondered why paranormal guys always had to be smoldering and hot and brooding, and I started cracking jokes about "zombies need love too" - but then I said to myself, "Hey, they do. How would that work?" Soon the ideas started multiplying, and I was writing 10,000 words a day. But looking back at that period now, I also think I was attempting to craft a certain type of story - something to counter, just a little, all the books I'd been reading at the time. I wanted to create a hero with a gentle heart, a mouthy girl who was also reasonable, and monsters that looked like monsters.

A.L.: 
Do you see yourself in Nora?

Lia:  
I don't, actually. I see myself as a mixture of Bram and Vespertine, if you can imagine that. (She's not ALL bad. Wait for book two.) We do share a definite lack of height, but I decided to go that route because I have trouble identifying with tall characters. (I mistakenly made my avatar in Skyrim ungodly tall, and I grumble about it every time I turn on the stupid game. It feels wrong to me, since I'm used to being so small!) I think Nora's more open with her snark and opinions than I am. I tend to sit on mine. I see her as this little ball of energy pinging off of everything in her environment, whereas I'm more staid, at least around strangers.

A.L.: 
If you had to pick out an actress to play Nora, who would it be?  How about Bram and Pam?

Lia:  
In my head, I see Nora as Emily Browning - she has this beautiful baby face and breathy little voice. And there's a French actor named Gaspard Ulliel who'd be great for Bram. Pamela I'm always a little undecided on, because I'm not as familiar with actresses of Indian descent as I ought to be. I have some photos of Dilshad Vadsaria I use occasionally for inspiration.

A.L.: 
Alright, we have to ask, why zombies? And why zombie love?

Lia: 
More than zombies, I LOVE monsters and "hideous" characters. I grew up adoring them on a level that's hard to describe - I just always sided with them, always identified with them, and found myself naturally able to do complicated mental gymnastics to excuse all their monstrous foibles. As a tiny girl I wept buckets of tears for the Phantom of the Opera, loved Darkman to death (my intro to Liam Neeson!), and saw 'Beauty and the Beast' as the tale of a woman who stands by her soulmate even though he undergoes a disfiguring transformation into an utterly boring human. So when I tackle zombies, I'm bringing all of that. I can justify the hell out of them. I can find beauty in the weird things about them. And I thought it'd be an interesting challenge. 


As for zombie love, well...I view it as a temporal, and thus amazingly passionate thing (in contrast to how cold they are, I guess!). I think it's impossible for any self-aware zombie to lie about his condition, either to himself or others. I view them as extremely honest creatures - they literally wear every scar, every broken thing for the world to see. It's a total case of "take me as I am." And I guess I find something very attractive in that. It probably has a lot to do with my own personality - I'm like Nora in that I'd totally take 3 amazing years over an eternal "happily ever after." There's something about the idea of immortality that gives me the chills.

A.L.: 
Do you think there will ever be a happy ending for zombies?

Lia:  
It depends on your definition of "happy ending." I think living life to the fullest, a relationship to its fullest, even if you have to say goodbye at the end...that's happy, to me. Because that's what real life is like.

A.L.:
What are you working writing right now?

Lia:  
I just handed in some more edits on the Dearly sequel, so now I'm going back to some projects I'm writing for fun. I always have to have something I'm working on just for me. They both involve monsters, but I'm not telling!

A.L.: 
Are you planning another series?

Lia:  
Honestly, I don't think I'm cut out for series - or if I am, I can only do one at a time. It's just too exhausting, even though I love the characters. So I don't have anything planned just now, no.

A.L.: 
What’s the number one book you recommend someone read?

Lia:  
If you're into the whole "death and more death" thing like me, I love Thomas Lynch's 'The Undertaking.'  He's a mortician and poet, and he writes beautifully about his work. Parts of the book are blackly hysterical, too.

A.L.: 
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Lia: 
Write what you want, and ignore everyone else. The one thing that really gets my back up is talk of "trends" in publishing - I honestly don't think that applies anymore, not with the vast amount of self-published material out there, not with the thousands of books produced every year by traditional press, not with the millions and billions of diverse readers. When I hear people sniff, "Oh, no one's buying dystopian anymore," I want to scream, because I always imagine someone out there sighing and shelving their dystopian work - when it was the most brilliant thing since 1984. Honestly, if I'd known anything about writing or publishing before producing D,D, I wouldn't have written it. Earplugs and blinders and insanity, people. That is how it's done. 

A.L.:  
 Are any of your characters modeled off of anyone or anything that you’ve experienced in the past?

Lia:  
No, not purposefully. My mom keeps asking me to put her in, but I'd probably turn her into a zombie and then she'd yell at me and throw shoes.

Lia Habel
Web: http://liahabel.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/liahabel
FB: http://www.facebook.com/lia.habel


THE GIVEAWAY!
Lia has sent me both a hardcover edition and an audiobook of her novel, Dearly, Departed.  They are AUTOGRAPHED!  PLUS, she sent me some fun swag!  The contest for Lia's gifts will be featured in the Follower Love Giveaway Hop running from February 7-February 14, so please make sure you stop back here and enter yourself in a chance to see why love conquers all!

Dearly, Departed: 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.

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.

In Dearly, Departed, 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.

Read reviews on Goodreads.  Can't wait to buy it?  Go get it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.