1. Tell me about your book, HEREAFTER, and where you got your inspiration for it?
“Hereafter” is about a woman, Irene Dunphy, who dies and ends up stuck on Earth as a ghost. The story follows both her search for a way to “cross over” to the afterlife and to come to terms with the mistakes she’s made in her life. Of course, that makes it sound like a serious drama, but it’s not; it’s really more “fantasy lit” with elements of comedy and adventure as well as the serious elements.
As for the inspiration for it...I’m not a fast writer—Hereafter took two years to write and then eight months of querying to find a publisher—so I hardly remember where the inspiration came from. However, most of my story ideas come about the same way: I get a sudden flash or mental picture of a character doing something—like changing a tire—or maybe having a conversation with another character. I always start with the characters, not a plot or a concept. Then it builds from there—well, who is this person? Why are they changing that tire? What are they feeling at this moment or how do they talk?
2. Where do you gain your inspiration/ideas from in general?
A lot of ideas just come to me, usually when I’m day dreaming. However, specific inspiration – for how a character looks, or speaks, or a bit characters, et cetera—can come from the strangest places. I recently blogged about this fabulous edition of “Ivanhoe” I found in a second hand shop. It was published in 1928 by a consortium of drug stores and every five to ten pages there are ads for drug store products—tooth powder, rash creams, liver pills, stomach upset relievers, and the like. These ads teleported me back and time and I knew I had to have some characters from that time period in my novel. So, really, inspiration can come from anywhere.
3. Was there ever a time when you nearly gave up on becoming an author?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, but people convinced me that writer’s don’t make any money—and also that making a lot of money was a good thing—so I gave up the idea, decided to become a lawyer. I actually ended up going into the non-profit field, instead (which means I still ended up not making a lot of money). However, through all of that I wrote—in high school I wrote serialized fiction I passed out to my friends. In college wrote fan fiction.
Then in 2000 I came home from a bad day at work, walked in the house, sat down at the computer and started typing a novel that had popped into my head. It was unlike anything I had ever written—my husband said I seemed to be channelling Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard—and I remember when I finally stopped for the night, looking at what I’d written and thinking “Hey, this is good—like ‘real’ novel good.” I worked on that story off and on for five years and then finally decided I needed to get serious. So I joined a local writers’ group.
It took another four years to finally finish the novel. I started querying it and realized it was really ”experimental fiction” and wasn’t a commercial project—and therefore not likely to get picked up. I had started my next novel, which was “Hereafter,” and I know that was much more commercial. So I labored over that for two years. Then I started querying—and got rejection after rejection after rejection. SEVENTY rejections before I ever got a single request from an agent or publisher. I wanted to give up every single time I got a rejection. However, the support of my family and friends, and other writers going through the same tribulation, kept me going. The more time went by, though, the more I wanted to give up. Everyone says to focus on your next book, and I was, only it was the sequel to “Hereafter” and I wasn’t seeing much point. If Book 1 never got published, what was the point in writing Book 2?
Then, just when it seemed all hope was lost (I only had about another ten prospects on my query list) I started getting requests—and genuine interest—from both publishers and agents, and then there was a bit of a whirlwind, and next thing I knew, I was a “soon-to-be-published” author!
4. How do your family feel about you being a writer/author?
My family is thrilled—my dad is so proud and my sister, who is a librarian, is very excited. What’s very sad is that some of my biggest fans—my uncle, Nelson, who was an incredible reader and lover of books, my mother—who would have been so incredibly proud of me, and my mentor, Charles Groskey, have all passed away (2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively, all from cancer). We have a motto in my family: cancer sucks. As you can imagine, I’m a passionate advocate for cancer research, prevention, and treatment programs.
5. Who is your favourite character/s you’ve created?
I LOVE Jonah. I am so proud of him. He’s just so sweet and loveable. It’s terrible, he’s only 14, but I have the biggest crush on him. I also like Irene in many ways—she doesn’t pull her punches. I bite my tongue a lot, but Irene is never afraid to speak her mind. I wish I could be more like that.
6. What’s your next project? What do you look forward to in the future?
Well, the sequel to “Hereafter” is almost done. I’m really excited by this next book and hope that fans of Irene and Jonah will be, too. I love working on the “Hereafter” books because the afterlife mythology research is so fascinating. There’s just so many interesting possibilities for what Irene might encounter in The Great Beyond.
I also have an outline for a sci-fi western romance, another contemporary fantasy (this time about super heroes), and a straight historical fiction (yes, weird, but it focuses on the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, an event that I have close ties to (I work in Lawrence, MA), so I have a lot of irons in the fire.
7. Where would you like to go if you had a time machine?
Okay, this is going to sound totally weird, and I want to preface this by saying I’m not a doubter in general—I believe in global warning, vaccines, cholesterol, the whole nine yards. I put my faith in modern science. BUT, having said that, I totally want to go back to ancient Egypt because I am sceptical that we really know anything about their culture based on what we’ve interpreted from hieroglyphs and such. How do we really know that such-and-such female pharaoh tried to make herself look like a man to add legitimacy to her reign? Maybe the stone carver just wasn’t very good? Maybe he was trying to insult her? Maybe she really was ugly. I don’t know, but it all seems suspect to me and so I’d love to know the real story.
8. What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?
Afternoon tea! I love to drink tea, I love to collect tea related items—such as tea cups and old tea tins, and I love entertaining. I finally realized there was no point to just collecting china and glassware for the fun of it, those things should be put to use! So every Sunday I brew myself a pot of my favourite tea using an old fashioned china teapot and use one of the tea cups from my collection to have afternoon tea. I set out a tea tray and something scrumptious to eat, I get a book or a movie, and I relax for a couple of hours, and it’s the best thing I do all week.
9. You find a genies lamp and are granted three wishes. What would you wish for? *note you cannot wish for more wishes, it’s cheating. ;)
A horse, the money to pay for the horse’s room and board, and another horse (the first one might be lonely).
10. If McDonalds sold hotdogs, could you order a McWeiner and ask them to supersize it with a straight face?
Well, now I can’t! I probably could have before you put this into my head, though, because a lot of things come flying out of my mouth without thinking, and then afterwards I go, “Oh God, I can’t believe I said that!”
11. If you were offered a free ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
PARIS!! In 2010 my husband and I had the opportunity to spend one day in Paris (as part of a visit to London) and, to date, that has been the best day of my life. The city is so beautiful, and despite tales to the contrary, the people were friendly and wonderful We went to the Cluny museum and saw the Unicorn tapestries, had lunch in the gardens at Notre Dame, and just wandered around. On the train back to London we saw a hot air balloon on the horizon, above the French countryside as the sun set behind it. Beautiful.
12. If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you have with you?
Pride and Prejudice, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (that counts as one item, right? J ), my crochet hooks (and preferably some yarn, but I can improvise with grass and palm fronds if need be), matches (I have no faith in my ability to start a fire with two sticks), and a cutting utensil (knife or scissors). I’m both a romantic and a pragmatist J
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 food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, 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 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…
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. Her first novel, HEREAFTER—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife—will be released by Eternal Press later this year. Visit her on the web at www.terribruce.net.
Connect with Terri:
Goodreads Profile: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8244272-terri-bruce
Terri stopped by today as part of her HereAfter blog tour, to find out more about where she will be appearing next click below