Category: Different

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.

 

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!

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.

 

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.”

 

 

 

Death on Earth

Death wakes up. Disoriented.

“Where am I?” she whispers to the cracked dingy walls.

From the open window, the aroma of freshly baked bread wafts in from the nearby bakeshop, followed immediately by stale urine odors rising from the alley three floors below. She stretches and then remembers. She’s no longer a female. She’s no longer a powerful part of the team in Heaven. And she is no longer Death. She’s a human on Earth, her body reeks of New York summer humid, and her mouth tastes the bitterness of her predicament.

Sitting up and running her palm across the scratchy morning chin stubble, she says for the millionth time, “Why did I ever let the Trinity talk me into this?”

I QUIT!!

I QUIT!!

Hi. I’m Death.

“I QUIT.” Those words start Kathryn’s novel, which is called Deathlist and will be published early in 2022. How do I know? Because I’m your female protagonist. It’s my story, but it’s also your story. You. Yes. You. Everyone on the earth will be a part of this story. And some of the crazies I hang out with will be in it, too. Of course.

God plays a key role, as you’d expect, and so do Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But we will all have a run-in with the ol’ devil and well, human beings will put up with some pretty hard stuff as the story unfolds. And me? I’m going to give up my good looks, my designer wardrobe, and a perfectly lovely life in Heaven to save humankind.

“Wait! Why are you quitting, Death?”

You’re saying that to me, right? OR at least you’re thinking it. But you might also be thinking if I quit, if Death quits, you won’t die. Sorry, but It doesn’t quite work that way. And in the meantime, I’ll let you think about this:

WHAT IF YOU KNEW WHEN YOU WERE GOING TO DIE?

That, dear friend, is the gift of the Deathlist. Because in the novel, you will find out that the Deathlist lets you know that. You can make travel plans, decide if you want to take a job or not, stay single or get married. All sorts of stuff. Write the novel, create a cool new invention, or whatever, because you will know exactly how much time you have! Cool, right?

No?

That’s the thing some people like the idea. Some don’t. Anyway, I have to decide if I want to help God or not. And to do that, I have to become human, which means I can’t wear my gorgeous clothes anymore, or change into a blond or a brunette in the blink of an eye. AND… I have to defeat the devil. As a human!

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’d love for you to read Kathryn’s book. Stay tuned here. We’ll be giving you updates as launch day draws nearer and nearer. In the meantime, think about if you’d like to know when you’re going to die. I can’t tell you, by the way. You’ll have to find it yourself. And you do not have to know, by the way. It’s your choice. You have FREE WILL. We all do. Even me.

I gotta run. I can’t be late to collect souls. It’s all planned, you know. The day you’re born and the day you will die are in the database called the Deathlist.

 

The Holy Spirit?

Hey guys–

The Holy Spirit asked if He could get on our blog. Why would I say no?? He was such a big help to me in fighting the devil.

Here’s what he says:

“I’m not sure how I got drug into this novel, but it’s been a hoot! I’ve gotten to wear some hip clothes, play lots of golf, and drink and smoke. On the other hand, I also had an opportunity to help an Earthling, Ariadne, and help Death as she tried to save humans from the stupid devil. I’m not sure how We let someone like him survive all these years, but We did. 

What’s been the most fun? Being able to go back and forth between Heaven and Earth, and in all honesty, not being so bored. We don’t have much going on up here in Heaven. When Arnold Palmer’s spirit gets a hole in one, we all cheer and get extra drinks. Sometimes, God gets a bee in his bonnet and starts a new hobby. We just have to grit our teeth and live through it. Jesus changes his shoes a lot. One day, he’s riding his mountain bike, the next he’s at the bowling alley. We all play golf, so that’s another pair of shoes for Him, of course.

The cool thing: we all have Free Will. You, me, Death, Ariadne, and the devil, unfortunately. But without Free Will, we’d be REALLY bored. Anyway, as I said, I’ve had a good time and I hope you read Kathryn’s book, Deathlist. 

Over and out…

Signed,

H.S.

Clothes!

Hi. I’m Death, and — I LOVE CLOTHES!

What? You’re Death?

Yes, I’m Death. And that’s me on the cover of the book at the left. So, yeah, I hear you asking that question. I hear everything everyone says. I’m kinda like God in that respect. In fact, I’m on their team. But here’s the thing. Helping people from the physical plane to their afterlife is rewarding, but really hard, too! People fight me. They want more time. In fact, a lot of people hate me, and they don’t even know me! They want it to be different. They don’t want to die. But it is what it is.

Don’t you hate that saying?

Anyway, when I get depressed about my job, I get more clothes! Some people call it retail therapy. That’s it exactly. EXCEPT in my case, I’m really lucky because I don’t have to buy anything. I kinda just see something I like and the next thing I know, I have it on. If I don’t like it, I think myself into another outfit. it’s one of the perks of the job. A tiny one, but a perk.

What’s my favorite designer? Coco Chanel. My nickname is Coco, after her. But I like Vera Wang, too. And well. All of them.

What do you do when you’re depressed?

David, Goliath, and Me

WHO SHOULD HAVE WON the battle of David versus Goliath??? Goliath, of course. David was small, he was alone, and he had a rock in a sling. Goliath was tall. Big. Like a house or something. Or a skyscraper. Or a giant rocket ship. And Goliath had big backers.

NO WAY could David win. But as we know, the story is about more than two guys battling. We now have all kinds of lessons about small and nimble versus big and slow. We can say that  Goliath was lazy and all too smug, so he didn’t have to prepare, but David did. He had to believe in himself. Goliath just had to be big. Not too much to do there.

Now Malcolm Gladwell, author of (David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants) has another theory. That Goliath was nearsighted. He couldn’t see what David was doing because he was so far away. And, the parable applies to big companies being “nearsighted” or perhaps “blinded” by their internal dialog. It makes them too weak to fight when the smaller, new competitor sneaks up and takes market share. I’m also reminded of Rocky Balboa, the scrappy fighter in the movie ROCKY who went up against the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. Rocky eventually won. We love these stories! Look at the sequels.

The United States of America was the upstart underdog taking on the hairy old England… and we know how that came out! We won. YAY us.

All these metaphors are great if you want to study and continue there, but what is REALLY important is that Goliath died because he was on the Deathlist for that day. He had to die, and David didn’t. That was all.

That is all.

Your death date is on the Deathlist. It’s in the book DEATHLIST by Kathryn Atkins, which is being launched in early 2022. Hang tight! And in the meantime, please think about it. Would YOU want to know when you’re going to die? Not how. When.

I’m late for collecting souls. See ya.

Yours truly, Death

 

 

I Am So Done

So’s you’ll know. I didn’t sign up to be Death.

I have NO idea how I was given this crazy job. Seriously. Beyond that, I don’t remember growing up. I don’t remember who my parents are or were. AND, I never applied for this stupid job. Who would?

Here’s the thing. We, that is my team and I, have to attend every human death. Every single one. It’s just the way it’s set up. So, we are not the ones who do the killing. NOR do we arrange it or plan it in any way. I simply help people who are slipping from one plane to the next. From conscious life to the next one. It’s all very meta, but everyone goes through it. Our job is to smooth the way. Make it easier. Help the transition. We listen. A lot. It’s supposed to be a lovely experience. We try, anyway.

But, as I said. I am SO done. It’s a thankless job. I see you staring at the screen right this very minute going, “IS SHE KIDDING?” Yes. YOU. I see you. I see everyone. I’m part of that level of people where I can read minds, know people’s thoughts, and, in general, see through to the real you. THAT’s probably the scariest part. Right!? Here’s the deal though. I don’t judge anyone. It’s not my job, and I just don’t do it. I am not in charge of that.

I’m not happy precisely because we have so many people who are, well, pretty mean to me. We get it. It’s scary, but the other thing is that the circumstances are very often messy. No details are necessary. But also, we have really bad cleanups. Cruise ship accidents. Jetliner crashes. Wars. They’re awful. We get stuck with some really ugly stuff and we haven’t had vacations since human beings began.

So… I’m just telling you now. I’m done being Death. Stay tuned, because you’re not going to believe what happens next. It’s even messier. If I told you, you might not go out and buy the book about it. The book is called The Deathlist and it’s coming soon. In the meantime, check in here and you’ll learn a little bit more about how the Deathlist came to be. How I got this job, and OMG, what the devil does to muck things up. God would never have played so much golf if he knew what the devil was going to do!