I am part of the Chautauqua Reading Council and each year we have a banquet for the members. This year we were oh so lucky to get Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed, to be the speaker at this event. She is a local, successful author and do you know what her debut novel is about? Zombies. Yeah! Zombies! No sparkles for this author!
Lia was a wonderful speaker. She has an amazing sense of humor that is portrayed when she talks. I am pretty sure I smiled through the whole thing. OK. I am 100% sure I smiled through the whole thing. She gave a run down of her life in school, pre-publishing, and what she is working on now.
She read a chapter of Dearly, Departed and while I have read the book, hearing her inflection, changed my take on Bram's and Nora's first encounter. On top of being a good story-teller, Lia is a wonderful singer. She sang during her presentation and my student Ryleigh and I were super impressed by this.
And, don't be jealous, but she read part of the sequel. We were the first group, not part of her writing circle to hear it. Her reference to the black plague (won't go into any more detail that) was chilling.
Here is the summary:
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.
Also, here is a picture of Lia and me. Yeah, I'm a fan. In closing, if you have not picked up this debut novel, add it to your TBR and get reading folks. I promise you will feel joy, a lot of heartbreak, an enlightening about a new culture, sorrow, the "funnies", and overall love and appreciation for steam punk and zombies.
Lia it was so wonderful to meet you!