Portions of my novel, The Awakening (May 13th), take place in the afterlife - locations that we would refer to as Heaven and Hell.
I have an unusual perspective on both locations. My personal beliefs hold that the divine is the very embodiment of love. Now, imagine that "God" takes a vacation and puts you in charge of who gets into Heaven (since many religions have criteria for reaching such a place.) As you're sitting there with your list, your child comes up to you. They've died and are seeking entrance into the afterlife. After checking your list, you find that they don't meet the criteria to go to Heaven. What do you do?
If you're like me, I give them a free pass simply because I love them.
This is the perspective from which I created "Heaven."
Matthias shook his head. "What I'm telling you, is that no one can tell you exactly what this place is, that no one here knows for sure. This city is only one location in a world so vast that it has never been completely explored. I've been told that this is a land of limitless possibilities, that any reality can find a home here."
"So it doesn't matter if I'm not sure I believe in God?"
The old man smiled. "There's a wonderful Jewish temple near the center of the city. Mosques are tucked in a number of corners and you'd be amazed at the number of Christian churches. Pagans are out there in the countryside; you'll find everything from indigenous beliefs to neo-paganism nestled in the valleys, mountains and forests. When you've decided where you belong, then you'll find your home."
So if the divine is love and everyone gets a free pass into Heaven, who goes to Hell?
Those who believe it's what they deserve.
"They expected to be here. Maybe not here exactly, but somewhere like this, somewhere that they felt they could make atonement."
"You can't possibly expect me to believe that they wanted to end up here."
"Your world is all about what you believe," he reminded her. "Only two kinds of people come to this place. Those who aren't happy anywhere else and those who feel they don't deserve anything more because of what they've done."
This perspective on Heaven and Hell is the middle ground between the world's religions. On one hand is the divine that embodies perfect love - which includes acceptance and forgiveness. On the other is a place of horror and suffering, not a final destination, but one where we're pulled by the anchor of our own personal darkness.
If a person isn't condemned forever but merely until they feel they've made atonement - whether that is a sense of having paid a debt or a worthiness to leave the darkness behind - then there must also be a way for those individuals to pass from one realm to the other.
Without giving any of the story away, I included that mechanism in the novel as well.
The Awakening (May 13, 2011) sets the stage for A Tide of Shadows (May 2012), which in turn builds to the climax found in Days of the Fallen (May 2013). You can read the first three chapters online for free. The Awakening will be published on Friday the 13th in both paperback and ebook formats.
Secret One: Aleph (May 1st)
Secret Two: The End (May 2nd)
Secret Three: Angels (May 3rd)
Secret Four: The Bloodline (May 4th)
Secret Five: Heaven and Hell (May 5th)
Secret Six: What Does God Look Like? (May 6th)
Secret Seven: Working Miracles (May 7th)
Secret Eight: The Four Horsemen (May 8th)
Secret Nine: Small Town Mysteries (May 9th)
Secret Ten: Photographing the Paranormal (May 10th)
Secret Eleven: Blood on the Threshold (May 11th)
Secret Twelve: Find the Thread (May 12th)
Secret Thirteen: How Does the World End? (May 13th)