Character Interview with Irene Dunphy
Today we welcome Irene Dunphy from Thereafter. Thank you for being here. It's quite a treat to meet you!
Irene: No, thank you for having me! I’m thrilled to be here.
Irene can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Irene: Well, I’m thirty-six, I’m 5’ 8” tall, have red hair, and I’m dead.
Did you say dead?
Irene: Yeah, unfortunately; I’m a ghost.
This is actually your second outing/book, right?
Irene: Yes, that’s right. Thereafter is the second book dealing with my journey through the afterlife. The first book, Hereafter, detailed my coming to terms with being dead and learning to live as a ghost on Earth. At the end of that story I left Earth and crossed over to the afterlife.
So what’s different this time around?
Irene: Everything! I’m no longer on Earth—I’ve crossed over to the other side—so I’m completely out of my comfort zone. Nothing is familiar and there’s really no place I can hide, no crutches for me to lean on. My friends are gone. My family is gone. Life as I knew it is gone. Plus, I no longer have Jonah to help me. He stayed behind on Earth, which is where he should be. I’m only just realizing how rotten it was of me to involve him in my problems, so I’m glad he’s safely back in the land of the living, but I do miss his brains and his ability to figure stuff out. Now, without him, I’m having to learn to rely on myself, which is scary. I’ve never really trusted myself before. To deal with the self-doubt, I’ve always just turned off my brain and let others make decisions and deal with problems. Now there’s no one but me, so I’ve had to learn to put on my big girl pants and deal with stuff myself.
In this book, you’re stuck at the river Styx because you don’t have a coin to pay the ferryman, right?
Irene: Actually, it’s the river Acheron. I learned that from Jonah.
Ah. Okay, so you’re stuck at the river Acheron. What happens if you get across?
Irene: WHEN I get across. Let’s be honest—there’s no way I’m not going to get across. I have an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of stubbornness. That’s pretty much all I need. Believe me, I’m getting across that river.
And then what? What do you think is on the other side?
Irene: That’s a toughie. I’d like to think that’s the end of my journey—that I reach ‘the end,’ whatever that might be. But I suspect there’s going to be another level of the afterlife, another challenge to overcome. So many of the stories Jonah told me involved multiple levels of the afterlife so I think I’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg at this point.
So what do you think ‘the end’ looks like? How is your story going to end?
Irene: Honestly, I don’t know at this point. Andras—he’s a guy I meet in Thereafter—thinks we enter the kingdom of God, literally. Andras is very religious—he’s was a knight in the eleven hundreds—and he thinks Heaven means entering the service of God, that he’ll get to actually meet God and serve him as a knight in the ‘heavenly host’ or army. Ian—this other guy I meet in Thereafter—thinks Heaven is more like one big party, full of carousing and dancing girls. The stories say it’s both and all the stories are supposed to be true, so I guess it’s going to be both, but I’m not really sure how that can be. Maybe each person gets to choose between the two? I don’t know.
Personally, I think we’re headed for oblivion. So far, everything I’ve encountered in the afterlife is about deconstructing the dead, about stripping away everything that made us human—our bodies, our friends, our lives, our memories. I really hope I’m wrong, because that would suck, especially after everything I’ve been through, but I can’t help having a bad feeling about where this is all going.
What is the next big thing for you?
Irene: I can’t reveal that without giving away spoilers, but I can tell you that Book #3 of the series is almost finished and it focuses a great deal on Egyptian and Sumerian afterlife mythology, with bits of Greek and Welsh mythology thrown in. It’s definitely an interesting mix!
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
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.
I am THRILLED beyond all measure to finally be able to bring you Thereafter, and I want to thank all the fans who have waited (more or less patiently) an extra year for this book to finally come out. Thereafter would not have been possible without your support—thank you all! I hope you love this beautiful new cover as much as I do, and I hope you find Thereafter to be worth the wait.
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?”
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.
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