Monday, November 6, 2017

The Waiting Gate by J Merrill Forrest

The Waiting Gate
J Merrill Forrest

Publisher: Hashtag Press

Publication date: October 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9957806-6-8

Book Description:

Alex Kelburn is a psychic medium who knows full well where we go when we die for he has been there. But what about those in the grip of severe dementia whose minds have disconnected? Where, indeed, do they go? He knows he must find the answer. Not only for Erin, the caring, compassionate nurse who has asked it, but also for his own wife, and for friends Kallie and Trish, and the thousands of others who are grieving and bewildered because they have loved ones who have gradually disappeared until only their physical selves remain.

Working on the case of an unidentified little girl whose remains have been discovered in a shallow grave, he is gradually led to a new and wonderful understanding of just what is on the Other Side …

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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 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.


Interview with J Merrill Forrest, author of ‘Flight of the Kingfisher’ and ‘The Waiting Gate’

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
From my own experiences and from my interactions with other people from all walks of life. My brother died from cancer when he was just 30, my father from heart failure in his mid-70s and I had the agonising decision of switching off his life support, so I have those experiences and the aftermath of both of them to call upon. I have worked as a volunteer home-visitor for a hospice and as a communication support volunteer for The Stroke Association, which brought me into contact with some amazing and inspirational people. I have interviewed and had readings with several psychic mediums, who have given me wonderful evidence that life continues after death. I am genuinely interested in people and love to talk to and learn all about them, filing the details of their real-life stories in my mind, ready to weave them into my fictional characters.
How did you do research for your book?
I read extensively and, as well as calling on my own relevant experiences, I talked to people in a position to give me the information I needed. When I was a volunteer with the hospice, the lady I was visiting was terminally ill with cancer of the stomach, but either the cancer reached her brain or she had some form of dementia, because I saw first-hand a very rapid change in her behaviour. When I knew I was going to write this book, I recalled that incident and I set about interviewing several people who were dealing with dementia in a loved one. This included an elderly lady whose husband had exhibited the most challenging behaviours before diagnosis. At the time of the interview he was in care home, not recognising her or any members of his family. She was so open about everything, I admit I had to swallow some tears – this was her grief, not mine, and she was so stoic. I also worked with a specialist dementia care nurse, who gave me information about dementia care since the 1980s, answered my questions and read my manuscript as it was being written. For the plotline about the remains of a little girl being found in a shallow grave, I consulted a police inspector about murder procedures.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I am a volunteer boarder for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Having trained a puppy from 7 weeks to 13 months old and learned that the role requires almost full-time dedication, I realised I couldn’t take on another puppy while concentrating on writing. Being a boarder is ideal for me, as I look after puppies of various ages for short periods of time when their trainers are away. I continue their training, taking them everywhere with me, and I love how each dog has its own individual character. I get my best inspirations when walking with dogs.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I live quite near to Stonehenge and Avebury, so I would love to go back and witness why and how these sites were created by our ancestors, and learn from them the true purpose of these amazing structures.
What is your next project?
There are four quite different projects I’d like to work on for publication over the next two years or so, I just don’t know which one will be completed first:
- a fundraising book for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Throughout a whole year training a puppy I took hundreds of photographs of him and captioned them, so the story will be told in pictures from his point of view.
- a story about a telepathic girl, based on a short story I wrote years ago. The narrator is now in her middle years, looking back at the 1970s and the terrible consequences that ensued by being best friends with a troubled telepath.
- republish a novel originally published in 2012, ‘Orders From Above’. It’s a light-hearted comedy about angels causing havoc in a small Wiltshire village. I wasn’t happy with the quality of the book or the way the publisher handled the marketing and I took back the rights last year to rework it and give it a second chance.
- a third Alex Kelburn novel. All I have at the moment is a character horrifically injured in a traffic accident who doesn’t feel she has anything to live for. As is usual for me, the ideas are so fleeting I can’t grasp them yet, but I trust that all I need to know will come when the time is right.

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