Friday, September 21, 2012

Find out about The Ups and Downs of Being Dead and win a bestselling book!

M. R. Cornelius

Today it’s great to welcome back Marsha Cornelius, the author of H10N1 and The Ups and Downs of Being Dead (see below, to find out how you can win a FREE signed copy of this bestselling book).

Marsha, since your last interview in January, your novel H10N1 has been very successful. Could you tell us a bit about this?

I owe most of the book’s success to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. KDP has a Select program that lets you post the book for free. And when all those free downloads start pouring in, your standing on Amazon goes way up. I’ve been in the Top Ten paid books in drama at Amazon a couple times, and the sales really pick up. But there’s always another book hot on your heels to knock you down a step or two. (Or ten)
I’m grateful that both my books are currently on Amazon’s Top 100 paid in drama. Of course, that could change in the next hour!

You have written a second book called The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. Could you tell us what it's about?

The Ups and Downs of Being Dead is about 57 year-old Robert who finds out he is dying, but can’t accept his fate. He has heard about cryonics, so he decides to take the gamble and have his body frozen, in the hopes that he will be revived sometime in the future. He thinks he’ll go to sleep, like during surgery, and just wake up in the future.

That doesn’t happen. He discovers that he’s a ghost, able to come and go as he pleases, along with the others who were frozen before him. But what’s a workaholic like Robert supposed to do with his time for the next 100 years? There’s no eating or drinking. He can’t hold a golf club. He doesn’t even need to sleep. And he certainly can’t communicate with the living.

What inspired it?

I read about Ted Williams being cryonically-preserved a few years ago. And that got me thinking about those people waiting to come back from the dead, so to speak. They aren’t really dead. When they’re revived, their soul will go back into the body, presumably.

So what do they do while they’re waiting?

What was the best and the worst thing about writing it?

The best part of writing this book, or any book, is letting your imagination run wild. Lots of ‘what-ifs’ to explore. And because no one has yet come back from the dead to tell us what’s on the other side, no one can tell me I’m wrong. They might disagree with my premise, but they can’t actually prove anything.

The worst part, or hardest part, was trying to give the reader a taste of the future as Robert waits, without having to get into the whole world of flying cars, or human/robots. I didn’t want to guess at what the future would be like. There are way too many tech-savvy people out there who could point out the flaws. I really just wanted to deal with my characters and how they interact with each other.

If you were in Robert Malone's situation and could go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I’d definitely catch a ride on a space shuttle, hopefully headed for the International Space Station. I could see earth from outer space, and see what life is like on the space station.

It would be interesting to hang out with the living, too. Think about attending a Rolling Stones concert for free. I could hang out in the band’s dressing room before the show, and dance right up on stage with Mick Jagger without feeling self-conscious. (Or getting thrown out!)

I could sit in on top-secret meetings in the oval office, walk right next to Bubba Watson while he played in the Masters, or hang out on the set with Meryl Streep.

What are you planning to work on next?

My next book is with my editor right now. Once she’s done with it, I’ll be rewriting this winter. I hope to have the book ready this spring, but as of this moment, I don’t have a title I like.

The story is about a homeless man who helps a woman and her two small children get off the streets of Atlanta. It’s set in 1984 because Frank, my 34 year-old protagonist, has been drifting ever since he came back from Vietnam in 1972. I needed a character who felt pretty hopeless and bewildered about his life, and I think a lot of men came back from Vietnam that way.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a book about the Vietnam War; it’s about two lost souls who meet and help one another get their lives turned around.

Could you give us a sneak look at The Ups and Downs of Being Dead?


At first, he’d done what any intelligent man would do when the doctor folded his hands on his desk and quietly said, ‘You have cancer.’ Robert got a second opinion.

That noted oncologist laid it out in a way Robert could not deny. Like an advertising campaign, the doctor presented images from an MRI and pointed out the large mass in Robert’s liver. Then he produced colorful brochures on the finest cancer treatment centers, pamphlets touting the latest pharmaceuticals, and of course, the bar graphs and pie charts that estimated how long Robert had to live.

For the first time in almost thirty years, Robert took the rest of the day off. He struggled to get through the telephone conversation with his secretary canceling appointments, rearranging meetings. By the time he ended the call, Robert felt so weak he’d braced his arm on the roof of his car and rested his forehead on the sleeve of his hand-tailored suit. Struggling for breath, he was unable to even stop the drool that oozed out of his gaping mouth and dribbled down the window of his Mercedes.

Stale exhaust fumes in the parking garage choked Robert, the low clearance closed in on him. He was practically running when he came out onto the open top level. The heat of the day washed over Robert, and his body sagged. He lurched to the edge of the roof, and looked out over Atlanta, the classic query drumming in his head. ‘Why me?’

When Amanda heard he was dying, she rushed home from her shopping trip in New York. Robert was in his office, on the phone, when she burst in, her cheeks flushed, her eyes aglow. If he had to describe her expression in one word, it would have been exuberant.

Almost overnight, she transformed into a loving, sacrificing wife who put everything on hold for him. She drove him to his chemo appointments. She waited patiently outside the bathroom while he puked his guts out, then helped him back to bed, tucking brand-new sheets under his chin. Death sheets, he’d called them. He was certain she’d agonized over just the right shade and design to go with cancer.

She volunteered for the American Cancer Society, masquerading as a pillar of strength in front of other spouses of dying partners. She even participated in one of those walks – Amanda, who probably hadn’t worn a pair of sneakers since she was ten. And she never went anywhere without that goofy pink ribbon pinned to her clothing.

Robert was sure the only reason she got so involved with the cancer organization was to get first-hand information on how soon he could be expected to croak. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on his millions.

Wouldn’t she be surprised?

Where can people buy your book?

Both my books are available on my website at

And of course, on Amazon:

Amazon UK:

Alternatively, you can win a FREE signed copy of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. All you need to do is leave a comment below with your contact details, or if you prefer, you can email me at KatherynLane1 (at) (This offer is available to USA residents only)


  1. What a great interview! Thanks so much for sharing. I am hooked. I want to know why Robert's wife will be surprised. Best of luck to Ms. Cornelius:)

    Paul R. Hewlett

    1. Thank you for dropping by! Glad you like the interview.

    2. Congratulations to Paul R. Hewlett. You won the free signed copy of my novel The Ups and Downs of Being Dead! Thanks for entering our little giveaway.

    3. Congratulations! I've emailed you with the details :)

  2. Nice work Marsha---congrats on the success of your books! I like your comment on "letting your imagination run wild." The joy of being a writer--we too can least until the next book. I wish you continued success with all your future books.

  3. Great interview...such an interesting concept, Marsha. I'm with Paul...I love the comment "letting your imagination run wild". Oh...and I'd probably dance on stage with you...LOL!

  4. Oh wow I LOVE the premise that he is not dead--but sort a ghost locked in some cryogenic time-warp.
    Since I found out about Walt Disney this has fascinated me!
    Thanks so much for the interview--great stuff :)
    And great luck with your books!
    (Waving at Katheryn :)
    Pen XO

  5. Doh!! So sorry, Paul, Jane and Penelope, for not winning the free copy of The Ups and Downs of Being Dead. If you feel you MUST have a copy, you can get the Kindle edition for only $2.99 on Amazon. And thanks for participating in the giveaway.