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The waiting gate by j merrill forrest
“Where do you think they go, the patients who no longer seem to be aware of themselves or their surroundings? I mean, take Simon. One moment he’s angry and shouting, the next it’s as if he’s simply left his body behind and gone somewhere. Some of the patients are like that all the time, never having lucid moments at all, and I’ve always wondered … where do they go?”
ABOUT: Alex Kelburn, introduced in 'Flight of the Kingfisher' doesn't just believe in life after death, he knows it to be real. A charismatic psychic medium he works hard to bring comfort to the bereaved. When he meets Erin, a dementia care nurse, and sees first-hand the amazing work she and others like her do, he is determined to help.It is while trying to discover how a little girl died, after her remains are found buried in a shallow grave, that he unlocks many answers. Not only does he unravel the truth behind this tragic death, but he also finds answers to Erin's question, 'where do they go?', offering unusual comfort to those watching loved ones slip into the grip of dementia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J Merrill Forrest’s deep interest in the supernatural is a major theme in her writing. For more than thirty years Jane has researched her subject, visiting psychics, mediums, Spiritualist churches and séances, always keeping an open and questioning mind, hunting down evidence.
At age 40, J Merrill Forrest followed her dream of going to university and gained a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and returned to academia ten years later to gain her MA in Creative Writing. It was during this time she began to work on her novel ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’, published in 2015, which deals with the emotive and polarising subject of life after death and introduced psychic medium Alex Kelburn. He returns in her latest novel, ‘The Waiting Gate’, the main theme of which is dementia and what happens to those who ‘disappear’ as the disease takes hold.
J Merrill Forrest is also the author of 'Orders from Above' published in 2013.
For more on J Merrill Forrest
CHECK OUT OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH j merrill forrest!
1. What’s your ‘elevator pitch’ for your book?
The one absolute certainty of life is that there will be death. ‘The Waiting Gate’ follows four people as they face up to the death of their loved ones or their slow disappearance in the grip of dementia. They all want to know, ‘Where do they go?’ Erin is a dementia care nurse nearing retirement. Kallie wonders if she will have time to repair the fractured relationship with her mother, whose brilliant mind is fading fast. Beth reels from the death of her beloved grandmother and the swift decline of her grieving grandfather. Flora wants to know why her mother abandoned her to die in a derelict house. It is laid upon the shoulders of Alex Kelburn, gifted with psychic abilities, to help them all understand that in a condition like dementia there is a stage in between life and death - and it’s wonderful!
2. Who is your target reader?
My readers are people grappling with the age-old subject of life, death and the Afterlife who want to read about ordinary people having to face up to illness, death and bereavement.
3. When did you start writing your book and how long did it take?
The idea came about 4 years ago when I was a hospice volunteer and the person I was home-visiting rapidly developed dementia. In the first few months she was a lively conversationalist, interested in a wide range of subjects. Then one day she repeatedly asked me who I was, did she owe me money and similar illogical questions. She rapidly slipped away into a world of her own, awake but bed-bound and totally non-communicative. I sat beside her and asked myself: Where has she gone? She died two months later.
I am often asked how long it takes me to write a book, but without keeping track of the odd hours spent here and there until it’s finished, this is impossible to answer. Perhaps I should keep a log when I start the next one!
4. What was the top challenge that you faced during the creation of your book?
The top challenge, and one that was at the forefront of my mind as I was writing, was to present a story encompassing dementia, death and bereavement in an ultimately uplifting way. I wanted the story to appeal to those who have faced losing loved ones to illness and dementia. I wanted a story that would appeal to not only to believers in the Afterlife, but also to those who are not sure and to the non-believers. The latter readers could enjoy the story as fantasy, but I hope they would be inspired to further explore the possibilities and concepts I write about.
5. What publishing route did you opt for and why? (i.e. self-publishing, indie publishing, traditionally published with an agent etc).
I have not had the experience of getting traditionally published. Finding an agent to represent you is time-consuming and, at times, very disheartening, and there is no guarantee that a publishing contract will follow. I have self-published and found it a lonely road. I decided to try the indie route with ‘The Waiting Gate’ as I would have invaluable support and still have some control over many aspects of my book, including the cover design and the publication date.
6. Is this your first book? If not, please provide details of your others.
This is my third novel. ‘Orders From Above’ (currently out of print but I hope to republish it), is a humorous story about angels wreaking havoc in a small Wiltshire village. Lucifer has asserted his right to return to the angelic hierarchy and poor Gabriel is destined to take his place in Hell, so they are sent to backwater Ham-Under-Lymfold to try out their new roles: Lucifer must tempt a bad person to embrace one of the Seven Virtues, Gabriel must tempt a good person to act out one of the Seven Sins. Mixed up in it all is down on his luck Nigel Hellion-Rees, who never knew angels existed until he was recruited by Lucifer to be their human witness.
‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ introduces psychic medium Alex Kelburn, who appears again in ‘The Waiting Gate’. A charismatic psychic medium, Alex works hard to bring comfort to the bereaved, but when his world is devastated by tragedy, the aftershocks lead him to a heartbreaking choice: either he must shut down the precious psychic gift he was born with, or carry on but risk losing the woman he loves. While he is struggling with his grief and bewilderment, he meets Lily and Scott, who are looking forward to the arrival of their first child. Their world is shattered by a fatal accident, triggering an appalling chain of events into which Alex is inexorably drawn, forcing him to decide where his future lies.
7. Do you plan to write another book(s) in the future? Do you have details you can share?
There will be another Alex Kelburn novel. The plotline will encompass near-death experience and the right to choose the time and manner of death, and I am currently researching these subjects.
8. What/who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve been an avid reader all my life, but there’s no particular person or book that inspired me to become an author. I loved writing poems and short stories at school, and it was a stated ambition of mine that I would write a novel some day.
9. Do you have a ‘day job’ or do you work solely as an author?
I don’t have a paid job. I am a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind, participating in fundraising events and providing short-term boarding for puppies in training and working Guide Dogs. I’m hoping my newly-acquired Labrador, Edie, will pass the assessment for Pets as Therapy in six months’ time so we can visit hospices and care homes together.
10. What are your thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry? Are you happy that it has evolved so fast in recent years? Do you believe self-publishing is a force for good?
Increasing opportunities for indie authors is a force for good and has shaken things up a bit. The downside is that more and more books, not all of them well-written, are piling in to what some consider an already saturated market. With so many books available, retailers are still in the main ignoring indie in favour of traditionally published books, and so authors have to work doubly hard to get noticed. Money remains a large factor: indie publishing is expensive, whereas the big traditional publishers can afford to pay for the window displays, marketing and advertising, etc.
11. What’s next for you?
I would like to get the next Alex Kelburn novel written this year and I hope to be able to republish ‘Orders From Above’ within the next three years. I am also considering undertaking some formal study about death and dying.
12. If you could get a glowing review from three people who would they be and why?
The best review I could wish for would be from someone grieving because they’ve lost someone dearly loved to illness or dementia and were reassured and uplifted by the premise of ‘The Waiting Gate’.
I’d love to be reviewed in the The New York Times, as it is a publication that garners respect and has a very wide readership. If one is lucky enough to get onto the best seller list, a study has shown that it boosts a book’s sales even more.
Lastly, a review from one of the well-known psychic mediums, such as Tony Stockwell or T J Higgs would be wonderful, as they would endorse the afterlife elements of my writing to their many followers.
For more on J Merrill Forrest visit her website https://www.jmforrest.com/
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