The premise is one any writer could appreciate: an afterlife reserved solely for scribes. The only problem is that there are two levels—one for the legends, and another for those who fade away. It doesn’t sound bad, until the writer learns he has to live in eternity with the knowledge that he wasn’t quite good enough.
However, dying isn’t the writer’s last chance at shaping his career. Many writers have gained literary fame long after they died. Richard Vetere’s The Writers Afterlife poses the possibility that those writers are a bigger part of their life, after death.
It’s a compelling hook, but unfortunately it never quite takes off into a must-read story.
Vetere writes of Tom Chillo at the event of his death at 44 years old. While typing midsentence on a screenplay, Chillo meets his end. Chillo goes to the writer’s afterlife where he encounters a number of legendary writers, as well as the knowledge that he can go back to Earth for a limited time to influence people who could shape his career and help him become immortal. If Chillo fails, he is stuck in a sort of writer’s purgatory, destined for an eternity of anxiety over his failure as a writer.
Vetere explores Chillo’s ambitions and anxieties. He’s a standard writer-type with a couple published novels and screenplays but never comes across as a character to root for or against. Chillo simply isn’t very interesting.
Vetere is a solid writer and this is serviceable, but such a great idea deserves so much more. The fire never catches with Tom Chillo and a cast of one-note supporting characters.