Delighted to announce that today my blog’s a way station on bestselling science-fiction author Amanda Bridgeman’s official blog tour celebrating the release of Aurora: Centralis, fourth instalment in the Aurora series, published by Momentum.
Born and raised in the seaside/country town of Geraldton, Western Australia, Amanda hails from fishing and farming stock. The youngest of four children, her three brothers raised her on a diet of Rocky, Rambo, Muhammad Ali and AC/DC. Naturally, she grew up somewhat of a tomboy, preferring to watch action/sci-fi films over the standard rom-com, and liking her music rock hard. But that said, she can swoon with the best of them and is really not a fan of bugs!
The three earlier books in the Aurora series: Darwin, Pegasus, Meridian have been bestsellers and received rave reviews, and just recently, the third book in the series, Aurora: Meridian, was shortlisted in the science fiction category of the prestigious Aurealis Awards.
Congratulations, and welcome, Amanda!
Living with The Afterlife
by Amanda Bridgeman
The afterlife, or what happens to us once we die, plays a part in the Aurora series. A hint of it appears in Aurora: Darwin and as the series progresses, more and more light is shed upon it, until finally it comes to the forefront in Aurora: Centralis. This particular plot thread weaves is way through Harris’ story. He dreams of his deceased grandmother and great-grandmother, and feels their ‘presence’ during his waking hours. This particular part of Harris’ story was inspired by tales and experiences relating to my own grandmother and great-grandmother.
My first true experience of the death of a loved one came at the age of 15 when my grandmother, my mother’s mother, passed away in her sleep in the early hours of the morning. My grandfather was up early that day, readying for a planned trip to the Abrolhos Islands with his son. He went to shake my grandmother awake to tell her he was leaving, but alas she never awoke. Upon receiving the news, my parents had stolen away to their house to see my grandmother, and then they came back to the house to wake me and tell me the news. I remember being in shock and jumping out of bed to make my mother a coffee. I had spent much time with my grandmother and her passing was a loss to all.
Strangely enough, that night when I went to sleep I had a dream. It was a strange dream, but a nice one none-the-less. I stood in a car park and some distance away I saw my grandmother standing with my pop. They were about to get into a car and drive away somewhere. I called out to her but my voice didn’t carry. Somehow she heard me though. She looked over to me, smiled, and raised her hand to wave at me. It was very much a goodbye wave. I smiled and waved back, and then they drove away. And I remember thinking at the time that that wasn’t just a dream. I truly believed it was my grandmother making contact from ‘the other side’ to say goodbye to me.
But wait, there’s more. There’s a lot more.
When my father was young he contracted polio. He was living on a farm in the small country town of Northampton and had to be transferred to a hospital in Perth, some 5-6 hours away by car. His father had to manage their farm and his mother had to take care of his 4 siblings, so they couldn’t visit with my father all the time. My father’s grandmother (his mother’s mother) however, lived in what was then an outer suburb of Perth and she made it her business to catch the train in every Sunday to visit him in hospital. He was only 6 years old at the time, and the two become close. Years later, when I was about 9 years old, his grandmother passed away, but it would seem she did not leave him.
One night my father was in the local pub in Geraldton, and the man – let’s call him Ron – who had recently bought and moved into our old house called him over to his table to speak with him. Ron said to my father that he was probably going to think him crazy, but he asked if our house had been haunted. My father told him no, that we had never experienced anything. Ron said that his wife – let’s call her Kelly – kept telling him she had seen the ghost of an old woman, standing by the fridge as though looking inside. Whenever Kelly entered the room, she would see this old lady look up and smile, then just fade away. Kelly said she never felt threatened by this apparition – it was just an old woman with gentle smile. Ron thought her crazy until one night, in the middle of the night, he awoke to see an image of an old woman standing beside the bed and leaning over Kelly who lay beside him. Ron said he wasn’t afraid, just shocked, as this old woman seemed to checking on them, looking for someone. And the way Ron described the woman to my father, it was the spitting image of his grandmother: she wore a quaker style of dress, round glasses, her hair was pulled into a bun, and she had a shawl pulled across her shoulders. And the funny thing is, my father’s grandmother was known for her appetite – even in her 90’s – so visions of her standing by the fridge are rather hilariously on the mark!
So, although she had passed, my great-grandmother was still checking on my father. But alas he had moved house, and she was obviously wondering where he’d gone.
Now my mother eventually told me this story years later when I was an early-mid teen. My brother, Ross, had been there at the time as well and I remember us looking at each other wide-eyed and, to be honest, a little freaked out. I distinctly remember my brother saying ‘I wish you hadn’t told us that!’. Of course for the next little while we found ourselves scouring every room we entered for her presence – you know, just in case she found our new address…
Now, however, I look back on that story with warmth. The fact that a love, a family bond could be so strong as to hold through different worlds, different realms, is really quite phenomenal. If I hadn’t dreamed that dream of my own grandmother, or heard this story of my father’s grandmother, I probably wouldn’t have believed in ghosts or the afterlife. But now I have, I find it hard to ignore.
Are ghosts real? Does the afterlife exist? Or is it simply that they live on in our hearts and minds and that is how we see them – that is what becomes the true place of the afterlife: within us. Based on my real life experiences, this is what I explore in the Aurora series with the character of Captain Saul Harris – whether or not that doorway exists.
Amanda’s website: http://amandabridgeman.com.au/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AmandaBridgemanAuthor