Check out the list of tour stops to read excerpts, other interviews, and character interviews!
Whereafter Blog Tour Interview
Author Terri Bruce: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, today to talk about my latest book, Whereafter, the third book in my Afterlife series! I always love stopping by your blog and chatting with you and your readers!
Interview Questions from Laurie C.
Q1: Congratulations on the release of Whereafter, the third book about Irene Dunphy’s journey through the afterlife, which started with Hereafter and continued in the second book, Thereafter! How did you manage the problem of catching up readers who jump in on the third book without having read the first two?
A1: This is a really good question; I’ve tried to make each book in the series stand alone in the sense that readers don’t HAVE to read the previous books to be able to jump into the story and don’t HAVE to read the next book in the series to get a satisfying story. However, because each book builds on the previous one(s) and there is a lot of history of what has happened to the characters, at a certain point, it becomes burdensome to the story and to the reader for the author to try and work in all the back story. So, I carried forward the big, important chunks—who Jonah is and the status of his relationship with Irene; Samyel and who and what he is; how Andras and Irene met; etc. Whereafter picks up right after Book #2 (Thereafter), so it starts with Irene stepping off the boat in a new “land.”
Q2: How did the idea for these books come about?
A2: There’s kind of two parallel tracks that merged when I came up with the books—there was my interest in mythology and the origins of myths (and wondering how so many different descriptions of the afterlife could exist if they were all describing the same thing, and then there was the character of Irene who popped into my head one day. I knew off the bat she was dead and trying to deal with that, and I couldn’t imagine anyone more unsuited to being the main character of a deep, introspective story about coming to grips with death than Irene—which was kind of the point. She was totally unprepared to deal with this happening to her… like a lot of us are. If I died tomorrow and ended up a ghost, would I be ready to accept it and “move on?” Probably not.
Q3: The secret is out…Jonah is back! Tell us about the characters of Irene and Jonah…
A3: In writing the first book, Hereafter, Irene became so unable to deal with the situation (being dead, wrapping up her affairs, and navigating the afterlife) by herself that I had to give her some help—which is where Jonah came in. In trying to find the kind of person that could become Irene’s other half—her best friend and someone she could rely on—it became clear that Irene wasn’t really going to click/bond with a woman her own age (Irene isn’t really warm and fuzzy and doesn’t really open up to people, especially other women) or a man her own age (sex would get in the way/it would turn into a sexual relationship as a way for Irene to keep from getting too emotionally connected/intimate with the guy). At the same time, a little kid wouldn’t be right, either—Irene is not at all warm and nurturing and certainly doesn’t like kids or know how to deal with them. So what she needed was someone in between—someone old enough/mature enough to give her advice and to stand toe-to-toe with her when she’s being a brat and tell her to cut the crap, but at the same time, young enough that Irene wouldn’t feel threatened emotionally by any closeness and it wouldn’t turn into a sexual relationship. And that was Jonah… he was the perfect friend for her.
Unfortunately, Jonah can’t stay a kid forever. He’s growing up and that’s going to present some problems—in Hereafter, their friendship still wasn’t really equal. There were power dynamics (Irene could pull the “I’m an adult and you’re a children” power play when things weren’t going her way), and Irene still didn’t fully commit emotionally to the relationship—she held things back. Now that Jonah is getting older, he can demand full equality/power in the relationship. And Irene doesn’t like to give up any of the power in a relationship; she definitely likes to be in control at all times. So this is going to make things interesting… and awkward. It will be interesting to see if their friendship is able to survive and grow/mature or if it was one of things that only worked at that particular point in time. I think we’ve all had relationships like that in our lives—friendships or romantic relationships that only work in a particular time or place or with particular dynamics and that we then have to let go of later because they no longer work—or because we are unwilling to do what it would take to make it work.
Q4: The series isn’t paranormal romance or urban fantasy, but somewhere in between? How do you describe Whereafter and the other books in the series?
A4: I describe them as cross-genre works in the vein of The Night Circus, Peony in Love, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Her Fearful Symmetry, Neverwhere, or Cloud of Sparrows. They combine elements of fantasy, chick lit, and women’s fiction—with a dash of paranormal romance and a dash of urban fantasy
Q5: How do you keep track of your research into different beliefs and accounts of the afterlife? Do you have a system for remembering what you’ve already “used” in a book?
A5: The magic black binder! I purposely picked black as a nod to the “black book of the dead.” <g>
The binder is very large and contains all of my research; it’s sorted by culture/religion and there are notes and such. And when I use a myth in one of the books, I make a note so I don’t use that one a second time. Though, so far, it hasn’t really been a problem because beforehand, I had mapped out each book and knew which myths each “world” or “plane of the afterlife” would be built on. I throw in references to other myths as I go along to round out each plane and to keep anything from being a 1:1 comparison—I don’t want anyone to read one of the books in the series and go, “oh, that was just a copy of Greek mythology or Egyptian mythology.” Each one is a mash-up of a lot of different myths—but hopefully blended seamlessly so that it looks like the myths were all combined that way to begin with. My goal for the books is to try and imagine how it could be that all these different myths describe the same thing (the afterlife), so I’m approaching it like “The Blind Men and the Elephant” and going with an assumption that every afterlife myth we know is an explanation/description of PART of the afterlife and, therefore, all these myths so actually fit together (like a jigsaw puzzle).
Q6: New writers are often advised to write the kind of book they like to read. What books have influenced you as a writer?
A6: I love cross-genre works (the books I listed before are some of my favorites) and I also like books that can make me sob like a baby—The Sparrow, His Dark Materials trilogy, The God of Animals, The Once and Future King, things like that. So I try to write sad or tragic stories that are also beautiful and mythical and a bit magical.
Q7: You are active in the cosplay and S/F convention scene, I believe? Tell us about some of the things you do in addition to writing!
A7: I do not cosplay because I’m too shy to put myself out there like that. But I’m so jealous of people who do and I wish I was brave enough to try it. I do, however, go to a lot of SF/Fantasy conventions. I love them—I love interacting with other people who love the things I do—Farscape, Doctor Who, games like Dragon’s Age (I saw an amazing Isabella and an amazing Morrigan, both from Dragon Age, cosplays at Arisia this year!) and Jade Empire, and the like. I also love the panels—I always learn a lot about writing and about the trends in speculative fiction genres—and the energy and meeting up with people I only see at these cons and pretty much every part of a con.
Outside of that, my hobbies mostly are cooking and baking, quilting, and crocheting—homebody, solitary things, LOL!
Q8: You have been through some publishing difficulties. What’s one piece of advice you wish you had known or followed when you first started out to have a book published?
A8: I don’t think I could have done anything differently that would have helped me avoid those problems. Going into publishing/querying, I had done my research and knew what to look for, how to research publishers and agents, what to avoid, etc. Just, sometimes, bad stuff happens in publishing.
Instead, I think the one thing I wish I had known that no one tells you is to not seek to be published until you have several completed novels to sell, especially if you’re a slow writer, like me. I say this for a couple of reasons: the first is that if the first novel you shop around doesn’t sell, then at least you aren’t crushed/putting all your “eggs” in that basket and then devastated if it doesn’t sell (which can be discouraging and make writers want to give up instead of working on their next book) . Instead, you can just immediately start shopping another book. For another reason, once you release your first book, in order to continue building on your marketing momentum, it’s important to get books out quickly and regularly. If you already have them written and ready to go, then it’s easier to do that. And third, many publishers will contract for a two- or three-book deal and if you don’t already have something written and ready to go, now you have the pressure to produce another book very quickly, which is a lot of pressure.
Q9: The recently released Hereafter audiobook was narrated by Amy Martin, and it is wonderful! Will she be reading the other books, as well?
A9: I hope so! She and I haven’t talked about it yet, but I loved the job she did and she was great to work with. I didn’t cry while writing the book, but she made me cry listening to the audio book because she captured the emotions so well.
I’m a little worried, though, as she just revealed during the Whereafter online release party that she hates taking the Lord’s name in vain, and so, to get around that (because we all know Irene swears—a lot!!), she would record a full, regular sentence using God’s name (not in vain) and then she would edit out the extra words—which was a lot of extra work! Luckily, Book #2 features Andras, a pious and devoutly religious knight, so he balances out Irene’s blasphemy a bit. <g>
I want to thank you once again for letting me stop by and 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 posting a video blog (at 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!
Readers can also sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with all my latest news. In addition, I love interacting with people, so please feel free to email me or connect with me on Twitter!
2 $25 Amazon Gift Cards
About the Author
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. She is the author of the Afterlife Series, which includes Hereafter (Afterlife #1) and Thereafter (Afterlife #2) and several short stories including “Welcome to OASIS” (Dear Robot anthology, Kelly Jacobson publisher) and “The Well” (Scratching the Surface anthology, Third Flatiron Press).