By Terri Bruce
Editions: ebook, paperback
Published August 1st 2012 by Eternal Press
Why let a little thing like dying get in the way of a good time?
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 the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and 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 only 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.
~ Goodreads Blurb
Hereafter was great fun to write, in large part because there is so much mythology to pull from. I never thought I would enjoy doing research for a novel, but I ended up loving it. However, there was WAY too much material for me to include in the book, so some of my favorite tidbits ended up as sort of “throw away” lines, hidden in the background and easily missed. Here are ten of my favorite “hidden” references in Hereafter (commonly referred to as “Easter Eggs”)—believe me, there are many more!
At the beginning of the story, a ghost man in old-fashioned dress passes Irene and asks if she has seen “Mr. Corey.” This is a reference to Giles Corey, the only victim of “pressing” (being crushed by rocks) during the Salem Witch Trials. Local folklore has it that the ghost of Giles Corey appears whenever a disaster is about to strike Salem. The fact that the young ghost man can’t find Mr. Corey is meant to indicate that Salem is safe, for the moment.
Books in Jonah’s Room
The books in Jonah’s room are a mixture of mostly real titles and a few I made up. Interestingly enough, I “made up” Death for Beginners, as a joke (originally it was going to be “Death for Dummies” but that was too alliterative so I changed it), only to find out later (while searching Amazon) that it’s a real title.
In case anyone doesn’t catch the reference—Borg are the most terrifying villains ever introduced to the Star Trek universe (during Star Trek the Next Generation). They “assimilate” any person/civilization they encounter, transforming them into part of their mindless “collective.” They totally scared the bejeebers out of me every time they showed up. Bork, of course, is the main vocabulary staple of the Muppets’s Swedish Chef. This is a “same planet/different worlds” moment that highlights the fact Irene and Jonah don’t have a lot of pop culture references in common.
Amy tells Irene and Jonah that Flanagan’s, the dead bar, is located on “Charlestown Street,” which, of course, they can’t find. Charlestown Street was the section of Washington Street north of Haymarket until about 1900 when it was renamed. Amy calls it by the old name because that’s the name by which she knew it; although Amy doesn’t reveal when she died, it’s clear from her reference to “Charlestown Street” and the description of the clothing she wore in life that she died around the turn of the 20th century.
Most Haunted Places in Massachusetts List
This is an actual list and I left all of the sites and the ghosts supposedly haunting each of these places intact, with no alterations.
Blue Line Tunnel
In researching various tunnels in Boston, I discovered that the Blue Line of the subway, which I rode most every day from Revere to Boston during college, is actually much older than I had realized. The extension of the Blue Line to Wonderland station was fairly new, though older than I had thought (1952), but the section that runs under Boston Harbor, from State Street station in Boston to Maverick Station in East Boston is actually much, much older than I had ever realized (1904). The Blue Line, in fact, was originally called the “East Harbor Tunnel Line” and at one point in an early draft I had Amy refer to it as such (as another clue to Amy’s age/time of death).
Wailing Woman in Hotel
What ghost story is complete without the traditional “wailing woman in white”? Here, I twisted the legend a bit so that the woman isn’t “wailing” so much as throwing a tantrum about the service at the hotel, much to the chagrin of the hotel management.
Amy refers to living in a boarding house in Boston. During my research, I discovered that Boston’s South End was known at one point as the boarding house district. By the turn of the 20th century, the South End was known for its tenements and was populated mostly by immigrants—marking it as the low-rent district. Again, this is one more clue as to the time period in which Amy lived and died.
It’s amazing how many cultures believe in physically lighting the way for the dead, and all of the references in Hereafter to these different traditions/myths came straight from my research. In France, they have Lanterns of the Dead—small, stone towers lighted by a lantern that were used to mark the position of cemeteries (though the purpose and even the name of these towers is in dispute and may have nothing to do with cemeteries at all); Hindus believe in putting a candle near the head of the corpse; and Chinese Ghost Month and other similar celebrations generally end with floating candles on a river to guide the dead back to the afterlife.
The description of drowning is real and taken from my own experience. When I was six I almost drowned and to this day, I have never forgotten what it felt like. I blacked out and remember very little after that point. I was told afterwards that my father saw me going under and managed to grab me at the last second, pull me out, and resuscitate me. After that he put us in the car and drove straight to a store where he bought us life vests, which I wore pretty much any time I went into the water after that. ☺ Even now, more than thirty years later, while I am not afraid to be on boats, I am uncomfortable swimming in water over my head and I’m petrified of walking or driving over bridges.
I hope you enjoyed this “behind the scenes” glimpse into Hereafter—for an eleventh “Easter Egg,” check out my guest post about cats and the afterlife at Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf (http://melissaseclecticbookshelf.blogspot.com) on September 13th! I certainly look forward to seeing how many other hidden and oblique references fans of Hereafter manage to find!
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1. Print book prize pack, each book signed by the author
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For contest rules and how to enter, visit www.thewriterslens.com starting August 17th. Contest ends September 7th at 11:59 pm EST.
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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.