Category: CREATIVE WRITING

Deathlist Press Release!!

Deathlist Book Cover

 

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

This is not a trick question. Think about your answer and let us know, please. Perhaps it would depend on the circumstances. Maybe it depends on if you’re old or young. Sick or well. Rich or poor. Death herself doesn’t care EXCEPT she cares about humans, despite herself and how they treat her.

The only way to know what Death really thinks is to read Kathryn Atkins’s book, Deathlist.

AND then you’ll know more about your fellow humans but also how sucky it is to be Death. She hates her job.

Death Has a Therapist?

If you’re old enough, you remember Kermit the Frog’s song, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” If you’re not old enough, you might look it up, but suffice it to say, it’s not easy being Death! It’s almost as bad as being a dentist. No one wants to see Death or the dentist, and people are afraid of both of them when they shouldn’t be afraid of either one.

Death, who also likes to be called Coco for Coco Chanel, is very tired of being feared and of her job of collecting souls. Here’s the thing. She doesn’t CAUSE death. She only collects souls and helps smooth the path between living and the here-after.  PLUS — Death doesn’t send people to their eternities, Heaven or Hell, or wherever they are going to go. But people don’t get that about Death. They think she’s the one doing all the dirty work.

So, that’s why Death has a therapist named Nancy. And when Nancy isn’t available, Death uses retail therapy to get through the roughest days on the job.

She wonders if her therapist is real. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. But then she REALLY wonders if she needs therapy!

How about you? What do you do when you’re feeling blue? Bubble baths? Dancing? TV? What’s your secret escape? Let us know! 

Maybe check out the Deathlist book trailer to see more about Death and why she’s tired of her job. AND why she buys so many clothes. No, she won’t bite! If you read the book Deathlist, which is a satire (and pretty heavy on philosophy), you’ll get to meet a pretty goofy God, a bike riding Jesus, and a fashionista Holy Spirit.  They’re funny, although sometimes Death questions their idea of funny because they all drive her nuts!

Death plays golf with the Trinity when they’re talking to one another, that is.

 

 

The book asks: “WOULD YOU WANT TO KNOW WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE?” Because that’s what the Deathlist will tell you. Take the survey here.

Inspiration for the Novel “Deathlist”

I’m often asked, “What was the inspiration for this novel?”

Well, pretty often.  Um, so. Hmmm. Okay. I’m telling you now that you’ve asked. Thanks! 🙂

Here’s my ANSWER: Every time I saw someone on the news or heard of a person dying that seemed especially odd (like a child, for gosh sakes, or someone sitting on a bench eating a sandwich and a tree fell on them, maybe), I began to form a theory that everyone had a specified death date. Death was not by chance, happenstance, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. God had it planned out. He kept track of it in a big database, which someone or other dubbed the Deathlist.

I still believe there might be one somewhere. How do you explain those little times when you were two seconds behind that huge traffic accident? Or, okay, on a morbid but equally mysterious level, why do some suicide attempts not work? Without bogging down my explanation with statistics, we can all report anecdotal evidence of failed suicides.

Then imagine that humans were somehow allowed to know what their death date was. That was the germ of the book.

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

I could know how much time I had to finish and publish the Deathlist. Write a how-to book about anything. (I’m not sure, but I buy a lot of those fix-me-please books, so I think I should write one!)

 

LOVE to have you take the survey and… oh yes, buy the book. 🙂

Golly! Is This the End?

When is death? I would like to tell my fanbase that I am able to answer this question for you. It’s THE question, and I AM DEATH. I should know.

On my side, when I pick up a soul, that usually means a person’s sentient mind and corporeal body are no longer connected. More importantly, the “spirit” has been separated, and that essence is what flows to its next existence. Your IS and your IS NOT co-exist in a non-existent in-betweenness that some people call Heaven, some call Hell, and some call Limbo.

Some people don’t call it anything. And some people say those places exist not after life but during life. They think that the really terrible stuff that happens to them is “Hell” and that the sweet, happy stuff is Heaven.

Let me tell you this: In Heaven, we have several beautiful golf courses, a free gym with lots of machines, jacuzzis, and lovely fluffy towels. And the best part is that you get to meet a lot of the people you’ve admired over your lifetime. Sorry to say that the people you admired most, however, may not have made it to Heaven. We do have standards. You know. Too many sins and you go to the other place.

I’m going to say this about death. It’s not the end. You can quote me. Because you won’t know if I’m telling the truth until, well, until, you’re gone. In the meantime, read DEATHLIST. You’ll get to hear more about Heaven, Hell, death, and me, Death, a.k.a. “Coco.”

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. 

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!

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.

Exactly 23 Memories Before My Last One

Deathlist Book CoverExactly give or take 23 memories before the last memory I had, I was in a dark place like I imagine most people are before they are them. I do not remember the 24th memory because I wasn’t me yet, I don’t think.

When did I become Death? Was I dropped off a turnip truck? Borne in a bundle hanging from a black stork’s bill? Is there such a thing as a black stork? OR was I drug across the River Styx by a black swan? I like that a lot better, don’t you? What color was the river? Has anyone ever checked? Did it bleed red? Ooze brown? Stink of Hades? Have a burning oil slick slithering across it, an environmental insult to the underworld?

Someone dropped a match from nowhere I could see and flames covered the entire river from one end to the other. Yet the flames parted as the black swan and I floated through, for we did not burn, nor did his shiny black shell ever smell like burning pin feathers. That odor returns from another incarnation. Who was I then? Who were you?

I am Death. But I wasn’t always. Before humans, God did not need a reaper. Souls are unique to humans. I love animals as much as the next person, though I wonder at being a person. AM I? I would say yes. For a while I am. I was. But my memories are murky. What about you? What was your 23rd memory before the last you can dig from inside your honest self?

While you’re thinking, I will reiterate: I hate my job. Collecting souls? UGH. No wonder I quit.