Author: Kathryn Atkins

What Is Satire, Exactly?

Here’s the thing. The novel Deathlist is a satire, in the same way, that George Orwell’s Animal Farm was a satire. Satire is “penetrating wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly. Orwell’s satire took the form of his effort, “to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.” [Wikipedia] In the case of Deathlist, I tried to fuse life’s purpose and artistic purpose into one whole.

The Deathlist is God’s way to keep his mind free to do other things. Keeping track of everyone’s birth and death dates is a huge chore that not even God likes to do. When the Deathlist gets released to the people of Earth, humans have a chance at achieving their life’s purpose with more urgency if they know when they will die. That was my original idea for writing the book.wanted that urgency in my life.

The book started out with an entirely different main character, and he (a young man) was a mortal and found the Deathlist, and at the same time,  there was another older man and his wife who also knew the Deathlist existed. Alas, that story (I really liked it) was taken over by the vain and gorgeous Death, so much so that the entire book changed from science fiction/fantasy to visionary & metaphysical/satire.

In some ways, the final scenes of Deathlist mimic the end of Animal Farm in that our main character Death is betrayed by the Trinity. However, unlike Animal Farm, the novel Deathlist is not as depressing an ending. Death learns quite a bit about herself during the course of the action, while the reader will have some pretty important questions to ask of themselves as well. Most importantly, it’s this one:

“Would you want to know when you’re going to die?” 

You can answer the question in our survey here.

As a literary device or artistic form, an “allegory is a narrative or visual representation in which a character, place, or event can be interpreted to represent a hidden meaning with moral or political significance. Authors have used allegory throughout history in all forms of art to illustrate or convey complex ideas.” [Wikipedia]

The character Death conveys vanity, selfishness, and a host of other “deadly sins” (Did I say that? Yes, I guess I did.) But her character represents some aspects of hope, love, trust, and loyalty, too. SO. I hope you read Deathlist, take the survey, and let me know what you think of it!

Also, Deathlist is funny, but its messages are not. That’s kind of what satire is all about, I think.

Well, the Trinity is off playing golf while you and I are working. So let’s go back to work.

 

An Interview with Death

Hello and welcome. I’m Ana Cortez from ACME NEWS. Today, we’re sitting with Death in her penthouse living room in New York City where she often stays between gigs. If you’ve not met Death, you are in for a treat. Death has a history of being misunderstood for much of her life. In fact, she didn’t understand a lot about her own existence until the Deathlist was published and now, she’s much more relaxed and has time for interviews. Like today’s.

By the way, for you radio listeners, Death is wearing a très chic just-last-week’s Paris collection torn jean look with gold spike heels, a Vera Wang backless top, a John Hardy necklace and bracelet, and a Chanel scarf. Her hair is pinned up in an elegant chignon with not-so-tiny diamonds nestled throughout, sparkling against the camera lights.

Ana: How are you today, Death? You look amazing. As usual.

Death: Thank you so much, I’m fine. And I’m glad to have a few days off.

Ana: Days off? What happens to the souls you’re supposed to pick up today?

Death: I have assistants that help out. We’ve always had a team, of course, but I have to say some of the younger collectors are in too much of a hurry.

Ana: What do you mean?

Death: I try to help people at the end of their lives. I like to give them a chance to ponder their existence, revisit their purpose, and hopefully forgive themselves.

Ana: Who knew? You don’t take people’s lives then.

Death: No. I don’t. They’re already out of the earthly, mortal plane when I arrive. I’m the go-between.

Ana: So, who sends them to their eternity?

Death: That’s another department entirely. And people’s sins are tallied in the Sin Almagamator Department for that.

Ana: Um… Oh. Gee.

Death: Don’t worry. I’m sure you’re fine.

Ana: Uh…  Well. Let’s talk about the Deathlist. What was that exactly?

Death: Everyone on the Earth has a designated time when they’re born. God makes sure they’re here when they’re supposed to be. [Death sweeps her arms around the apartment and out to the amazing view of New York.] Then, they have to have a time when they die, of course. The Deathlist is a big database where all that is recorded. We decided people shouldn’t know when they’ll die ahead of time. Although we’re still open to opinions.

Ana: Huh?

Death: Yes. If you’d like to take the survey, it’s here.

Ana: Oh. Great. I’ll do that. And our listeners can too! But I’m not sure if I want to know.

Death: Yes. Yes.  Everyone has a different thought on that. It’s very personal. We get that. But, I’m afraid I have to go.

Ana: So soon?

Death: Yes. I’m very sorry. But I have to collect some souls now. There’s a terrible war going on in Ukraine, and we just didn’t put enough collectors on for today. Thanks so much for putting me on the air.

Ana: We’ll do this again!  Thanks for coming on our show, Death. And listeners, would you like to know when you’re going to die? Take the survey and be sure to read Deathlist. Until then, signing off from ACME NEWS.

Ana: That’s a wrap.

Ana to self: I probably better scoot to confession. 

Madeleine Albright Died Today

Really.

There was some kind of hoax a while ago. It said she was gone, but she was not. She was alive.

Now, she really is gone.

My friend lent me one of her many books:

Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir
by

Published in 2020, it was one of her last books. Amazingly, Ms. Albright was funny. Warm. And matter-of- fact. Somehow, she didn’t seem snooty or high and mighty…. even though in the scheme of things, she was both high and mighty.

She didn’t take much “guff” from anyone. She was someone to admire whatever your politics. She was a good role model for women of any age, and I enjoyed reading about her and being alive when she was.

That’s all.

Writing About Good People

As a business writer, I write about accounting, taxes, marketing, sales, inventory, construction, real estate, and other interesting topics. Everyone once in a while I get to write about someone who is doing something to help people. In my article “Finding Freedom — Five Steps When Applying for a Green Card”  for National Business Post, I got to write about someone who helps people attain Legal Permanent Residency in the United States.

The man is Chris M. Ingram and he is an immigration attorney who is himself a Legal Permanent Resident in the United States. He’s spent the last 20 years of his life helping others to find the freedom to work and stay here. Other work visas are temporary. The Green Card, which grants legal permanent residency, is the “gold standard” in work visas, and the only higher level is citizenship. People born in the U.S. are lucky. Others, many of whom we see at our borders, are clamoring to be a part of the promised land. It reminds me how lucky we are.

I like writing about interest rates. Trust and probate homes. Cybersecurity and banking are fun topics. But a person like Chris M. Ingram is a real treat. His website, with pages and pages of videos, tutorials, and definitions shows his passion and desire to help his fellow immigrant.

Thanks, Chris!

 

 

 

Two Attorneys Walk Into a Bar

Lawyer One says to Lawyer Two, “You look awful. What’s up?”

“My dad had a massive stroke. He’s paralyzed from the neck down.”

“I’m so sorry!” They order drinks.”How old is he?”

“He’s 61.”

Silence.

“Whoa. What’s the prognostication?”

“We don’t know yet. Some doctors say he may never walk again. Others say he might be okay after physical therapy. It just depends.”

“On what?”

“They say some of it will be the extent of the damage to the brain. They’re not sure yet. But it’s also a lot about how hard he works to be well again.”

Lawyer One says, “He’s still young! Sixty-one is means he has a lot of good years ahead.”

“Or decades of hell.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Cut to the novel Deathlist, and its thematic question.  

Would You Want To Know When You’re Going To Die? 

Here’s the thing. If you knew you were going to live to be a hundred, would it give you a better motivation to work your fanny off to be able to walk again? OR would you want to be glad you’re still able to read with your eyes? What if you were an artist? Would you somehow learn to hold a paintbrush in your teeth? Paint with your nose? Or as a musician, wouldn’t you like to know how to compose music through a speaking- or singing-to-musical-notation device? ALSO, you could still listen to amazing books and take classes online or at a school!

We don’t know how long we will live, but I’ll tell you that a young man injured in a surfing accident was paralyzed from the neck down. What did he do? He went around to schools to tell teenagers that whatever happens to them, they can still make a life. He was funny and hip with long, blond surfer hair, and he had the kids (middle school, by the way — a tough age to impress) glued to their seats. He didn’t know how long he had to live, but he made himself useful by helping others. Either way, the Deathlist could tell you how long you had and help you make your decision. OR you can make your life how you want it either way.

I’d like to know.

Would You Want To Know When You’re Going To Die? 

Let us know. Go HERE to fill out the short survey. We’ll collect the answers and use yours anonymously (of course) to let people know what others think.

Oh… and the two lawyers? Maybe the dad will find a fulfilling life. From the neck up. We hope so.

P.S.  Here’s the Deathlist book trailer!

The Last Walk for A Man and His Best Friend

It was a sunny day. Beautiful. When George stepped out of the house with his dog that day, he didn’t know it was the last walk he’d ever take. The Amtrak train came out of nowhere.

He didn’t know, but I did.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m Death. And I pick up people’s souls. I don’t kill anyone. That’s another department. I just collect souls. This guy was a doozy because if the DEATHLIST were still active, he could have consulted it before he started out that day, and he may have decided not to “chance” the run across the tracks. Right? But it’s not. In Kathryn’s book, DEATHLIST, we know humans could see when they were going to die. But it’s gone now, so this person was taken quite by surprise. I know it because when I picked him up, he was, like, “Did that train hit me?” He looked at me very confused. “Are you the grim reaper? You’re beautiful!”

“Yes. I am she. And yes, thank you for the compliment. But I’m not that grim. At least I try not to be.”
“What about my dog?”

“I’m sorry. It was hit, too. I don’t know you, but you might see your dog again.”

He was going to ask me about it, but I knew I had to comfort him and tell him how lucky he was that I could be here with him. “Uh. Okay,” he said.

Just for the record for you animal lovers, the DEATHLIST was not for animals. Good question, though. The DEATHLIST was only for people. However, heaven lets good people have their animals with them. It’s one of the perks. I’m not sure this person walking their dog will have their pup with them. It’s not my job. See. As Death, I don’t make those calls. I just answer the call to pick up the person’s soul and then we turn them over to the Sin Amalgamators to tell them to check their credentials.

Our last-walk guy has gone on his way. And now, I have to take care of a few other people. The poor conductor who killed our dog walker was a basket case after the accident, but he didn’t die. His wife had a heart attack when she heard the news.  I had to collect her soul later that night because truth be told, the conductor had a teeny drinking problem, and was on his last chance to straighten out or lose his job. Of course, he did lose his job, and his wife was sure they’d lose their home and their beat-up car. She probably brought on her heart attack, at least she may have thought so. But God had her on his list for that day.

On a happier note. It turns out the dog got into heaven with his owner. They were both on God’s good list. I like happy endings. Don’t you?

HAVE A GREAT LIFE!

Signed,

Death

P.S. Would you want to know when you’re going to die?  Drop us a line here. We’ll be including the results in a post on social media near when Deathlist launches.

Death’s Breakdown at the Edge of the Universe

For the first time, Death realized she was done. Really. Out of work. No place to go. Nothing to do.

She called the Holy Spirit.

“Thank you for coming,” she told the Holy Spirit. “I’m not sure why I’m so sad. I hated my job of collecting souls.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry,” the Holy Spirit said as the universe spun around them and the nearest star blinked to remove an eyelash.

They stood quietly, with only the pulse of a long-lost Hubble Space Station struggling to find itself and sighing in the darkness. Death sat down and broke down. She hated to show her soft spots, even though the Holy Spirit knew her almost as well as she knew herself. He waited respectfully while she tried to get control again.

“What can I do?” the Holy Spirit asked, offering a handkerchief that appeared magically. He dabbed at Death’s beautiful eyes and noted that her makeup did not smear a smidge. Of course not because Death is a celestial being with all the powers, but no authority, and now, no job.

She said, “I don’t know if you can do anything. I think I’m on my own, as usual. I’ll figure out something.”

Indeed she does. Check out Kathryn Atkins’s novel Deathlist to find out what Death does. Here’s the Deathlist book trailer.

Ms. Death Wears Chanel

The woman on the Paris runway during Fashion Week does not wear a black hood nor does she carry a scythe. She is not bent over in the crone position and does not have a warted, hooked nose. If you saw that kind of woman,  she might be selling poisoned apples to a hapless Snow White character, soon to be part of a group of weird short men with names like Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, and the rest.  (Can you name them?)

No. This woman is Death. A female princess of darkness as it were. She’s in Paris to strut her beauty and clear her name. Of the former, she might succeed. As to the latter, the chances of clearing her name are remote. But she will try in the novel Deathlist, by Kathryn Atkins.

“Hey, Coco,” the woman behind her in the lineup says as they begin their exit off the stage. Death’s name to the mortals around her is Coco. The woman continues, “Do you smell that?”

“What?” Oh. No. Death thinks to herself. My odor is seeping out. I forgot to hold it at bay and it is not Chanel No. 5!

You see, Death has a terrible smell (think rotting flesh) that always surrounds her unless she expends enough energy to suppress it. Sometimes she fails at it, especially when she’s concentrating on something else. Sometimes she’s just too sad. The odor seeps out of sad tears. Other times she’s happy, and the stench (incredibly enough) squeezes out through the tears of laughter. Nah. Doesn’t make much sense, except to say Death loves clothes. Loves to be beautiful, and really does like humans.

You’ll see. Read Deathlist to find out. And besides, you might like to know when you’re going to die. That is if you believe that there is a Deathlist. I think there is or I wouldn’t have written the book.

~ Kathryn Atkins,  Deathlist Author

 

 

Riding the Day Away

Riding the Day Away

“What would you do if you took a day off?”

Off-off. Off the computer. Off the phone. Off responsibilities. Off the hook to play hooky. Here’s what I’d do. I’d go to the train station. Take the next train out. Doesn’t matter where.

*

I buy a ticket, not checking the destination closely. In fact, I tell the cashier, “Don’t tell me where it’s going.” He nods knowingly as if this is quite common. He smiles into my eyes to keep me from looking at the ticket. He puts it in an envelope even, so I won’t see it!

“Have a good trip.”

I’m standing on the platform and feel the vibration as the train nears. I close my eyes and listen. The hugeness of the train pushes the air as it nears. I am forced to open my eyes so I do not fall, my stability threatened by the rush as the train rumbles into the station. Plus I don’t want to miss its lovely massiveness.

The train looks like the Hogwarts train! Steam pulses from the stack. An impressive grate probes the tracks in the front. And the gigantic wheels squeal and hiss as they roll to a stop in front of me.

“ALL ABOARD”

I pull my eyes from the time-stricken train to look for my ticket, and as I straighten, I realize the smells have changed, and that other travelers are wearing clothes from two centuries ago. Me too!

“ALL ABOARD”

I pick up my skirt and my carpetbag and walk toward the train. As I lift a dainty shoe up to the lowest step, my fluffy white petticoats peek out from under the rich blue satin skirt of my dress, tightly cinched at the waist. I catch a glimpse of myself in the train’s large window as I make my way back to my seat. My hair is bundled on my head, curls frame my face, and a matching blue satin hat accented with feathers perches atop my coiffure.

“TICKET?”

The conductor smiles down at me. He looks like Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express,” which doesn’t surprise me in the least. “Ticket?” he repeats kindly.

“Yes.” I pull the ticket from its little envelope, look down and see that we’re headed to someplace I’ve never heard of. Luckily, that’s exactly where I want to go. I sit back. Close my eyes. And I smile.

Joy seeps into my consciousness. “Hello there,” I say.

“Hello,” she replies. “It’s been too long.”

 

 

 

What Would You Do if You Knew?

I sometimes wish I knew when I was going to die. I’d make different plans. Maybe I’d travel more, worry less. Why worry? What’s to worry about if something can’t kill you? Well, I have thought about that. Living in a mangled body would suck.

Severing one’s fear of death would take one thing off the list. Ha! I don’t worry about dying. I know that I will. Now I can know when. Ah, but the biggie is knowing how. Don’t know that yet. Maybe that’s for later science… hacking the “HOW” code, now that we’ve cracked the “WHEN” code. But does taking that ‘when’ question out of the equation help?

I wonder what a doctor would do for me if he or she knew I was going to die in two days? They certainly wouldn’t need to go to extremes to save my life. If saving my life wasn’t the goal, think of how much money I could save! The doctors would be much better off concentrating on making my last two days fun and restful rather than splitting me open and taking stuff out, to no avail. I’d prefer to be comfortable, thanks.

Meanwhile, what would I do if I knew I were going to die FOR SURE next Thursday? Hop a plane to Paris for three days. Then Venice. Yes. Venice. Florence? Why not? If I could squeeze it in.

That’s it for now. If my date to check out is not next Thursday, then I’ll stick around here for a while.

What about you? Where would YOU go?

What would you do if you knew?