Chelsea Asks . . . Where did you get the idea of a story about a girl and her middle school life and
I remember very vividly when I thought of the idea for Happily Ever Afterlife. I was on the subway in New York City, where I live. The train car was empty, and I was with a friend who also worked in publishing. We were talking about books and series that had been successful in the recent past—
The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead—and it dawned on me that it seemed like the publishing world had covered almost every single kind of supernatural creature or entity except ghosts. That's not to say that a ghost never made an appearance in a book before, but I hadn't seen it done as a construct for an ongoing series. So that got me thinking . . . And the reason I was so quick to realize that ghosts were missing from this list is because I’ve actually always had a strange fascination with them. I watch A LOT of ghost hunter shows, and I’ve heard a lot of ghost stories. And not even 2% of me is a skeptic. I’m always the one on the edge of my seat saying, “And then what happened?” And then I'm afraid to go to sleep at night. What I find so intriguing is that no one really knows the answer. We don’t really know what happens to you after, or if you have a capability of going on in some way. And I find that exciting.
As for how the rules of the Afterlife work, well, when I started writing the series, I decided something very early on that dictated a lot about the world I created: I decided to keep the stories focused on the relationships that Lucy has with her friends at Limbo, and the relationship she has with herself—how she sees herself and the kind of person she wants to be—as opposed to the relationship between the world of the living and the ghost world. One of the things that excited me about this idea was that in a sense, the series sort of offers Lucy and her
friends a do-over—a chance to learn from mistakes they may have made down in the world of the living and not repeat them in the Afterlife. So I wanted to keep the readers focused on the present for Lucy and her friends, and that means keeping them focused on the Afterlife, not what came before that. But I also didn’t want the characters to not remember anything from their previous lives because I don’t think that’s realistic either. I wanted them to be able to call back to those important events and people in their lives without those memories holding them back in their new afterlives, because that’s something that happens a lot in life. People come in and our of our lives and they don’t always stick around forever. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t meaningful when they were actively in our lives, or that they aren’t still meaningful to us now even though they aren’t there. Ultimately, I wanted the series to be fun, funny, and exciting for readers, and I worried that focusing too much on the way the characters died or what happened in their past lives would detract from my main goal. I strove to create a world that feels very much like the real one, where the kids at Limbo Central struggle with the same types of problems as my readers do and will.