Interview with James G. Robertson, author of Afterworld (Next Life, #1)

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Death comes, and misery follows. As a man in his early twenties, Leon never genuinely contemplated what would happen after his death. Like those before him, he never understood the truth of our universe. After his sudden demise, the terrorizing reality of a mysterious dystopian afterlife begins crushing him as it has those prior. Men have started enslaving and killing each other to sate their greed while enigmatic creatures oppress the masses. Only a select few have shown the courage that is needed to challenge their supremacy.

Through this eclipsing darkness, there is hope. But will that hope prove to be enough to save this turbulent cosmos? The revelations of advanced science, magic, human savagery, and even our gods will be showcased. Both in a new light and disturbing darkness, will the verities of Earth and Afterworld give him a greater understanding of our universe; or in turn, begin to break him as they have done to so many before?

1) What made you want to write this book?

What made me want to write this book was I was coming to terms with religion. There are so many out there, no one knows what to believe. Those practicing say or at least believe their own to be true (this is even a fact when they have the same God). So I was looking for signs, and none ever came my way. This was about 10 years ago, mind you. So I started this book to explore religion in another way. What if there was a god, or gods, but it was none no living person knew of? What if these gods had been lying to humanity for centuries? It was and still is a deep question I ponder. Why are humans so trusting of someone they haven’t met? That is why I started this book, and it grew from that into an epic fantasy series that I’m proud to call my own and share with others.

2) What important themes are shown in your book?

Important themes in my book, hmm? I think my book tries to emphasise the point I addressed in question one. Don’t believe everything you’re told without having evidence to back it up. You shouldn’t believe something shared on Facebook, just as you shouldn’t believe a random fact or story told by a stranger. Beyond that, there is a point that not all humans are good, but a lot are. And not everyone we perceive is bad is bad because they choose to be. We need to be more understanding and work together, rather than letting jealousy and anger for past mistakes cloud our judgement. Humanity needs to come together and work to bring out the best in each other. Be fair to one another, and that’ll do a lot to help you throughout this life, and perhaps the next.

3) What was the writing process for you like?

I’m a pantser/discovery/gardner writer, whichever term you want to use. Basically, this means I have an overarching idea. I might have a couple of main plot points and characters and then I just write. My story takes twists and turns that I wouldn’t have been able to tell you a week earlier. It comes from life experiences, and thoughts that I have in the moment take form and on the page. Maybe I can coin this as the butterfly effect style of writing. Even a coffee or a small interaction with a friend or complete stranger can have a significant change in where the story goes, and eventually ends.

4) What was your biggest hurdle writing this book?

My biggest hurdle in writing Afterworld was time. I started 10 years ago, as I mentioned earlier, but I stopped writing after I moved around and went back to school. It wasn’t really until after I finished school that I picked it back up. I had it saved on a flash drive until that point. I held onto it and eventually, when I had some downtime after graduating, I started writing again and finished it. It’s an enormous commitment to write a novel, even writing a novella or short story can take time.

5) Is this the first book you’ve written? If not, which others have you written? If so, what books are you hoping to write/have written since?

This is the first book I’ve written. The second one is The Ripper, and I’m currently working on the audiobooks for these two works. The third is The Desperado’s Tale, which will either be released at the end of next year, or early-mid 2023. It’s going to be a longer book and around 500+ pages. The series as a whole will be 15+ books. How many in total I couldn’t say, but it’s going to be a true epic dark fantasy series.

6) What character from your book do you most have in common with and why?

Well, this is a simple question to answer for me. While a lot of the characters have fragments of myself (as I believe most characters an author creates does) the character I most relate to is Leon, as he is a dull reflection of my being. From being tall, from Kansas, to his school, etc. I started him out this way those years ago and left it. Obviously, not everything is real, but one part of the book you will read includes a section about horny toads. This was from my experience as a child. As I was exploring religion in my life, Leon was finding the answers in his. Writing is an outlet for me. It helps me escape the mundanity of our world. Hopefully, my stories help someone else in their own search of escape.

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