I'd like to welcome debut author of 'Hereafter' Terri Bruce to The Sweet Bookshelf!
Do you have a bucket list? If so, what are some items you'd like to check off?
Well, I just checked off “write a book” and “get published” ☺
In all seriousness, though, I think it’s really hard to have a bucket list because there is just so much to see and do in the world; we can never do it all. The world is pretty amazing! If I sat down and made a list of all the things I want to do and see and try, it would be a hundred pages long. So I think it’s better to just do and see and experience as much as you can—it won’t be everything, but it will be something. I also think we need to be mindful of the wonder in the things we do manage to accomplish—focus on what we have, not what we don’t have or what we’ve missed.
However, there are two things I really, really hope I get to do before I die: wear a really fancy evening gown and dance the ballroom polka like Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in the King and I (these aren’t necessarily related items).
What are some of your favorite books?
Oh, there are so many wonderful books in the world, it’s so hard to pick! It’s hard to name just a few but here goes: I tend to like classics—Ivanhoe, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Idylls of the King; young adult fantasy—Philip Pullman, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle; and “Asian” fiction (especially Asian women’s fiction)—The Secrets of Jin-Shei, Peony in Love, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Tea House Fire. I also love Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow (such a sad, wonderful book!) and Carl Sagan’s Contact.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Oh man, I don’t think there is any such thing as a typical writing day for me. A good day is one in which I wrote down some ideas (maybe a line of dialog, maybe a few keywords, maybe a description of a scene) before going to sleep the night before so that when I wake up I’m chock full of ideas or I get a bunch of ideas in the shower, and then I manage to write down all these ideas before they escape. Weekdays, I tend to write story chunks—just whatever scenes are in my head, which may or may not be in any kind of order—and on Sundays I integrate the chunks into the manuscript/story and do the smoothing between scenes as well as editing of what I’ve already written.
If you weren't a writer what would you be?
Well, I’m not a full-time writer—I still have to pay my bills (alas!). “In real life” I’m a grant writer for a non-profit organization, a job that I LOVE. I work for an incredible organization and with incredible people, doing incredible things. My other love is working with animals, especially training horses and dogs. I keep trying to find time in my life to volunteer at an animal shelter to work on rehabbing abused animals—I would love to do that. I guess I would list this as a bucket list item!
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
Oh, I think most things about myself would surprise people—I’m apparently a very odd sort of person. I love Spam (the canned meat), I have a fear of driving over bridges, I have all my “parts” (appendix, tonsils, etc.), and I have never had a broken bone or worn a cast.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
It was a long one! Hereafter is the second novel attempted to have published. I queried both agents and small/independent publishers/presses—it took 8 months and 112 rejections total (some of those came in after HEREAFTER was already under contract to Eternal Press) to find a publisher for the story. I was considering self-publishing and probably would have self-published in the end if no-one picked the story up because that’s how much I believe in HEREAFTER and want it to find readers who will love it. In the end, Hereafter was published about three years to the day after I started writing it ☺
How did you come up with the idea for Hereafter?
“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, well…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. But I will say that I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, especially the origins of myths. Myths and legends change over time, they get embellished or updated to reflect modern values, and we often forget the “real” story behind the myth. At some point, I started wondering, “Well, what if all these stories of the afterlife were based on fact—what if they were true?” and then Hereafter was born.