Guest Author: Merrie DeStefano

Merrie DeStefanoToday, I am excited to welcome Merrie DeStefano, author of the fabulous new novel, Afterlife.

Welcome to your next chance.

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 . . .

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, plus 3 signed copies of Afterlife.

Where do story ideas come from?

Writing a book is all about taking an idea and playing with it. Sort of like teasing a cat with a string. You move the string and the cat follows. You start with an idea — what if dogs could fly? — and then you move through your story, seeing what would happen as a result.

Even though there are no new ideas (all of our ideas are based on something already in existence), you can still come up with something that feels new and fresh. Part of this is accomplished by world-building, part of it is accomplished by creating three-dimensional characters. But a lot of times, it all comes down to that original idea, the ‘what if’ that spawned your book in the first place.

What if people didn’t have to die?

That was the basic premise in Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles. The world that evolved out of that premise became intricate and complicated and dangerous. Still, in the beginning, the premise was a simple one-line idea.

If you’ve ever read any social science fiction — things like The Children of Men by P.D. James or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury — then you know that in these imagined worlds, one small change can make a big difference. It can turn everything inside out.

This was exactly what happened with Afterlife. Nearly everything in the world changed when I removed death from the equation. And yet, despite my one-line premise, halfway through the book, I knew that I still needed something else. I needed some element that would show what my characters had lost in their pursuit of immortal life. Remember the old adage, show don’t tell? Well, my story was in need of some showing.

Then one day while driving to work I got another idea.

I passed a truck, all painted with pictures of children playing. The signs on the truck were written in Spanish, so I’ll never know what the true purpose of the vehicle was, but I knew almost instantly that I had found my missing ingredient. Before I got to work, I had toyed with the idea of that truck until it transformed into something dark and dangerous. It became The Underground Circus: a world-wide, black-market organization that temporarily provided people with that one thing they secretly longed for above anything else — children.

See, a world without death must also be a world without children. In the near-future world of Afterlife, very few children were allowed to be born each year. So inside each person was a hunger for the family that they couldn’t have.

Every writer explores new territory when she writes. I didn’t know until I really dug into

this book that one of the tragic repercussions of jumping from one life to the next would be the breakdown of the family unit. In the end, besides being a good story, Afterlife also became a cautionary tale: Be careful what you wish for.

So, my question for you today is this: What book have you read that had such a unique story premise that you still haven’t been able to stop thinking about it?

I’ll share my answer too, in the comment section, later in the day. But right now, I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

And I’d like to thank the folks here at Literary Escapism for inviting me today. I really appreciate it!


With twenty years’ experience in publishing, Merrie Destefano left a 9-to-5 desk job as the editor of Victorian Homes magazine to become a full-time novelist and freelance editor. Her first novel, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles, released on Sept. 28, 2010. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California with her husband, their two German Shepherds and a Siamese cat.

Afterlife can be purchased at Amazon or the Book Depository


AfterlifeThank you Merrie for visiting Literary Escapism.

Contest Time! Merrie has graciously offered to give away a $25 Amazon gift card, plus 3 signed copies of Afterlife.  All you have to do is answer this one question: What book have you read that had such a unique story premise that you still haven’t been able to stop thinking about it

As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):

  • +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
  • +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
  • +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
  • +10 Purchase any novel through LE’s Amazon store or the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries.

There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until November 18th, at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer and the List Randomizer.

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. I was blown away when Vickie Pettersson’s first Zodiac book was released. I thought that was a really unique premise for a series and I love each installment.

    I’m a follower on Facebook!

  2. I am almost done with Dakota Banks’s Dark Time and it is gripping, at times tough, and very difficult to put down. I also agree with Becky about the zodiac series. Lastly but not leastly, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series is incredible-stellar world(s) building. I’ve never been so upset upon finishing a book and finding out I have to wait a long time for the next one.

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  3. Seeing that I have already won your book…which I am so looking forward to reading… I just wanted to stop by and say HI!!!! *waving*

  4. The book I’m reading right now, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe has a great premise. The main character is a time machine repairman, in a possibly malfunctioning time machine going around helping other people fix their machines. He also peers through small time distortions to look at his alternate universe self and notices that most of them are not very nice people.

    +1 follow LE on Twitter @GeckyBoz


  5. One book that I constantly go back and reread is College of Magics. The premise in that book is that the world is balanced by four wardens, one for each cardinal direction, who keep life balanced, neither good nor bad, and what happens when one ignores that responsibility to create something either wholly good or bad. It is a terrific book about responsibility and duty wrapped up in a fantasy coming of age story.

  6. Burying the Shadow by Storm Constantine.
    I must admit I didn’t like the story, but the world created in this book is very original and has so many possibilities that weren’t used sadly enough.

    (retweeted this post/giveaway, my twitter profile:

    Not sure if this is internatonal, but if it is: please enter me in the giveaway.

  7. I have to say there are a few books that I still think on after reading. One is the Disillusionist series by Carolyn Crane. I really liked the system she created with the fears, or abundance of fear in some, people have and how to zing it to others and the affects after ward. Really a neat thing in a similar world to ours.

    Another book, and its not really that original of a premises, was Hunger Games. The impact of the writing in those books really hit home the war the games created inside the characters along with in the world itself. I seem to have got caught in the thinking there, in that world.

    +1 Tweeted –
    +1 On my side bar of contests –
    +1 Follower of Literary Escapism on Twitter – @MelLHay
    +1 Comment here

    4 Total

  8. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook. I absolutely love it and have read it twice already. It also introduced me to the steampunk genre (I’m normally a PNR/UF type of gal) and I have been happily exploring ever since. :-)

  9. I’d have to say Kelly Gay’s The Better Part of Darkness. She took our ideas of heaven and hell and made them real, involving different dimensions and scary creatures. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading more by Kelly Gay.
    I loved the interview and though I’d heard about Afterlife, I didn’t think about these people not being allowed to have children. It makes a lot of sense and I’m sure it really adds another dimension to the story.


  10. Oh wow. Tough question! I agree with some of the answers I’ve seen like Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac series.

    Another book I read this year that I couldn’t get out of my head, even prior to reading about it was Shannon Delany’s debut 13 to Life. A YA book about werewolves. Really couldn’t get it out of my head, not that the story was immensely different, just the way it was told totally gripped me from the cover and first sentence!

    Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series has done that to me too!


  11. I finished reading Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready recently and the idea that everyone below a certain age could see ghosts was an idea I couldn’t get out of my head. Especially at how it impacted the whole world as you mentioned in your post. The idea that something changed the world as we know it – chilling!

    Facebook follower as well.

  12. Ever since I read the books Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld I can’t stop thinking about that world.

    +1 follow on twitter @throuthehaze

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  13. A series I can’t stop thinking about is the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews – the world she created is so complex and it’s always a suprise what will happen next…

    Merrie, thanks so much for your post today – your book sounds fantastic and I can’t believe I would have missed it!

  14. The Hallows series by Kim Harrison. Then there is The Fever series (Moning) and Kate Daniels (IIona Andrews), The Zodiac series (Vicki Pettersson), Black Dagger Brotherhood (JR Ward), Cassandra Palmer Series (Karen Chance).
    Picking favorite worlds is like eating potato chips, can’t pick just one .

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  16. Meljean Brook’s, The Iron Duke has been an unforgettable read for me. Awe-inspiring, fantastical world building filled with wondrous events and inventions. I am so into steampunk now! I also loved the heroine, Mina, a no-nonsense, strong yet vulnerable woman who is so deserving of the hero she got. Loved it.

    +1 Twitter follower (@scorpio1m)

    jenma76 at hotmail dot com

  17. Hi Merrie!

    Some unforgettable novels i read are from the Elemental assassin series by Jennifer Estep. The world Ms. Estep has created seems so amazing and the characters feels so real that they can leap off the pages.

    +1 LE facebook fan/ twitter follower
    +1 commented on your review of The greyfriar by C.&S. Griffith
    +1 twitted it:
    Total= 3

  18. The series that definitely stays with me because of its unique premise is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. The fact that the world goes through Tech fazes and Magic fazes is very interesting and a bit scary to think about when you imagine to have the world we live in be suddenly taken over by magic, something that most people don’t believe in its existence.


    Commented on Alpha review.

    Follower of LE on Facebook (Jessica Spettoli) and Twitter (@jmspettoli)

  19. I’ve been lucky to encounter a handful of books that keep reverberating in your mind after you’ve finished. The most recent was a YA book — Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

    On its face its a love story with werewolves, but the themes in this book are fantastic — especially for a YA. Lots of tones of women needing to be strong for themselves, seeking independence, investigating truth for one’s self — and the love triangle is excellent because both the guys are, well, good options.

    +1 LE follower on Twitter (@vampbookclub)

  20. For me it was Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionist series (Mind Games) which I kept thinking about weeks after finishing the book! It is simply brilliant! And now I have the 2nd book on my shelf waiting for me to read it! yay! :-D

    +1 Twitter follower (@Stella_ExLibris)
    +1 Facebook follower (Stella Ex Libris)

    +1 tweeted:

    +1 posted on Facebook:

    Thank you for the fun post and I yearn to read Afterlife it sounds exciting! :-)

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

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