Why Terri Bruce Wrote THEREAFTER
By paulinebairdjones on May 21, 2014
On the surface, my Afterlife series is about a thirty-six year old woman who dies and has to figure out how to navigate the afterlife. In the first book, she is stuck on Earth as a ghost. In the second book, she has crossed over to “the other side” but she’s stuck in Limbo. However, all of that really just serves as a backdrop for a much deeper story of a woman trying to figure out who she is and what really matters in life.
The idea for the Afterlife series came to me one day while I was driving (as so many ideas do); I thought about how different all the stories are of what happens to us when we die. If all the stories stem from some common story or belief, as so many myths and legends do, what might that original story look like? How could we reconcile all these different “truths” about what happens and all the various superstitions related to ghosts and how to bury the dead and such, and what would the afterlife look like if all the stories were true in some way?
I also wanted to write a story that didn’t feature love or a man rushing in to save the female main character. I wanted to write the story of a woman who suffers from the kinds of insecurities that many of us do and who has to save herself. She has to fix what’s wrong with her life not to please anyone else or to make her a suitable partner for someone but because she wants to, for herself.
I also wanted to write a story that features a couple of deeply unhappy people whose unhappiness is pretty much ignored by everyone around them because it’s masked by deflecting behaviors. It’s so easy to dismiss Irene as vapid or bitchy or self-centered, but in truth, those behaviors are all a reflection of her insecurity. Jonah is clearly depressed, possibly even suicidal, and everyone in the story pretty much ignores that (including Irene), in part because he masks it with belligerence. I think there is so much good we can do each other if we just stop to scratch below the surface, if we try to understand each other more and work to be kinder to each other. It’s something I know I struggle with and have to do better at. Writing Irene was a way for me to hold the mirror up to myself and say, if I was confronted with someone like this woman, would I have the patience Jonah has? Would I be able to dig below the surface and get to know her and discover her good qualities, or would I just dismiss her out of hand as “difficult”? If confronted with someone who I thought was depressed or suicidal, would I speak up and voice my concerns or would I second-guess myself and just keep quiet? The truth is, I don’t know what I would do in either circumstance, but through writing this story and keeping these thoughts in the forefront of my mind, I hope I’m moving in the right direction.
About the book:
Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either.
When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.
Boy, was she wrong.
She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.
As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.
Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.
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