Thursday, November 6, 2014

Magic Thursday with Special Guest Vanessa Barneveld This is Your Afterlife + Giveaway!

It's my absolute pleasure to welcome Vanessa Barneveld onto Magic Thursday this week to help celebrate the release of her debut novel, This is Your Afterlife. I've been intrigued with this book since she first mentioned it way back when we were doing our own version of NANO (except our version includes lots of cyber chocolate and the occasional wet kipper!) Vanessa is generously offering an e-copy of her book to one commenter!


Someone to Watch Over Me
by Vanessa Barneveld

Thank you so much to Christina Phillips for inviting me onto the Dark Side DownUnder blog! I’m almost embarrassed to confess, right here on Magic Thursday, that I don’t have a magical bone in my body. No psychic ability, no talent for turning Tarot cards, and no way can I talk to ghosts like Keira, the heroine of my debut paranormal YA, This Is Your Afterlife.

But, occasionally, I get a niggling sensation that someone’s watching over me. Someone invisible.




When my sisters and I were under the age of seven, we lived in a rambling old house in Brisbane. As the youngest, I remember its wild garden as being a haven for millions of snakes. My sisters have a different recollection of the place. Like most kids, they loved to jump high on the bed or on living room furniture. But in this house, instead of falling straight down again, my siblings’ little bodies would float like feathers on the wind. When she grew up, my middle sister thought maybe she’d dreamt that “game”. One day, our eldest sister asked her, “Do you remember when we used to float around...?” And she did remember. They compared memories of being carried around by an invisible force in slow motion. Neither felt scared at the time. It was just good fun.

That haunted house I was born in eventually made way for the South-East Freeway. Bulldozed and concreted over. The poor snakes have hopefully slithered on to a new habitat. But I often wonder about that ghost and whether he/she helps drivers safely off the Gaza Road exit ramp.




A few years ago, I travelled to San Francisco not long after my stepmother passed away. She’d lived there when she was young and loved it. One day, I walked for miles up and down those steep roads, stopping only for a clam chowder and a Ghirardelli chocolate or two or three or five. Eventually, I got so tired I hopped on a trolley back to Union Square. Once on board, I realised I didn’t have enough money to feed into the ticket machine. (Because I’d spent it all on chocolate...)

The trolley started rumbling and I couldn’t jump off. A woman behind me called out and said, “I have a dollar for you.” I turned around. My benefactor looked exactly like my stepmother. Right down to her smile, the way she dressed, the greying hair woven into a bun atop her head. I was too stunned to say anything except “thank you.” I walked past her and clung onto a rail, not taking my eyes off her. Occasionally, she’d turn my way and smile. When the trolley neared my stop, I moved up in order to thank her again. Someone pushed in front of me for a second or two. When I reached the woman’s seat, she’d vanished. Vanished, I tell you!

But where could she have gone? I knew she hadn’t disembarked. I’d been watching her the whole time but for two seconds. She’d disappeared in the blink of an eye. After that, I had to chow down on a lot more chocolate and mull over what just happened on that tram. Was she a guardian angel watching over me, handing out pocket money? Was she my stepmother’s ghost? A Doppelganger? Or was she a figment of my writer’s vivid imagination? I guess I’ll never know for sure!

I’d love to know, do you think someone invisible is watching over you? Leave a comment for your chance to win a Kindle edition of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE (Bloomsbury Spark).

Haunt me at my cyber homes:




This Is Your Afterlife book trailer from Vanessa Barneveld on Vimeo.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Vanessa! Hi Christina! Wow, Vanessa, those two stories gave me goosebumps. How utterly amazing. I love to think of your stepmother coming back and saving you from embarrassment in San Francisco. And how amazing about the floating kids. I'm not particularly psychic either although, like you, occasionally I get that tingly feeling. My mother, on the other hand, could be uncanny about things she'd predict. Unfortunately the gift was erratic and it was never about things like winning Lotto numbers. But when she got THAT feeling, you knew to trust it. I remember she had it once in a big writing contest I'd entered when they'd announced the finalists - and then discovered they'd left one off a week afterward. Guess who that was? And my mother kept saying, "You're there. I know you're there." And I was!

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    1. Anna, I'd like to think it was my stepmother's way of helping me out from the other side too! My sisters thought it was such fun to play those games. Isn't that amazing about your mother's contest prediction? I wish I could be so confident of the future (and of upcoming lotto numbers) sometimes! Thanks so much for coming to the DarkSide!

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  2. HI Vanessa and Christina! I'm with Anna on the goosebumps after reading your ghostly encounters, Vanessa! But it's fascinating to read your experiences and wouldn't it be great to "know"! I wonder what happened to the ghost from the old house - it sounds like it had a lovely sense of fun and enjoyed having you and your sisters around.

    I'm not sure if I have any psychic sense, though occasionally I get a strong sixth sense feeling sometimes that I should avoid something or avoid going somewhere. Within reason, I don't ignore it. Though it's a bit of a balancing act because my subconscious can throw up all sorts of irrational thoughts if it doesn't want me to move out of my comfort zone!

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    1. Hello there, Sharon! So glad you could join me here. I think you're wise to trust your sixth sense. Better to be safe than sorry, right? Sometimes I'll be walking around town and I'lI get a deep sense of foreboding. It's really twitchy, uncomfortable feeling that I can't ignore. Best thing to do is take another route, even if means arriving late at my destination!

      Whoever that ghost was s/he must have loved having kids around. I was too young to remember anything about the floating games, but I do remember being really happy in that house. My dad even wanted to have the house move to another block of land, but in the end it was destroyed. :/ I so hope the ghost found a new place to live too!

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  3. Hi Vanessa and waving to Christina
    Vanessa your considerable skills as a story teller are really to the fore in the telling of your spooky stories. I love the idea of a benevolent force playing with your sisters and your encounter with your stepmother - or was she? - was kindly too. I have to say I'm way more scared by the idea of the millions of snakes slithering in the yard...
    Congratulations on the launch of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE - I've started to read it and am really enjoying it!

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  4. Kandy, thanks so much for your lovely words! I'm so glad to hear you're reading and enjoying AFTERLIFE.

    I'm also glad my sisters', er, playmate was so kind and friendly! I might've exaggerated a little on the number of snakes, but I do remember a close encounter with *one* snake. Fortunately, it didn't harm me. Maybe the ghost intervened that time too!

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  5. Vanessa, I've joined the goosebump brigade too, reading your post. Nice goosebumps but goosebumps nevertheless!

    No, I've never had the feeling I was being watched over or protected like that. I'm not sure if I'd be thrilled or scared. But I love reading about such experiences. I'm so looking forward to your DEBUT RELEASE - Yay! Huge congratulations on this book. Having read some earlier work of yours I know it's going to be such fun.

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  6. I do have more real-life goosebump-inducing stories for you, Ann, but I'll save those for another time. Maybe when we're nursing mugs of hot Lindt chocolate together. ;) The experience with my "stepmother" wasn't so much scary as it was bewildering! As for my sisters, I'm not sure our parents knew just how often they jumped all over the furniture like that. But they sure had a lot of fun with their ghost pal.

    Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoy This Is Your Afterlife!

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  7. It is fascinating. I do believe. My mother very strongly believes. I have not had any encounters like yours though.

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    1. Nice to meet another believer, Mary! Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  8. why did I have to read this late at night before going to bed!!!!??? Fascinating stuff though. I've had a few too many 'weird' things happen but can't say I enjoyed the experience. Your book looks great too =)

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  9. Mel, I hope you managed to get a good night's rest after all! I have had one creepy experience involving a book that kept shifting around in my bookcase BY ITSELF! I don't own that book anymore…

    But it's my great pleasure to give you an e-copy of This Is Your Afterlife! Congrats! Please contact me on ness (at) vanessa . barneveld (dot) com and let me know if you'd prefer a Kindle copy or an iBooks copy.

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  10. Sorry I'm late with this, Vanessa. I wanted to say congrats on your release. It's burning a hole on my iPhone demanding to be read. :)

    As for your stories, totally spooky but neat since in both situations those watching were nice.

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