Despite this promising start, Lia went on to live an unremarkable life. Although she entertained vague thoughts of one day writing (comic books, specifically), it was only her love of literature that compelled her to pursue her B.A. in English Lit from SUNY Buffalo. Afterwards, ever the generalist and lover of Old Things, Lia moved to the UK to attend the University of Leicester and get her M.A. in Museum Studies. Several scattered internships and jobs followed, but Lia was never able to obtain long-term, serious work in her chosen field. In order to support herself, she at different times worked as a makeup artist, retail clerk, envelope-opener, door guard, and substitute teacher. Success never seemed to be hers, and she wrote the first draft of Dearly, Departed while unemployed for the fifth or sixth time. She had all of $10 in her bank account when she received her first check for it.
Miss Habel currently still lives in Jamestown, with three former alley cats and far too many Victorian ball gowns. She enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (her goal is to watch every zombie movie ever made), and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books. She still hopes one day to run into the beautiful monster of her dreams, but would settle for the reincarnation of Vincent Price.
You can find Lia on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.
Lia was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions:
WPMP: What influenced you to become a Young Adult Author?
Lia:It's funny - I still don't consider myself a YA author, though the Dearly series is youth-focused and I'm currently working on a few other projects in a similar vein. I think that when I sat down to write Dearly, Departed I simply knew, sort of instinctively, that I wanted to tell a story that focused on young people. Nora's passion and her desire to fling herself whole-heartedly into a temporal relationship gets a lot of fuel from her being in that youthful, exuberant, "damn the consequences" stage, and she and the other young characters are poised to grow and learn so much throughout the entirety of the series - I think those are the main reasons, at the end of the day. But I see the Dearly series as multi-generational, because I refuse to push the adults to the wayside, and I think they're every bit as interesting as the young characters. (Of course, that could just be me talking!)
WPMP: Where do you typically write? Do you listen to music while writing?
Lia: I write in my bedroom, which is also my office. I can't write on a laptop, and I also can't write in public, so I'm sort of chained to my desk and iMac day after day. (I cannot wrap my head around the people who go to cafes to write - they're much more skilled than I am.) I tend not to listen to anything while writing - in fact, I require absolute silence, to the point of putting in earplugs. But I definitely craft huge playlists for my characters, and I will listen to instrumental music while taking notes or editing.
WPMP: What is your favorite outfit?
Lia: I haven't worn them yet, but I have two spring outfits I can't wait to wear out, and I can't choose between them! I have a cute mint green suit that I mean to wear over a white underskirt, and a lavender ball gown. I think sometimes jewel and gothic tones tend to dominate neo-Victorian fashion, so I'm trying to buck that trend by choosing pastels this season.
WPMP: How long did it take to have your first book published?
Lia: About two years - a year to sale, and then a year to publication. Traditional publishing moves at a glacial pace!
WPMP: How long does it take you to complete a manuscript?
Lia: I wrote the first draft of D,D in 45 days, and I wrote the first draft of D,B in 3 months. I try to get the first draft down as quickly as I can, while the ideas are fresh and raw - I liken it to finger painting, in a way. At that stage, I'm just filling up the page with blotches of color. But then revision tends to take forever, sometimes years, and up to six re-draftings. That's when I refine things, figure out what just won't work, tone down some of my more wild ideas.
WPMP: What is the best gift you ever received?
Lia: My mother bought me a beautiful white gold and diamond ring for my 21st birthday, and I wear it almost every day. Other than that, my Keurig machine - I'm a coffee addict!
WPMP: How do you decide on character’s names?
Lia: I will either consider a character's name totally insignificant (meaning that I don't want any special meaning, I don't really care what it sounds like, etc.) and so it'll change over and over again as I try to settle on one (that happened with a zombie girl in my latest book - she went from Sofia to Laura) - OR I will pick a name randomly out of the air, and later find out that it's totally perfect. The most striking example of this is probably Colonel Edmund Lopez. I picked "Edmund" out of thin air, and later came to find out that it means "rich protector" - which is precisely what he becomes in book two. Honestly, the best names are the randomly-decided ones. All of the dead teens were named that way.
WPMP: Do you ever suffer from writers block? How do you deal with it?
Lia: I try not to use the term "writer's block" - I prefer to say "I don't know what to write right now." That turns it into a problem I can solve, not something that's happening to me that I have no control over. (I think it was Dean Koontz who phrased it that way.) In that case, the solution lies in figuring out what I want to write! If I'm honestly stuck for how to proceed plot-wise, I usually end up writing "back room" scenes that will never make it into print, but offer me important information, regardless - stuff like "what are the adults talking about right now?" I think it's important to produce work every day, even if it's horrible work. You never know what might come from it.
WPMP: If we emptied your purse what treasures would we find?
Lia: About a pound of makeup - I'm a total makeup junkie - and ten Gothic Lolita keychains on a ring that contains one key.
WPMP: What authors inspire you?
Lia: My childhood authors - Conan Doyle, Leroux, Shelley, Alcott, the Brontes. Not only were they amazing at their craft, I just love the level of detail that went into their work, and some of the crazy things they came up with!
We want to give a big thanks to Lia Habel for her participation in this month's author spotlight! If you're new to her work, check out our 5 star review of Dearly, Departed.