Monday, May 12, 2014

Time Travel and the Afterlife Guest Blog and Giveaway with Terri Bruce

I’m really excited to be here today, talking about my latest book, Thereafter. Thank you so much for having me Roxanne!

In Hereafter, the first book in my Afterlife Series, Irene and Jonah enter a bar that caters to ghosts. While I was writing the first draft, I had some trouble with the scene—it felt boring. It was just a bunch of ghosts sitting around talking about being dead. Finally, it struck me—it was boring because all of the ghosts were contemporaries; that is, they were all from the 21st Century. It suddenly occurred to me that the ghosts in my story could be from any point in history. In that moment, I realized that my story wasn’t just a ghost story—it was also a time travel story.

The ghosts featured in Hereafter were limited, however, by the realistic expectation that they would most likely be limited by geography. That is, you might find one or two ghosts far from home, but most would probably stick close to the place they were from. This meant I was limited to the kinds of people who had lived in the Boston area most of their lives and also limited by the history of Boston itself, which has a much shorter history of being inhabited than say, the Mesopotamia region. So while this gave me some historical characters to work with, it was still rather limiting.

However, when I got to Thereafter, I realized the sky was the limit; the ghosts here could be from any time and place in history. The hardest part of Thereafter became picking what time periods I wanted to feature. I could have ancient Greeks and Romans and Celts and Eskimos and Saxons and Vikings and Babylonians and Aztecs and Mayans and Samurai and Isaac Newton and Henry I and on and on and on. Unfortunately, as much fun as this was, the story started to become a series of vignettes, with Irene wandering from time period to time period, culture to culture (sort of an afterlife version of Dora the Explorer), which wasn’t really what the story was about. I ended up jettisoning a lot of the secondary characters I had brought in—including the Chinese philosopher Gao, who got relegated to a tiny bit part because I couldn’t bear to part with him completely—in order to focus the story back onto Irene’s journey and her relationship with the other main characters: Jonah, Andras, and Ian.

When Irene gets to the river and walks through the various layers of history, the reader gets a sense of how vast and diverse all of the history that has gone before us really is. How amazing if we all end up in the same afterlife together! One could spend all of eternity learning about the past (and the future), and this presented a new, interesting dilemma for my characters: eventually those who have died will encounter people from opposing faiths, cultures, and ideas. They will also be faced with the future—for instance, how will men from the Middle Ages deal with 21st century women? The proposition was too intriguing to pass up touching on at all, so I delved into the dynamic tension that might arise from such a situation, but, believe me, I didn’t go into nearly as deeply as I wanted to. In the original version of the story, in addition to Gao, there was a Viennese philosopher named Martin who loved that the dead were all stuck at the river because it afforded him the opportunity to study people from throughout history. When Irene finds a way for them to get across, Martin actually sabotaged her plan, because he didn’t want the dead to disperse. Later, to save characters and simplify the plot, Gao became the saboteur. For various reasons, that plot line didn’t work out and I ended up jettisoning it all together.

I hope when you read Thereafter that it gets you thinking about all the different time periods in history and what it might be like to meet people from throughout all of history. Exciting, but a little scary, too, right? What time period or culture would you most look forward to meeting people from?
Book 2
Terri Bruce

Genre: Contemporary fantasy/paranormal

Publisher: Mictlan Press

Date of Publication: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9913036-2-5 (print) /
ISBN: 978-0-9913036-3-2 (ebook)

Number of pages: 318
Word Count: 99,000

Cover Artist: Artwork by Shelby Robinson;
cover layout by Jennifer Stolzer

Book Description:

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.


Her hand touched a rock, one of the flat beach stones she’d seen on graves. She picked it up, laying it flat in her palm. She didn’t remember picking this up. In fact, she had been careful not to take any. It had seemed disrespectful and too much like stealing to remove them, and while she’d seen a few here—both loose and piled in cairns—she hadn’t picked any of them up. There had been no point. What would she do with a rock?
No wonder her bag was so heavy.
She tossed the rock over her shoulder and heard it hit the ground with a satisfying thud some distance away. It felt good to be rid of something, to make a decision and be sure it was the right one.
She surveyed the pile again and then grabbed a small handful of paper animals. She picked one up between a finger and thumb. It was a horse. Irene had been in Chinatown during Chinese Ghost Festival, a holiday in which the living left offerings for the dead. These offerings included paper replicas of things people thought the dead would need in the afterlife—money, clothes, television sets, and even animals. Irene had admired the precise and delicate folds of the Origami figures and had picked some up to admire them more closely. Without thinking, she had dropped them into her bag and apparently been carrying them ever since.
Well, even Jonah couldn’t argue with her on this—there was no way she was going to need a paper horse on her journey through the afterlife. Plus, these didn’t hold any sentimental value. She cast the horse onto a nearby fire and watched as the paper curled and blackened in the low-burning flames.
The fire leapt and seemed to glow blue for a moment. Irene tensed—what was happening?
Thick black smoke began to rise slowly from the flames, spiraling upward in a thickening column. The smoke grew denser and then elongated sideways. Irene leapt to her feet and backed away, her heart pounding. Something was forming in the fire.
The smoke was taking shape now; there was purpose and design in its movements. She could see a long, horizontal back, four legs, a neck, and finally a head and a tail. The smoke swirled with a final flourish and then shuddered into the solidity of a smoke-colored horse. The animal blinked passively. Then it violently shook its head, blew out a breath, and delicately picked its way forward out of the fire. It immediately put its head down and began to lip the ground, looking for food.
Irene stared stupidly at it. “Are you shitting me?”

About the Author:

Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember. 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.

Amazon Author Page:

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May 9 Spotlight
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May 14 Review and Spotlight
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bn100 said...

Interesting book

Elisabeth said...

This books sounds great! I love that Terri lives in a haunted house.