Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Afterlife Celebration with Merrie

After I read Afterlife I emailed the author, Merrie Destefano, to tell her how much I loved it, and to ask her if I could interview her about the book and her writing. I've known her online for almost a year now, and I am thrilled that her book is getting such a wonderful response. She certainly deserves the praise and I'm pleased to celebrate it's release with her. Be sure to enter the contest at the end of the post!

Brenda: Afterlife, to me, seems to be part science fiction mixed with a dystopian tale. It reminds me of good, classic sci fi when the authors made us question and think about our future. Did you mean for it to be that way? I ask because though I love Sci Fi and have since I was 16 or so, it seems intimidating as far as the writing, and the writers involved in the genre. How does it feel knowing your book might end up a classic like Fahrenheit 451?

Merrie: First, Brenda, thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your blog! I’m excited to be here! Now on to my answers: I’ve always loved science fiction too. The interesting thing to me is that I could never write what’s called hard sci-fi, the kind with real, technical science behind every gizmo and gadget that appears. But I’ve always loved social science fiction, like the stuff written by Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Dick. It’s basically where we have the science already and we’re looking at how that science has affected society. For me, this was much easier to write than hard sci-fi. I really enjoy creating characters and figuring out how they feel about the situations I throw them into, so a social science fiction tale seemed like a good fit. Of course, Afterlife has fantasy and mystery and dystopian elements tossed in as well, mainly because I love those genres too. Will Afterlife become a classic? Wow, that’s a great question. I think every writer would be thrilled if one of their books became a classic. I know I would. I always (jokingly) say that my goal all along was to write a book that would become required reading for high school students. Honestly, I loved high school English, so I would be delighted if any of my books were used to help a young person fall in love with reading.

Brenda: I loved Omega, but had a question-- I just have to word it correctly so as not to give spoilers. Omega, who is a dog, seems very smart to me. Was he simply a smart breed of dog, or did the things done to him in the lab make him more intelligent? I also noticed he could be a twin of your dog in the picture on your website:)

Merrie: Interestingly, when I first wrote the book, Omega had actual thoughts and they were very primitive. But in the process of editing, those were all taken out. What I was really trying to communicate in Omega’s scenes, besides his character, was his intuitive nature, the ability that dogs have to “read” a situation and instinctively know what needs to be done. One of my dogs—the one in my author photo—is super smart when it comes to any social behavior situation. He can stop a dog fight by just walking in between two dogs. He’s very gentle with children and our cat, but he knows when he needs to stand up for himself with our other German Shepherd. So I was trying to create a dog who was extremely loyal and had “street smarts” which would eventually put him in charge of a wild dog pack. By the way, I never mention it in the book, but in my mind the dog pack was descended from Katrina dogs: dogs who had survived Hurricane Katrina and then banded together when they couldn’t find their people. And yes, Omega could easily be a twin of my Joshua!

Brenda: Though Afterlife has romance, it's on a deeper level, more subtle. I actually liked that you didn't take a detour to have your characters getting all hot and steamy in the middle of a crisis. Did you make a decision to keep things toned down, or did it just end up that way as you were writing?

Merrie: [There might be some spoilers in my answer] From the beginning, I saw Afterlife as a book that contained elements of science fiction, mystery, fantasy and romance, but I never wanted any one of those elements to overwhelm the others. Also, Chaz was forbidden by his Babysitter code from having a sexual relationship with his Newbie during her first week after resurrection—this was one of codes that could have had serious repercussions if he broke it. I thought it was important to show that there were some rules Chaz was willing to break, but that he would never break any that might harm his Newbie. There even comes a point in the story when he has to decide whether his loyalties lie with someone in his family or with his Newbie. To me, the fact that he chose to follow his Babysitter code at that time helped to prove what an honorable man he was.

Brenda: I saw in an interview that your next book isn't a sequel to Afterlife. Will there be one? Or is it too soon to know? I would love to read as many books as you could write in this world.

Merrie: Thank you so much for wanting more books in this series! Yay! I do plan to write a sequel to Afterlife. My second novel, Feast: Harvest of Dreams, was written after I finished Afterlife and before either book sold to HarperCollins. At that point in time, I had no idea whether anyone would be interested in Afterlife, so I just started writing a different stand-along book. If I had known that Afterlife would be a popular book (something no writer can predict), I would have written a sequel immediately. As it is, I would love to write a sequel, and I can already see several potential books in the series. But right now, I think it all really comes down to how well Afterlife does in sales. Brenda, thanks again for having me here today and for all of your kind comments about Afterlife!

Brenda: Thank you for taking the time to let me pick your brain. Afterlife is a very special book that I think will become a classic. You are an amazing writer and I'm thrilled that your book is doing so well.

The Resurrection Chronicles
Author: Merrie Destefano
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Eos
Release Date: 9/28/10
Available from Amazon in Paperback

SUMMARY: Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality. Now the only hope for Chaz and his family—and the human race—lies in the secrets locked away in the mind of Angelique, the beautiful, mysterious Newbie he must protect .

Everyone who's ever thought about life and death should read Merrie Destefano's Afterlife. It will give you many things to ponder about what may come to pass in the future. Cloning is something we know the scientists will continue to work on until humans can be "created" in a lab. What happens when people are given the choice of not just one life, but possibly NINE chances to live again? The author of Afterlife has written a novel that explores this very concept. I was reminded of the saying "Just because we CAN, doesn't mean we SHOULD." Advancements in medicine and science are important to the world, to the human condition. We all hope for a cure to cancer, diabetes, heart failure, AIDS and so many other diseases. Who wouldn't want cures for diseases that kill so many? What if the person could get rid of their diseased body for a new one? Would research stop on cures for disease? The questions are endless.

Afterlife is a fascinating, fast paced read with rich characters, action, suspense and emotion. It has elements of science fiction and dystopian fiction, but I know for some people that brings to mind complicated plots that take intense concentration to sift through the details of the society and it's political and technical advancements. Afterlife is written by someone who is warm and generous in her dealings with fans, friends and fellow writers. If you have followed Merrie on Twitter and Facebook for any length of time, you'd know how true this is. She has taken a plot and concept that could have been overwhelming at times, and written it in a style that isn't complicated or overwhelming. The story will reach the reader on many different levels. Her writing is almost poetic at times; filled with strong emotion that brings the reader inside the heads of the characters, rather than just observing them from afar. I will be reading it again and again throughout the years, and hope that many others will do so as well.

If you are a fan of Vicki Peterssen, Dakota Banks, or Stacia Kane I think you'll really enjoy Afterlife. Even if you haven't read these authors but you love old fashioned science fiction that makes you think about society and our future, you should give Afterlife a read. You won't regret it.

Merrie is graciously giving away a signed copy of Afterlife to one of the visitors. Ask her a question or tell us if you would take another shot at life if it was offered to you.

I will randomly choose one winner from the comments on Sunday evening and announce it on Monday, November 8th, 2010.

Read an Afterlife excerpt here.

The Afterlife book trailer is here:

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