Dystopian December - Lia Habel!

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Interview with Lia Habel!

Why did you decide to write dystopian fiction/post-apocalyptic fiction?

A lot of people describe my work as dystopian, but I tend not to view it that way--I simply see my world as the result of the particular events I chose to inspire it. A part of history, albeit a weird one. Human existence has seen thousands of tribes and nations rise and fall, all of them diverse and wonderful; the world of fiction has nothing on reality. The other day I heard someone describe America as "the greatest nation to EVER exist" and I was like, "Um...Rome? Rome was pretty damn amazing. What about the Mayans? Or China?" Human societies take many forms. And heck, part of my reaction to the term "dystopian" is purely personal--I like the idea of living in a futuristic Victoriana! I mean, it's better than Airstrip One, come on!

When it comes to the post-apocalyptic setting, though--just as I tend to look at zombies and see them as creatures of strength rather than horror, I tend to envision the apocalypse as a time of rebirth rather than total destruction. I chose such a setting because I needed a world where the human slate had been, if not wiped clean, heavily erased. I wanted a time and place where I could build fresh. It's dark, but killing off the majority of humanity and altering the globe makes that a whole lot easier.

What, or who, has been the biggest influence in your writing?

I grew up reading historic novels, and I always turn back to them for inspiration. My second book, Dearly, Beloved has a little homage to Jekyll and Hyde in it, and Victor Dearly is named after Victor Frankenstein. I'm always trying to hint at the dark, decadent atmosphere I enjoyed in those books while growing up, while still spinning it in a sci-fi direction. Additionally, I get a ton of inspiration from music, and have vast playlists for each book and almost every character. Music pulls me out of my brain's logic loop and gets me thinking in terms of emotion and action. It's also great for dreaming up visuals--almost like creating a movie trailer or music video for myself. In a movie trailer, you might get a brief glimpse of a character that makes you wonder, "Ooh, who's she?" The same thing happens in my mind.

Tell us a little bit about Dearly Departed and the Dystopian world you have created.

My world is set in the future, where a society formed of remnants from various fairly conservative groups--militias, armies, religious groups, etc.--has branded itself as "New Victoria." The use of the word "new" is important, as they do not seek to painstakingly replicate the Victorian past, but build upon it using high technology and the accumulated knowledge of centuries. They use holograms to flesh out their fanciful buildings, email and cell phones to gossip about high-society scandal, and advances in science such as gene therapy to benefit the populace. Ultimately, however, an opposing group appears from within the ranks--the Punks. The Punks view NV society as decadent, wasteful, and unconcerned with the nobility of humanity. They prize analog tech, artisans who make things with their hands, and private industry. Eventually, following a series of protests, the Punks are kicked out and end up forming their own society, with disputes continuing over the border between.

Into this setting, I inject zombies--some of which manage to keep their minds after reanimation. What follows is a story about star-crossed love (between my living heroine, Nora, and my dead hero, Bram), issues of authenticity and identity, and general carnage.

What do you think our future is going to be like? Can you see any similarities in the world
that you’ve created and our world today?

I do believe we're on the cusp of a great change in society--what form that change will ultimately take, I really don't want to speculate. I'm not doomsday-minded; I think humanity is fully capable of addressing the issues plaguing the planet today. I think we'll persevere. I will say that I think the neo-Victorianism in my story, born of social conservatism, is pretty realistic. There really are people out there, especially in North America, who see the past as a sort of golden age and attempt to replicate aspects of it it in their modern lives. (I'm not talking about steampunks and other anachronists; I'm talking about religious and social movements.) If they were ultimately isolated with others who thought similarly, and given enough time and just a dash of humor and cultural liberalism...I can totally see them coming up with something like New Victoria.

What will you be doing come December 21st? And if you survive? (Assuming, of course, it’s
the end of the world!)

I think it'll be a day like any other day, frankly. I'm not worried, and I'm not making any special plans. I do have a lone cigar, though, that I was given at a wedding--if the sky starts burning, I'll whip that thing out. Never smoked in my life. Would seem like a good time to start.

What would be your favourite dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel?

I'm going to go for full-on shudders, here: The Handmaid's Tale. That book scared the hell out of me the first time I read it, because I could completely envision it happening. Especially given the recent uptick in anti-female sentiment in the US, where I live...graaah. I don't want to think about it. It's too terrifying. And yet, now I'm tempted to read it again....

Author Links:

Website - Blog - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads -

Dearly, Beloved - 
Lia Habel
Released: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Del Rey

Synopsis: Can the living coexist with the living dead? 

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.

Other book in the series:

Win a signed copy of Dearly, Beloved - US Only!

Claire Blennerhassett

Reader, Blogger

Twenty-something | book-blogger | tea-drinker | procrastinator | wannabe-writer | student

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed Dearly,Beloved it topped the first book which I had a hard time getting through. Great Interview btw! I totally agree about The HandMaid's Tale that book is super creepy.


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