Ruby Release: This Is Your Afterlife!

It’s Shea Berkley here and I am so excited to introduce Vanessa Barneveld’s debut Young Adult book, This Is Your Afterlife! USA Today called it a “must read!” Clink your champagne glass to the screen and give a shout out to Vanessa. YAY, Vanessa!!!

If I had confetti, I’d throw it in the air, but me being me, I’d accidently chuck it in Vanessa’s eyes and blind her, so thank God this is a virtual party and not an in-person party. (Upside, she can’t see me dance. Downside, she can’t see me dance and I’ll have to eat the cake I bought her all by myself.)

Shea Berkley - is that a chocolate cake or a Vegemite cake?

Shea Berkley – is that a chocolate cake or a Vegemite cake?

The cover for This Is Your Afterlife is gorgeous and the book’s premise is awesome, so let’s give our blog readers a sneak peek, shall we?

When the one boy you crushed on in life can’t seem to stay away in death, it’s hard to be a normal teen when you’re a teen paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Keira Nolan has finally got what she wanted—the captain of the football team in her bedroom. Problem is he’s not in the flesh. He’s a ghost and she’s the only one who can see him.

Keira’s determined to do anything to find Jimmy’s killer. Even it if means teaming up with his prickly-yet-dangerously-attractive brother, Dan, also Keira’s ex-best-friend. Keira finds that her childish crush is fading, but her feelings for Dan are just starting to heat up, and as the story of Jimmy’s murder unfolds, anyone could be a suspect.

This thrilling debut from Vanessa Barneveld crosses over from our world to the next, and brings a whole delightful new meaning to “teen spirit”.

This Is Your Afterlife (Bloomsbury Spark)

This Is Your Afterlife
(Bloomsbury Spark –
digital-first imprint)

Gorgeous cover, right? It’s now time to play Question or Dare. Ready Vanessa? Don’t be scared. Be terrified.

Let’s begin. (clapping hands together in a perky, annoying way)

SHEA: Question. What’s it like being so stunningly beautiful? It appears to have no bearing to what you write, but that’s not really true. Being so naturally beautiful, I suspect it gives you far more time to write. (See the connection?) So, what’s your writing schedule like?

VANESSA: Shea, you tell me what it’s like being stunningly beautiful, because I have no idea! I bet you have people falling over themselves to write your books for you! My writing schedule is a mixed bag. I do try to be disciplined, but ultimately my scatterbrained approach to almost everything takes over. What I try to do is go to the gym as soon as the day job’s over, write for an hour, do house stuff/emails/pat the cats, then write for an hour. Rinse and repeat until bedtime, which is usually around 11pm.

SHEA: Dare. Take a picture of yourself the moment you wake up (and no cheating like Kristen Wiig did in the movie Friends with Kids) and post the picture here.

Here’s a picture of me just before waking up. This counts, yes? I’m surprised you don’t have any photos of me first thing in the morning seeing as we’ve roomed together at RWA. Or do you…?


SHEA: Question. Did you ever have the captain of the football team (or any team) in your teenage bedroom?

VANESSA: Back then I thought I’d been doused in some kind of boy repellent at birth. I didn’t go on any dates, and thus my chance of luring a team sportsman of any kind to my bedroom was nil. To compensate for this sad state of affairs, I plastered all four walls and the ceiling with Duran Duran posters.

SHEA: Dare. Take a picture or video tape yourself eating a tablespoon of your favorite (that’s favourite to you) yeast extract such as Marmite or Vegemite and post the pic/video here. (For those unfamiliar with yeast extract, it is hands down the nastiest thing Australians force their innocent children to eat.)

VANESSA: I appreciate your concession to Australian English spelling, Shea! Due to the Great Vegemite Shortage of October 2014, I’m forced to ration my supply. So I indulged in a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of Vegemite.

ImageImage 1













Rubies and gentlemen, this is how you’re meant to enjoy yeast extract – on toast with lashings of butter. Note how thin and sparse the layer of Vegemite is!


SHEA: Question. When writing Keira’s story about dealing with the undead, what kind of research did you do? Have you ever seen a ghost?

VANESSA:  When I was growing up, ghost talk was the norm. My mother has countless stories and a lot of them filter naturally into my ghost books. I’m not sure whether I’ve seen a spirit myself, but I’ve had a number of what I believe are ghost encounters. I stayed in a New York hotel that was beautiful by day, chilling by night. I saw an eerie and inexplicable blue light, and heard rapping on the wall (and not the Jay-Z kind of rapping). One night, I dreamt I was yanked out of bed by my feet. The next morning, I had a gigantic bruise that went right through the thickness of my foot. Huge as that bruise was, it disappeared the following day.

SHEA: Take a picture of the scariest thing in your house and post it here.

VANESSA: Okay, now, that would be me first thing in the morning! Second-scariest thing is this Secret Santa present my husband received. Don’t ask me what it’s still doing in our house. I must stress these briefs have never been worn, merely inspected…and laughed at.


SHEA: Question. You have quite a bit of supernatural things going on in your book. What was the most fun to write and why?

VANESSA: The most fun parts were the scenes featuring the dead guy, Jimmy. I loved the interaction between him and Keira. The bittersweet irony is that shy Keira was invisible to him when he was alive. As an invisible-to-everyone-else ghost, he forms a meaningful friendship with Keira.

SHEA: Dare. Go outside and yell at the top of your lungs “Buffy the Vampire Slayer sucks.”

Joss Whedon - creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon – creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

VANESSA: Due to noise restrictions in my neighbourhood (neighborhood to you), I cannot complete this task. Besides, I’m surrounded by Buffy fans. You don’t want me to be driven out of my home, do you?


SHEA: Question. What about This Is Your Afterlife compelled you to write it?

VANESSA: Frankly, I was possessed. True story. The title came to me first, and then the basic premise: What would you do if the boy you had a rampant crush on died and only you could see his ghost? Jimmy the ghost popped in to my head as a character right away. The other players soon came along, begging me to put them in the book. (See, I told you I was possessed!)

SHEA: Dare. Videotape yourself telling a stranger about your book and post it here.

VANESSA: Ohhh, what is it with you and video? How about I get a bunch of strangers, cast them in a book trailer, and post it here? Okay? Excellent!

Shea, thanks so much for putting me through these dares and questions. Yes, I was terrified! Phew! So glad that’s over. 🙂

To celebrate my debut and Shea’s fun interview, I’m giving away a Kindle edition of This Is Your Afterlife! Just send us a dare for Shea to complete and you could win!!!! Ah, I’m kidding. All you have to do is tell us about the scariest book or movie you’ve read or seen.

Social links

Vanessa’s website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book!

Bloomsbury Spark |Amazon | iTunes Australia | iTunes US | Google Play | Kobo | B&N


83 responses to “Ruby Release: This Is Your Afterlife!”

  1. Annie West says:

    Loved this interview! Thanks Shea and Vanessa.

    Vanessa, I had no idea you had so many ghostly encounters. Perhaps it runs in the family?

    Dare I confess, I’m easily scared by films? In my teens one particular vampire movie had me avoiding dark rooms for weeks. Then later I saw a Brian de Palma film where someone was strangled in a toilet cubicle and for ages afterwards really didn’t want to visit a restroom.

    • Hi, Annie! Thanks so much for swinging by. Shea really outdid herself with these questions and dares. Sarah Michelle Gellar (who played Buffy) is in Sydney right now. I didn’t *dare* shout out, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer sucks!”

      It’s okay, Annie, I’m easily scared by horror films, too. The good ones — and even the B-, C-, or D-movies — can put that germ of fear into you. I’m wondering which Brian de Palma film had so much of an impact on you now. Whatever it is, I’ll cross it off my “to watch” list!

      Ghost encounters definitely run in my family. Only this morning my sister shared a sighting she had while holidaying in France. So creepy!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      And this is why I only use my own toilet in the privacy of my own home. I don’t wish to die in a public restroom. Ewww. Thanks for dropping by, Annie!

  2. Annie West says:

    And I forgot to say how much I’m looking forward to this book, Vanessa. It sounds just fabulous!

  3. Kim Law says:

    Such a fun interview! Congrats again, Vanessa. I can’t wait to read this book. It looks and sounds amazing!!

  4. Hi Vanessa and Shea
    Great interview! I loveVegemite but Vegemite cake? Shudder!
    THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE is such a clever concept, Vanessa. I am reading it now and thoroughly enjoying it.
    Scary movies? I haven’t see one recently but I’m addicted to gruesome British TV thrillers and forensics. My family don’t get that I enjoy shows with so much screaming going on! I don’t think I’ll be screaming reading your book, Vanessa, but I am going to enjoy finding out who turned Jimmy into a ghost!

    • Kandy, I love Vegemite too, but not *that* much!

      I’m so glad to hear you’re already reading and enjoying THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE. It’s not as scary as those ‘Breefs’ in the picture above, is it? 😉

      I’ve also been watching a few gruesome British dramas lately. The Tunnel was the last series I watched (though, I think it was based on a French/Danish production). I’d still take take a Poirot or Marple movie any day, though!

      Thanks so much for coming by to help me celebrate! 🙂

  5. jbrayweber says:

    What a funtastic interview, ladies. Love the pics and the dares.
    Though I can’t say that I’ve ever had a paranormal encounter, I am fascinated by the stories and lore.

    I must put tasting vegemite on my bucket list.

    CONGRATULATIONS on your release, V. May your sales skyrocket!


  6. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Yay, Vanessa! And how much fun is it to have your own personal, private band to create your book trailer music for you???!!

  7. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Fun post, Shea and Vanessa! Congratulations on your first release, V!!!!! I’m so thrilled for you. This is your afterlife sounds great. Wishing you many, many, many sales.

  8. Vivi Andrews says:

    LOL I’m dying here. I love the truth or dare. CONGRATS on your release, Vanessa! I’m an avid YA reader (cuz I’m mature like that) and cannot wait to dig into this one!

    I have a low scary threshold. Last week I put on Carrie and the doors in my apartment started opening and closing on their own. So I stopped watching Carrie. A little too much life-imitates-art for me.

    • Shea Berkley says:

      I hope it was your cats being…well…catlike. Mine could open doors.

    • Vivi, I nearly *died* when I received Shea’s questions and dares! But they’re so much fun, just like Shea.

      Okay, your Carrie story is officially freaking me out!!!!

      This is going to sound a little crazy, but at my new office we have an office ghost who randomly rings the doorbell. We know it’s the ghost because it uses either a longer-than-usual chime or a short “ding-ding!” to let us know s/he’s there. Of course, when you open the door, there’s absolutely no one around.

      During the revision stages of my book, sometimes I would open the document at my office. (I hope my boss isn’t reading this…) Every time I opened it or emailed my editor, the ghost would ring the doorbell. Freaky.

      I hope you get a chance to read This Is Your Afterlife! Please tell me if your doorbell rings when you open it!

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Oh, my gosh!!!

        The ghost knew what you were doing….and is probably thrilled that you’re writing ghost stories!

        • Elisa, it happened without fail! One day, I answered the door and there was no one on the porch as usual. But lying on the doormat was a ticket for a show at the Sydney Opera House. The show was called ‘Festival of Dangerous Ideas — the History of Violence’. Now, THAT was freaky!

  9. Pintip says:

    This interview is HILARIOUS!

    I have a few comments:
    1. You are BOTH stunningly beautiful.
    2. Now that I know that there is a Vegemite shortage, I’m even more honored to have my very own tube. Although I did scandalize Vanessa by trying my first bite of it with a piece of pasta.
    3. That is a LOT of butter. Looks like a scoop of ice cream. Are you sure it’s not ice cream?
    4. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Vanessa cheated on half her dares. What do you think, Shea?
    5. And finally: this book is scary good!!

    Thanks for a nice laugh this morning, you two!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      Vanessa absolutely cheated, and now I must take my revenge. Sadly, I’m not in the revenge business, so I’ll just give her glaring looks next time I see her. The guilt she’ll feel will be debilitating.

    • Hi, Pintip! Thanks so much for being here today and always!

      All right, I did squib on some of those dares and I can feel Shea’s guilt-inducing glares from here.

      You have to understand, the *real* Buffy is in town and she would totally kick my butt if she heard me yelling out nasty things about her.

      LOL to the ice-cream comment. It’s actually a poached egg sitting on the thin layer of Vegemite and thick layer of butter and even thicker layer of sourdough.

      Actually, Pintip, Nigella Lawson has a simple spaghetti with Marmite recipe, so you were really onto something!

      • Pintip says:

        Vanessa, I am totally trying that recipe! Unlike Shea, I actually kinda like Vegemite. 🙂 Not sure what the difference is between Vegemite and Marmite, though. Doesn’t it sound like *termites* to you? Hmmm… This recipe has lots of potential…

        • Oh, I’m so glad to hear you like (love???) Vegemite! I can assure you that Marmite, Vegemite and Promite are not as destructive as termites. Marmite and Promite taste a little sweeter than Vegemite. You should try them all for yourself…

  10. Fabulous interview! I was laughing at 6:15 AM – incredible : )

    The book looks so intriguing and the cover is gorgeous! Huge congrats, Vanessa!

  11. June Love says:

    Vanessa, congratulations on your release! Shea, what an entertaining interview. Remind me not to play Truth or Dare with you. 🙂

    Everything about This Is Your Afterlife intrigues me. I wish you much success with it.

    I’m a wuss when it comes to scary movies. I did watch some when I was younger, but the older I got, the more they disturbed me. I used to watch Ghost Whisperer on television and sometimes it would even scare me. Like I said…big wuss. 🙂

    • Thank you for the lovely well wishes, June! Ohhh, I’m so looking forward to the day Shea questions or dares you for your debut! But I hope she’ll be easier on you than she was on me. 😉

      I’m a wuss with movies too. I loved Ghost Whisperer. They did a really good job with making the spirits seem sinister at first, so I understand why the show scared you.

  12. Tamara Hogan says:

    What a fun interview, ladies, and happy book release, Vanessa!

    I can read horror until the cows come home – there’s something about reading that puts just the right amount of intellectual distance between me and what I’m reading – and I have a high tolerance for gory/violent visuals. But add sound effects, and my stress level ratchets up exponentially. I’m more easily triggered by what I hear than what I see, if that makes sense. “The Shining”, probably my favorite scary movie of all time, isn’t nearly as frightening to me without the GENIUS soundtrack and sound effects.

    Sound effects or no, the picture of those man panties – manties? Horrifying. 😉

    • Shea Berkley says:

      This totally makes sense to me, Tammy. When I was young, I saw Friday the Thirteenth and the sound effects nearly did me in. I chose to cover my ears instead of my eyes.

    • Thank you, Tammy! Wow, you’ve added a new word to my lexicon — manties!

      I wish I had your power to distance myself intellectually from what I’m reading or watching. When I was a teenager, I read the Amityville Horror in one sleepless night. And then I had to put the book outside because I. Could. Not. Have. That. Book. In. My. House. The fact it was based on a true story made it even creepier.

      Huge kudos to film sound designers. Those discordant, stabbing violin screeches add so much more horror.

      I still haven’t seen all of the Shining! Every writer ought to check it out, though, right? One day I’ll put on my big boys’ manties and watch it…

  13. Hi Shea! Hi Vanessa! Hi Rubies! What a fun interview! Shea, you do like to torture your subjects, don’t you? The spoonful of vegemite? Bleuch! Vanessa, huge congratulations on the release of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE! A star is born!!!!!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      I lived in England for a few years and I just couldn’t get over the yeast extract thing. My British friends couldn’t understand peanut butter and jelly, so it all evened out in the end. Vanessa was a good sport in playing along, even if she did cheat a little.

    • Hi, Anna! Aw, aren’t you lovely? I really couldn’t have come this far as a writer without you. In this galaxy, you are my sun! 🙂

      Now that I think of it, I don’t remember seeing Vegemite in your pantry. I just zeroed in on the Ferrero Rochers and Champagne…

      Thanks so much for tweeting and for coming to witness the torture! Actually, it was a lot of fun — Shea is on a level with Barbara Walters in terms of interview technique.

  14. That was an absolute riot! Thank you Shea and Vanessa for the fun read. And wow- that was a scary ghost story with the bruised foot. Brrr.
    Love to both of you. I’m tweeting this for sure!

    • Hi, Amy! Thanks so much for visiting me here and for tweeting.

      You know, I very nearly checked out of that hotel, but it was just such a charming little place…in the daytime. I can’t explain that bruise. I know I hadn’t injured my foot during waking hours. And normally even a tiny bruise hangs around for at least a week. This ginormous one went away the next day.

      Much love to you, too! Mwah!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      I’m glad you dropped by, Amy!

  15. What a hilarious interview, Shea and Vanessa. Those men’s…whatever they are, well I have no words.

    Congratulations on your release, Vanessa! I love that cover, and I’m sure I’ll love the book too. Can’t wait!

    • Hi, Tina! I’m so glad you enjoyed Question or Dare by Shea Berkley™ and I hope you like This Is Your Afterlife just as much. I love that cover too — my designer Jenny Zemanek was so excited when Bloomsbury commissioned her. She did a wonderful job.

      As for the manties, as Tammy called them… Eeek! I wonder if I should offer them as a prize.

      Thanks for coming by!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      Thanks, Tina. Vanessa was a doll.

  16. You two are a riot! What a fun interview and I am SUPER excited about Vanessa’s debut!

    I read The Exorcist when I was in junior high. Read it once and gave the book away. It frightened me that much. I have no idea why. I’ve read everything Stephen King has ever written and none of it has bothered me as much as that book did.

    I work at Walmart. It is tough to scare me!

    • Louisa, thanks so much for celebrating with me! So glad you enjoyed the interview — Shea’s simply brilliant. I am pushing for a regular Question or Dare by Shea Berkley (™) column!

      The Exorcist was based on real-life cases. *Shudder* Do you think that’s why it was all the more terrifying for you? Because that’s how I felt after reading The Amityville Horror, which was also based on truth. My paperback edition had illustrations of flies throughout the pages. If you know the story, you’ll know the significance of those flies. Horrifying!

      • I think you have hit on it, Vanessa. Real cases like that always had the twist of what might happen because it already has. Flies on every page?? SHUDDER!

        • And those events could happen again! Apparently, in the Amityville case, the horror followed the Lutz family after they escaped the house.

          The flies weren’t on every page, but I remember giving a little squeal the first time I saw them!

    • Shea Berkley says:

      I’ve seen those “Only at Walmart” posts people put up. Horrifying! My hat’s off to you!

  17. Shea and Vanessa, what a fun post! I laughed at your “vegemite” face! Blah, vegemite on a teaspoon – better you than me! So totally NOT the way to enjoy the tasty black stuff!

    Vanessa, congratulations on the release of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE! I’m so excited for you that the day has arrived and your story is now OUT THERE for people to enjoy! I have my copy safely tucked on my computer and I can’t wait to read!

    One of the scariest movies I’ve seen is The Changeling. About a little boy who was murdered and then haunted a large mansion looking to avenge his death. I can still remember what a ghastly night’s sleep I had after that.

    • Hi, Sharon!!! Thanks so much for coming by and extra special thanks for buying This Is Your Afterlife. I really appreciate it!

      Yikes! I just took a peek at the trailer for The Changeling. The slamming doors reminded me of Vivi’s comment up there at 9:19am!

      You’re right about Vegemite — it’s not like Nutella! You should never, ever eat it by the spoonful unless you are doing a Question or Dare with Shea Berkley ™ challenge!

      • Shea Berkley says:

        How can you compare the two, Vanessa? I understand Nutella. Can someone just explain the draw of Vegemite and its equally disgusting cousins? I honestly don’t get it.

        • Well, for mine, Vegemite tastes the best out of the mighty ‘mite triad. It just adds a nice bit of saltiness to any meal. As the jingle goes “It puts the rose in every cheek.” It’s very difficult for me to eat toast with just butter on it. Need to have the Vegemite. You can have the toast/butter/Vegemite combo with eggs or sautéed mushrooms or avocado.

  18. Yay, Vanessa!!! The book sounds AWESOME. I’m so thrilled for you and you two put on a fabulous interview. {{hugs!}}

  19. Hey! Two of my favorite people all doing dares and questions without me! So unfair.
    Loved the interview! It was so fun. I seem to remember a dare for Shea during an RWA luncheon….hmmmm….I might have that on video. Shall I post it??? 🙂
    Vanessa, I remember that story about the bruised foot from our Ghost Tour Day in San Antonio. I still can’t believe how those dowsing/divining rods really worked. And then we stayed up very late telling our scary stories. Those rods have to be in your next installment. There IS a next installment, right????
    Congrats again on your book! They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I think it’s okay. 🙂 The cover is just as beautiful as your writing and characters.
    Shea, how about that video? **wink, wink**

    • Shea Berkley says:

      You have an evil streak, sweetheart. If you post that video, you will be dead to me. Vanessa will write a lovely story about how you met your end. I know people…

  20. Kim, thanks so much for joining us! I had a feeling you’d show up sooner or later saying really lovely things about my book! 😉 I can’t thank you enough for helping me get This Is Your Afterlife published! I am indeed working on a follow-up book.

    I’m still spooked about those divining rods on the San Antonio ghost tour. All we had to do was think of a landmark or a person around us and the rods would point straight to them!

    But, yes, the freakiest part was later on when you told me all of your ghost stories! You also told me I HAVE to watch a movie called The Conjuring. Well, I found the trailer. I had to stop it at 47 seconds because it shows a scene where a haunted woman is dragged out of her bed. By her feet.

  21. Elisa Beatty says:

    Sorry to arrive so late to the party!

    Adorable interview, guys, and CONGRATS, Vanessa!!!! Here’s to lots and lots of sales!!

    And that story about the ghost hotel…..EEEEP!!!

  22. Thanks so much to everyone for celebrating my novel debut! Shea, thank you for hosting me. Sorry I only did 50% of each dare!

    The randomly chosen winner of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE is…

    **Vivi Andrews**

    Yay! Congrats, Vivi. I’ll be in touch. 🙂


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