In his dream, Marcus Sakey found himself walking the streets of Chicago, everything is much the same but also different—in the way that dreams often are.
“At first, I think that everyone is gone but then realize it’s me that’s gone–not anyone else– and that I was dead,” says Sakey, who seconds after this realization woke up in his own bed, next to his wife. But the import of the dream remained.
“In the dream, I wasn’t scared but when I woke up, it seemed like a nightmare when I imagined being in those same circumstances of wandering around, being dead and not being able to speak to her,” says Sakey, whose bestselling Brilliance, the first in a trilogy, has sold over a million copies.
This dream became what Sakey calls a “seed crystal,” the catalyst to write Afterlife (Thomas & Mercer 2017; $24.95) a supernatural thriller featuring Brody and Claire McCoy, FBI colleagues and lovers. Killed in the line of duty, both are reunited in an after world where they must battle an ancient satanic entity.
It was a story Sakey felt compelled to write but one that was frightening as well.
“This one scared me from the very beginning and it scared me every time I sat at the keyboard,” he says. “I never looked up and saw ghosts. Like any of my books, when I’m writing I’m working on it all the time not just when I’m at the keyboard. When I’m having dinner with my wife or playing with my daughter on the swing, I’m thinking about the characters and what they are doing. I was also afraid I might not be able to pull it off.”
Fascinated by mythology since he was very young and striving to bring an almost mythical quality to his book, Sakey rewrote the first 100 pages nine times, each revision adding new layers, clarifications and bringing the characters into sharper focus.
“It was my ninth book and by far the hardest I’ve written,” he says.
But the rewards of all that hard work have been great. Imagine Entertainment, an American film and television production company founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, won an auction for the screen rights to Afterlife. Grazer and Howard are producing the movie with Sakey writing the screenplay.
“To be perfectly honest, none of this has sunk in,” says Sakey when asked how he feels about all this heady success. “My job up until now has been to hang out with my daughter in the morning and then go into the basement and make stuff up.”