Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, April 8, 2016

How Far Would You Go To Get Your Life Back? Whereafter (Afterlife #3) by Terri Bruce

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.


Published: March 15th, 2016
Cover Artist: Shelby Robinson – artwork 
Jennifer Stolzer – layout and design

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.

On Writing Difficult Choices

I’m so thrilled to be here today, celebrating the release of my third novel, Whereafter (Afterlife #3). This is the third book in my Afterlife series, which tells the story of a woman named Irene Dunphy who dies and must learn to navigate the afterlife as a ghost.

One of the key themes in the series is choices: Irene makes a lot of bad choices, there’s just no getting around it. At the beginning of the first book, Irene makes the choice to drive drunk, and she ends up dying because of it. It becomes clear that this is part of a pattern of bad decisions—as Irene mentions various past boyfriends, it becomes clear that she’s had a lot of bad relationships. Even her choice of friendships seems questionable—her friends let her drive drunk the night she died.

The character of Irene is very different from me. I don’t drink—at all. And I would NEVER drive impaired. I mean NEVER. I mean… No. Just… No. It’s not even a question. And yet, people do it. There are stories in the news every day of people driving under the influence and injuring (or killing) themselves or other people. How does this even happen? As a writer, I find it fascinating to write about people who think very differently from myself, because it gives me a chance to explore perspectives and ideas that are very different from the ones I hold. 

For example, on the other end of the spectrum, is the character of Andras, a twelfth-century Spanish knight that Irene meets in the second book. He’s very devout and religious. I am not. And yet, I know for many people, religion brings them comfort and support. So, once again, I had to be able to write about characters making choices or behaving in a way that is very different from myself, and the way I think and operate. I wanted to make sure that Andras was a real, fully-fleshed out person and not a caricature. I wanted his faith to be believable and sympathetic. 

In the third book, Whereafter, Irene encounters a woman named “Heru.” Heru is a servant in a rich man’s household. The rich man transfers responsibility for Heru to Irene as a gift/reward. Irene is horrified and immediately sets Heru free. Only—Heru doesn’t want to be free. Heru is honored to serve such an important person, and she believes that her service ensures her a place of honor in the afterlife. Plus, Heru has no other source of support—without Irene’s (and Andras’s) protection and support, she will be on her own in a very dangerous place and will likely be killed. This was a particularly difficult scene to write because I didn’t want to appear to be saying that I thought there was ever an instance where slavery is good or acceptable. However, I did want to show that when we make decisions FOR or ABOUT people rather than WITH them, then the “right” decision can still have negative consequences. 

While Irene has shown a lot of growth in the first three books of the series (of six), she still hasn’t quite learned this last lesson. In the second book, Irene makes the decision to cut off contact with Jonah—for his own good. It might be the right decision, but because she makes it pre-emptively and without discussing it with him, she actually makes the situation worse. Jonah is so angry at not having a say in this big decision that affects him, he becomes obsessed with finding Irene—just so he can give her a piece of his mind—which puts his life in jeopardy. 

On the flip side, people also keep making decisions for Irene. In the second book, her romantic partner issues an ultimatum that Irene either go where he wants to go or he’ll leave without her. There is no compromising. In Whereafter, Andras makes a difficult and irrevocable decision, pre-empting Irene’s ability to be noble and sacrifice herself for him, which makes her mad. She wanted to have the opportunity to do the right thing for once, and it was taken from her. For me, these are the kinds of choices and difficult decisions that are fun and interesting to write about—how do we negotiate difficult choices when they involve other people? For Irene, her personal journey is about learning how to make decisions in partnership with other people. Irene, in her soul, is a control freak—she likes to be in charge. The “loss of power” involved in making a decision in partnership with someone else is frightening to her. But if she never learns how to do that and never learns how to compromise, then how can she ever truly have an equal partnership/relationship with anyone? 

Will Irene ever get good at negotiating difficult decisions? Well, readers will just have to stay tuned and see! 


Andras grunted, the sound filled with suspicion. Irene bent down to tie her shoelace, as much to avoid eye contact as anything. When she straightened up, something in the distance caught her eye, shimmering like a mirage. She squinted, not sure she was really seeing what she thought she saw.

“You know, now might be a good time for you to tell me what it was like to live in a castle,” she said.

Andras shook his head, sadly, as if Irene had disappointed him. “You cling too much to the past. Forget the trappings of life. Free your mind from these longings, and so, free your soul. Only then will we be able to escape these shackles and enter Heaven to rest at the side of God.”

Why did he always have to argue about everything? “For God’s sake,” she said, exasperated, “just answer the question!”


Irene pointed to the hulking structure in the distance. “Because,” she said as Andras whirled around to see what she was pointing at, “correct me if I’m wrong, but that looks like a castle.”

“Wow!” Irene said, her eyes roving over the dark, crenellated structure hulking in the far distance. It gleamed dully, the color of burnt blood in a fading afternoon sun. “What the hell do you think that is?”

Andras grunted. “As you said—Hell.”

Irene frowned at him, but her lips quirked in amusement. “Why do you have to be so negative? It could just as easily be Heaven. God is supposed to live in a palace, right—the whole ‘my father’s house has many rooms’ thing? A castle is just a type of palace.”

Andras gave her a dry look. “Does that look like Heaven?”

Irene was on the verge of agreeing that the castle did not in any way look how she imagined Heaven when it shimmered, as if the fading sunlight had been redirected by mirrors. Light rippled across the castle’s surface and the dull, dark, burnt-blood color transformed into gleaming, bright, silver-white. Crisp white pennants flapped from the corners as if whipped by wind. Irene thought she could hear them snapping crisply.

Irene looked at Andras, and he looked at her. His expression made it clear that he had seen the same transformation she had. It was as if the building was trying to trick them into coming closer.

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).


Esther Gerdzen said...

Thank you for the giveaway :)

The Book Blitzer said...

I love the cover! Thank you for the chance to win. :)

Melissa Parkin said...

Definitely on my to-read list! :)

Beppe DM said...

Thanks for the giveaway!!!

Ree Dee said...

I love the cover. Thank you for the giveaway!

Roxanne said...

Being in that sort of purgatory would feel more like hell to me. I can't imagine.

Kathy Davis said...

This book sounds like an adventure, and very interesting.

dangerpatel said...

awesome. thanks for a chance :)

katieoscarlet said...

Sounds like a good read. Intrigued by what her sacrifice may be.

Judy Thomas said...

It sounds awesome and a great adventure too! Thanks

Stephanie LaPlante said...

This sounds awesome. I really want to know if she can achieve what she wants!

Wayne Lecoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bridgett wilbur said...

This book sounds great and I would love to read it. ty.

Wayne Lecoy said...

It would be great to win
a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
This book Whereafter by Terri Bruce
sounds like an interesting book.
I like the book cover.
I enjoy reading and discovering new authors
and i am going to look for this book.
Thank you for having this giveaway.

Dan Denman said...

I like the cover and description of the book. This sounds like a good story with interesting characters.

Chris Martinez said...

I love Irene's characterization! Great work.