I have always been a good girl. I’ve always been a girl who never gets into trouble. In fact, the one and only time that I do something even vaguely wrong, do you know what happens?I die.At least, that seems like the most logical explanation, given the circumstances.I remember impact.And then nothing.I open my eyes and look around. I am standing in front of the school gate.Of all places.It’s freezing. Something feels wrong. I’m just pulling my jacket further around myself when I hear a voice to my left.“You,” it says angrily.It startles me and I spin around to see Anthony.Of all people.Somehow I have gone from being in the car with Wade to standing in front of the school gate with the geekiest, most boring, weirdest nerd boy from my form.“You,” I snarl back at him.He sighs.I huff out a breath, which appears in front of my face because it’s so cold. It’s the middle of April. It shouldn’t be this cold.I look around and realise something is really wrong with this place.We’re standing on the road outside our school gate.Except we’re not.On the road, that is.I mean, we’re outside the school. Our school. And we’re standing on a road. But this isn’t the road. There are no cars. No houses. No sandwich shop opposite. There’s nothing but an endless country lane. There is nothing in either direction. Just a plain tarmac road. And trees. Lots of trees.I glance back at Anthony to see if he’s seeing this too. Obviously he is because he’s looking around, clearly just as bewildered as I am.I don’t usually talk to him. Sophie, my best friend, would laugh at me for even looking at our school’s biggest geek.“Oh, so I’m allowed to speak to you now?” he snaps.“Are you even seeing this?” I snap back. “What the hell happened?”“How am I supposed to know?”“You’re the one so enthralled by chemistry classes.”“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve your mind. I happen to find science interesting. Probably in the same way that you find painting your fingernails interesting.”“Oh, shut up. Don’t you think we have more important things to worry about at the moment? Like where the hell we are, for instance?”“We’re at school, genius.” He scowls.“Yes, but look…” I indicate wildly with my hands. “Do you think there’s been some kind of nuclear war or something?”“I find that highly unlikely,” he says, but he does look a bit freaked out.I look up at the school that looms in front of us. And then I notice something else wrong.The school is grey. Everything is grey. The building itself, which is usually a shade of ancient red brick, is grey. Even the grassy hill outside is an unhealthy-looking shade of grey.This is wrong.I look at Anthony. He’s staring at the school too. Even he looks a bit dull. Not that he isn’t dull anyway, but even he doesn’t usually look this washed out.There’s a low cloud hanging everywhere. It’s shrouding the school. It’s covering the tops of the trees that line the road. It looks like an ordinary foggy morning. But really, really foggy and grey.And again, that doesn’t follow because it’s late afternoon. I know it is because Wade and I just cut last class.“Do you have the time, please?” I ask Anthony.“Check your own watch,” he mutters.“Like a watch goes with this outfit.”“Fine.” He makes a big show of pulling his sleeve up and looking at his wrist. “Oh,” he says, sounding surprised. “It’s stopped. This watch never stops. It’s radio controlled.”What a loser. Who cares if their watch stops occasionally?I’m about to say something to that effect when he talks instead.“What’s with all the mist?”“Like I’m gonna know.” I shrug.“Maybe there’s been some kind of holocaust. What’s the last thing you remember?”“I don’t…” I trail off as I think. “You,” I say suddenly. “You… In the car… Wade… He…”Memories flood my mind and make me shudder. “What do you remember?” I ask as I try to shake the cold feeling that has crept down my spine.He shrugs. “I was on my way home. You and that idiot boyfriend of yours were speeding around in some car that obviously didn’t belong to either of you. I yelled at him to slow down, there’s a nursery school just down the road, he could have killed someone…”The cold feeling intensifies.I think he did.“We hit you,” I say suddenly. “I know we did.”It was his brother’s car. Wade had grabbed me at lunchtime and persuaded me to meet him outside just before last lesson. And really, who needs to learn French? So I had cut class, hiding behind the exam wing until the coast was clear of roaming teachers, then snuck out through the fence and met Wade down a side street. We are experts at cutting class now. At the end of the day, as long as you’re not failing, I don’t see the need to attend every single class. Unlike some geeks.I cast a sideways glance at Anthony. His hair is too long and now a shade of charcoal instead of the usual dull brown, and he has a faraway look in his grey eyes. I know he’s thinking about what happened.I suddenly realise that the blood is gone. The last time I saw Anthony, he was covered in blood.Because of Wade.Because of me.Wade had borrowed his brother’s car. I use the term borrowed loosely because I doubt his brother knew he had borrowed it. We’d cut the class and gone for a drive. Not very far and nowhere that would attract attention, because neither of us has a driving license. We were on the way back to school so I could jump on the bus with Sophie and arrive home as usual, that way my parents would never know anything about it. It’s not like they approved of Wade anyway. They certainly wouldn’t approve of skipping school and riding in cars without a licensed driver.I remember that Wade sped up as we approached the school. He had to show off. We flew past the nursery school, gaining a few angry glances from mothers picking up their kids. I had the window down, my head leaning out of it, hair flapping around in the wind and feeling like a rock star. Wade had the music cranked up as high as it could go and was thumping his hands on the steering wheel to the beat.And then we saw Anthony. Head down, trudging along the pavement. His usual stance.“What a prick,” Wade had yelled to me over the music.I nodded.“Hey!” Wade rolled his window down and yelled at Anthony. “Been to after-school maths club, dude? Off home to see Mama?”“Get lost,” Anthony muttered.“Oh, it speaks, it speaks,” Wade mocked him.Anthony turned to face us. “You shouldn’t be driving like that. There are kids around here.”“Why don’t you go and tattle on me to a teacher, little baby?” Wade yelled. “You’re good at that. But see how many teeth you have left when I get my hands on you.”“Sod off,” Anthony said and carried on walking.“Stupid little twit,” Wade said to me. “We’ll show him.”He put his foot on the accelerator. We shot off down the road, almost reaching the school before Wade braked so sharply that I was sure I’d have a seatbelt-shaped indentation across my chest. He spun the car in a perfect circle, complete with screeching brakes and the smell of burning rubber.“What the hell are you doing?” I screamed.“I’ll teach that geek to tell me to slow down.” Wade grinned.We flew back up the road, approaching Anthony again within seconds.“Wade, don’t,” I said, but he didn’t hear me over the music. “Slow down!” I yelled at him.“Don’t be such a baby,” he said dismissively.I groaned. We were going too fast. We sped past Anthony again before Wade slammed on the brakes and did another screeching turn.“Stop it!” I yelled at him.He ignored me.“Hey, you!” he’d shouted as we passed Anthony again. He slowed down this time to taunt him some more. “Where’ve you been? Extra-credit science class, because A-plus grades just aren’t enough?”“You’re only jealous,” Anthony shouted to him.“Oh yeah. Jealous of you. The stupid little bastard whose granny makes him sandwiches every morning in case he gets his lunch money stolen.”“Screw you.”“Wade, stop,” I said again.“Why?” He snapped his head in my direction. “Tell me you don’t feel sorry for this geek?”“We should go home,” I said, avoiding the question. “I’ve already missed the bus. You’re going to have to drive me.”“Then there’s no rush.” He smirked.“Hey, freak,” he yelled at Anthony who was hurriedly walking away. “Going home to see Mama and Daddy? Oh wait, that’s right. You can’t, can you? They’re both dead! Probably killed themselves because you’re such a prat!”“Wade, don’t,” I said as he accelerated again and we sped off.“Why not?”“Because it’s cruel.”“Cruel, my ass. Making me sit next to that moron in form room is cruel.”“They only make you sit by him because you cause too much ruckus with your own friends.”“If you like him so much, why don’t you sit by him?” Wade slammed his foot on the brake so the car spun around again. We came dangerously close to the side barrier and I screamed.“Stop being such a girl,” Wade told me.“Hey, Anthony,” he yelled as we came up to him again. “Going home to see your… Oh, shit!”This time we didn’t slow down as we approached Anthony. This time there was a noise under the car and we swerved. We more than swerved. We careened across the road, and Anthony stood there frozen as we went right into him.I remember the sound of his head as it cracked against the windscreen. Blood spilled everywhere. It splattered through the passenger window that was still open. I screamed. I couldn’t see where we were going. The lifeless body blocked the view and bright red blood poured over the glass.Wade screamed beside me.“Do something!” I shrieked at him.Then there was impact. Anthony’s body was crushed right in front of my eyes as we hit something else head-on.There was the loudest bang I’ve ever heard in my life.Then there was blackness coming towards me.Then I was here.
- Give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
Kismetology - [Chick-lit romantic comedy] - Mackenzie has had enough of her mother interfering in her love life. She decides to turns the tables and interfere in her mum’s love life instead.
Afterlife Academy - [YA Paranormal romantic comedy] - Riley dies and finds herself at a school for the dead, along with the most annoying boy in her class. But was life really so much better than the afterlife?
- What makes Afterlife Academy stand out from the rest of the YA Paranormal books that are out there?
I don’t think it’s that paranormal. Yes, the characters are dead and it exists in a paranormal, almost parallel world, but the story is more about character growth and the journey that the characters go on. The paranormal setting is background to Riley learning and growing and the developing relationship between two characters. Riley has a lot to learn about herself and the life she led before she died, and that’s really what the book focuses on, it’s just that Paranormal is the best and only genre that it really fits into!
- Riley Richardson, while writing Afterlife Academy was she a character that you loved or one that you loved to hate? And why?
A bit of both actually, and that’s what I’ve been hoping would come across to the readers too. She starts off as a bully, a mean girl, and she really is a character who you love to hate. But she does grow over the course of the book and she learns a lot about herself, and she becomes a much nicer person for it. I enjoyed writing her, it was a challenge as she was quite different to the characters I usually write, I don’t know if I got the balance of love-to-hate and just plain hate right, but I hope I did!
- What's the most blatant lie you've ever told?
Shhh, I can’t tell you that! I try not to tell lies anymore, maybe the odd little white one here and there, but it’s been quite a while since I told a huge lie. Probably when I was in school. I’m afraid I used to lie to my mother all the time to get out of school, and I always used to lie to the teachers about the location of my gym kit or progress of my homework!
- Share one funniest, one silliest and one wackiest status you have put up on a social networking site.
Crikey, this question has made me realise how boring I’ve been lately! If I’m not talking about editing or word counts, I’m talking about chocolate biscuits and cups of tea!
About the Author
Jaimie is a 28-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, drinking tea and watching horror movies. She hates spiders and cheese & onion crisps.
She has been writing for years but has never before plucked up the courage to tell people.
Afterlife Academy is her third novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!
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