I’ve got something very cool for you today! A blog tour of the new book out from Terri Bruce – a contemporary fantasy with a paranormal twist.
Check out the exciting blurb for the new book in the Afterlife series;
How Far Would You Go To Get Your Life Back?
Stuck in the afterlife on an island encircled by fire and hunted by shadows bent on trapping them there forever, Irene and Andras struggle to hold onto the last vestiges of their physical selves, without which they can never return to the land of the living. But it’s not just external forces they’ll have to fight as the pair grow to realize they have different goals. Irene still clings to the hope that she can somehow return to her old life—the one she had before she died—while Andras would be only too glad to embrace oblivion.
Meanwhile, Jonah desperately searches for a way to cross over to the other side, even if doing so means his death. His crossing over, however, is the one thing that could destroy Irene’s chances of returning home.
Too many obstacles, too many people to save, and the thing Irene most desperately wants—to return to her old life—seems farther away than ever. Only one thing is clear: moving on will require making a terrible sacrifice.
So with no further ado, here’s my interview with Terri Bruce to commemorate the release of Whereafter — the long awaited third book in the series.
Thank you so much for letting me stop by today to talk about my latest book, Whereafter!
Whereafter is the third book in the Afterlife series, which tells the story of a woman named Irene Dunphy who dies and has to learn to navigate the afterlife as a ghost.
How did you become fascinated by the idea of the Other Side? What made you want to write about it?
Actually, my fascination is more with mythology and the origins of myths. My husband and I, when we first met, bonded over Arthurian literature (stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table). We ended up creating an encyclopedia of the people, places, and things that appear in every story written about King Arthur from 450 AD to 1350 AD (yes, we did this for fun/as a hobby ). During the course of that project, we found that not only could you trace stories back through time to their origins, but you could also learn a lot about the world at each stage of the journey. If Author A, writing in France, writes the first known story about a topic and then a story about that same thing pops up in Italy, then we know that France and Italy had contact during that time—maybe through war, maybe through diplomacy (royal marriage), maybe through trade routes. Whatever it is, we know that these two countries had contact. Now imagine that Author A writes the first story, and then Author B in Italy copies it but makes a typo—maybe he accidentally changes one of the character’s names from James to Jason. If the story then pops up in Turkey with that character still named James, then we know that Turkey got the story Author A. However, if the Turkish version has the name Jason, then we know they got it from Author B in Italy. And thus, we can watch the progression of stories from one place to another and watch how they change. This, to me, is very fascinating. So then I became interested in doing something similar with afterlife mythology, mainly because there’s so much variation and yet, in theory, it’s all describing the same thing. So these stories have definitely mutated over time and I wanted to trace back to the originals.
How do you go about choosing the names of your characters?
I don’t know… they just sort of come to me. Sometimes if I’m trying to find a name of a particular style (an “old-fashioned” name for instance) or something different and unusual or a name of a particular ethnicity or culture then I’ll search baby name web sites. However, most of the time, the characters just tell me their names… I sort of just know. Irene and Jonah—I knew their names right off the bat. Irene’s mother’s name, the names of the ghosts Irene meets in Boston in the first book, and Andras’ name all took some research/thought. Every once in a while I’ll sneak the name of a friend or family member into my stories, though—as a tribute or inside joke. Some of Irene’s mother’s neighbours in Hereafter are named after my sister and my best friend, for instance.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I don’t think this count as strange because a lot of writers do them, but I tend to write a lot while I sleep. I imagine a scene or storyline that I might be having trouble with as I’m falling asleep—imagining it out almost like a movie. If I do that, then usually, when I wake up, I have the answer to whatever is wrong or stumping me. Often that answer comes to me in the shower, so I spend a lot of time running through the house, dripping wet, looking for paper to jot notes down on before I forget them!
What authors inspired you to write (if any)?
I’ve always written, ever since I was a kid, so I wasn’t influenced to write by any authors. But, certainly, there have been many books that have influenced my life: T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” was one of the most impactful books I have ever read. I read it once a year around my birthday just to remind myself that the struggle to be noble and good is worth it. Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” influenced my social-political views, “The Little Prince” influenced my life philosophy, and Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” has helped guide me in being my attempts to be the best version of myself.
What is the biggest obstacle you face when writing?
The story doesn’t always flow easily for me. I don’t understand people who can write a story in a month or three months or whatever. It takes me a year to get a complete draft down. Virginia Woolf once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That’s me in a nutshell. The words often come slowly and painfully and it’s a really frustrating process to get a complete story that makes sense down on paper. When it’s going well and the story is moving along, writing is very satisfying. When it’s not going well and the words are stuck or feel like they are fighting me—it’s very frustrating.
Have you incorporated real life experiences into your books?
There’s so much real life stuff in my books! Irene’s recollection of her death by drowning is actually my memory of the experience. I nearly drowned when I was six and I’ve never forgotten it. Jonah depression is taken from my own experiences and my own struggles as a teenager of feeling like a misfit and being a lonely, nerdy outsider. In Whereafter, Jonah has a very emotional scene where he tries to describe why he’s suicidal and why he’s so desperate to find Irene, who he’s kind of pinned all his hopes of not being so lonely on, and all of that is taken from my own feelings and memories from that age.
In addition, many of my characters are drawn from actual history. All of Andras’s background and history is taken from historical research. Even though he is a fictional character, his family is real, the religious order he belonged to is real, the holding of Ucles is real, and the history of the battle of Alarcos in 1195 is all real. In Book #2 (Thereafter), Ian’s history and background are all real, though he himself is fiction.
The Chinese philosopher Irene and Ian meet was a real person. There are actually a lot of hidden, real life people in the series. I do a lot of research and try to find real life people that match the characters I need/want for particular scenes. And in those cases where I don’t use a real person, I invent a person but I make all of their life circumstances as realistic as possible—such as Amy in Hereafter. She is not a real person, but her profession, where she lived (a boarding house in Boston’s South End), the way she dressed, the way she speaks, her social and political views, her slang/vocabulary, and even the names of streets she references are all historically accurate for the time period in which she would have lived. LOL—sometimes I feel like my Afterlife series is historical fiction masquerading as fantasy.
How do you cope with three cats, when (presumably) you only have two hands? Isn’t one of them always miffed at you?
Well, one of them hates me, so that makes things easier . That cat is named Pooka and she is the model for the little black and white cat that leads Irene through the afterlife in the series. That cat is the most un-catlike cat I’ve ever had. When I went to the shelter to look at cats, she was very pushy—pushed the other cats out of the way and took ownership of me. I kept trying to set her aside because she looked EXACTLY like the cat I had just had to put to sleep (which had devastated me) plus I was there to look at a different cat. Pooka wasn’t having it and she made it clear I was taking her home. I gave in and adopted her. I brought her home, she walked in the house like she owned it, got up on the coffee table, spread out like she was queen of the manor, and that was that. She owns the house, and my presence is merely tolerated. She never meows or “talks” in any way. When I talk to her she looks at my feet—she never looks me in the face or eye (most cats look at you when you talk to them and some even tilt their head like they’re trying to figure out what you’re saying, but not Pooka. She doesn’t care that the human is talking). She hates to be petted (she seems to find it condescending) and as for holding her or having her sit in my lap—oh heck no! She does like my husband, however. She’ll sit near him when he’s in his office working. But that’s really the only human interaction she tolerates.
If you were a superhero, what would your name be? And your power?
I really want the power to set stuff on fire. Or something like Force Choke… which I suspect means I would not, in fact, be a superhero, but, instead, be a super villain.
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
I‘m torn, because I love cats and would love to be one, but otters always look like they are having fun. Seriously, have you ever seen a sad looking otter? (Echo Says: Never! Also, cat or otter is basically my answer to this question too :P)
Thanks for dropping by to share some of your process (and humouring the more random questions!)
I want to thank you once again for letting me stop by to chat about Whereafter. For those that love afterlife mythology or want to learn more about the Afterlife series, during the month of April, I will be participating in the “A to Z Blogging Challenge,” and every day, I will be posting a video blog (at http://www.terribruce.net) in which I reveal all of the hidden references to afterlife mythology and “Easter Eggs” in the series. I encourage everyone to stop by each day and check out the videos! You can also sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with all my latest news. In addition, I love interacting with readers, so please feel free to email me or connect with me on Twitter.
Will you be picking up a copy of Whereafter by Terri Bruce? (Find it on Amazon now) Is this a genre that you’ve read before or is this your first time coming across it? Let me know in the comments!