Hello my lovely friends! If you remember, a while back, I did some touring for this book. I was supposed to have an author interview, but due to technical difficulties, we missed it. So today I had the author over for that interview :) the giveaway for the previous post is still going on and those details will be at the bottom of this post :) Now, on with the show!!
WELCOME MS TERRI!!! First, tell me a little about your book ….
Hereafter is a contemporary fantasy about a woman stuck on earth as a ghost, searching for a way to cross over to the afterlife. Here’s the official blurb:
“Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn’t plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex…well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.
This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The only problem is that, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option…”
Hereafter was SO much fun to write! The two main characters have this great squabbling rapport—like a brother and sister; the dialog pretty much wrote itself and I never knew what was going to come out of the characters’ mouths. However, there are also touching moments that pushed me to be a better writer than I ever had been before in order to do those scenes justice. Best of all, I did a LOT of research on afterlife mythology for this book, which is one of my favourite topics, and so I learned a lot while writing Hereafter as well. My head is now crammed full of the most useless array of mythology and obscure traditions ever! I should have a t-shirt for parties that says something like, “Ask me about the afterlife!”
How do you choose when/which characters die in your books?
LOL – well, on the one hand, Hereafter is about the afterlife so pretty much everyone is dead in the book. But, in general, I don’t know that I actively chose to kill off characters. That’s just how the story goes/is—that is, I would never kill a character just to make a good story or add a plot twist. It has to real and organic to the story.
When it’s clear a character has to die, I usually try to fight it—I hate losing characters that I like! Usually the characters win the argument, though, and are like “you know this has to happen.” But I agonize over the decision. Books four and five of the Hereafter series are going to be VERY hard in this respect (hint, hint).
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
The second best thing about being an author (the first being meeting all the wonderful people in the world who love books!) is meeting other authors; as such, I’m being introduced to so many wonderful new authors, many of whom are, sadly, not widely known. For a long time the only contemporary fiction I was reading was Young Adult stories like Harry Potter and Hunger Games and literary fiction—all the genre fiction in the bookstores all seemed very cookie cutter (just the same plots and characters over and over). However, lately, I’ve been introduced to the work of some amazing authors who have renewed my faith in contemporary genre fiction—Janet Walters, Teresa Fendley, Chelsea Cameron, Sally Franklin Christie, and James Hutchins. I have a ton more authors on my “to read” list so look to see that list grow.
Who do you look up to as a writer?
Oh I look up to most everyone—I feel so new and like I still have so much to learn. I pretty much love and admire any author who can make me laugh or cry. Satire, laugh-out-loud comedy, and slapstick are all very hard to do, and do well, as is genuine heart-break. My goal is to someday learn how to write like that, to write a book that moves people either to laughter or to tears. I want, more than anything, to write a book that touches people and stays with them for a long time after they finish reading it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I’m so thrilled with Hereafter and love how it turned out. It was absolutely the book I wanted to write, so I would say no, I wouldn’t change anything. Now, if someone points out some kind of huge continuity error that got missed, I will definitely regret that and wish I could change it. ;-) And certainly, when I look back five years from now, my skills as a writer will have grown and I will probably see many things I wish I had done differently, but as of right now, this was the best book I could write and I’ve very happy with it.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Oh everything! If I was a Muppet, I’d be Don Music—the guy who is trying to play the piano and keeps banging his head on the keys, moaning, “I’ll never get it! Never! Never!” I struggle to get emotions on the page—to show not tell and make them vibrant, to make them real. I struggle with “crowd scenes”—where multiple characters are in a scene together. Where is everybody in relation to everybody else? How do I give a sense of chaos and movement and the idea that everybody is talking over each other? In the second book of the series, I have a couple of fight scenes. Oh man, are they hard! How do I convey a sense of the physicality of it, without it sounding like a transcript of a role playing game: “Bam! X hit Y in the jaw.” “Kaboom! Y dives out of the way.” And in the second book of the series, I have my first real sex scene, which I’ve never written before and I blushed the entire time. You know—you’re using euphemisms, which sort of makes it feel like you’re doing something wrong/talking about something taboo, and it feels sort of voyeuristic in a weird way, plus you start sounding very cheesy, and hence the embarrassment. I’m writing stuff like “He put his man meat into her love cave” (okay, maybe not that bad, but you know what I mean) and I’m like “I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth—what the hell am I writing?!” I can see why so many romance writers use a pen name—all I kept thinking was, “My husband, my sister, my father, my boss, etc. are all going to read this” and then I get embarrassed all over again
What book are you reading now? Or what genre?
At the moment I’m reading “The New Death and Other Tales” by James Hutchins (a total serendipity find that I’m LOVING), a couple of books by fellow Eternal Press authors about ghosts, and I’m re-reading The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner because I don’t remember it very well and wanted to read it again.
Who designed the cover? And do you help with them?
The amazing Amanda Kelsey designed my cover (didn’t she do an AMAZING job?!). She nailed the concept on the first try—I asked for a couple of tweaks to the title font and for her to make the original design a little more “ghostly” (so she added the light behind Irene, which was perfect). Other than that, it was all her.
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
Oh, every book is an adventure. I’m learning not only technical/writing skills, but also learning subject matter/content related stuff as well. I hope that my writing skills are improving with every book I write, but at the same time, I’m also attempting new things, and so there is learning that happens there. As I mentioned previously, in the second book I’m attempting both sex and fight scenes, which I’ve never done before, so I’m learning how to do that. Plus, for this series there is all the afterlife research. I’ve also started a sci-fi western and so I need to learn all about space travel, how guns work (and what kind of guns they might use in outer space) and also do some research on the Old West. So yes, writing always involves learning—usually learning about stuff you didn’t even know you needed/wanted to know!
If you could be one of your characters, who would you chose?
Well, Irene’s dead (and I don’t want to be dead) and Jonah’s fourteen (and I REALLY don’t want to be fourteen again) so I’m not really keen on being either of them. If I had to choose to be someone, I think I’d be Madame Majicka—she’s happy as a bug in a rug with herself, her life, even the world in general. She’s psychic, she can talk to both the living and the dead, she owns her own business, she’s her own person—friendly but she doesn’t put up with any crap, she’s got great hair, and a great sense of style. What more could I ask for?
Are there any books you think some of us should read, just because?
Oh, this one is tricky—of course there are books that I love and think everyone should read, but I find that when I recommend books to people, those people never like the books. Taste in books is so individual that it’s hard to say, “This is the book everyone must read.” But, having said that, I’ll give you the list of my top five recommended must-read books: The Once and Future King by T.H. White and Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson (tied for first), Contact by Carl Sagan, the God of Animals by Aryn Kyle, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, and The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery. I think these are all must reads because they are all thought-provoking books about right and wrong, faith, man’s place in the universe, and the nature of love and forgiveness. I feel like a better, deeper, richer person for having read them.
In non-fiction I would say What Cops Know by Connie Fletcher, Rough Justice by Michael Heilbroner, and anything by Jonathan Kozol (especially Savage Inequalities).
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I have readers?! OMG, hello fabulous people! I love you! In all seriousness, I have to say, to anyone who had read my work—thank you for giving me a chance and for spending some time hanging out in my imagination. I know you have a lot of choices, a lot of books competing for your time, and I’m glad you gave me a chance, even if my book ended up not being for you. If you do happen to like my books, then I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me. Thank you! Books have been such an important part of my life and it is my fondest wish that someday something I wrote will mean just as much to someone else.
Thank you so much Ms. Terri for coming back! I love having you over :)
Now for the giveaway info:
I WILL BE HOLDING THE GIVEAWAY FOR A FEW MORE DAYS!! If you are interested, you can see the post HERE… if you are interested in winning either a DIGITAL OR PRINT COPY of this book or any book from this author and you don’t want to go to the back post, you can also enter on this post… just leave a nice comment here on this post for me or Ms. Terri. :) I wish you all good luck! For those of you who already entered, you can leave a new comment for another entry :)
Good luck everyone, and happy reading! Later Gators!!