I am really, really good at using technology to make sure people are still alive
My Medium piece on three death movements that are booming in the west has, I'm informed, slipped behind a paywall. So I can't share it with you. But here's the audio version, read by me.
If you found this interesting, there's an entire BOOK in the making! Check out This Party's Dead on Unbound.
“If I had to pick a side, I’d take the celebratory funeral every time. Traditionalists might argue that wearing bright colours to funerals trivialises death. I agree. That, I think, is the point. We don’t want to trivialise the loss, but why not trivialise death? Forgive the language, but fuck death. It wins every time; it doesn’t need our respect.”
So you're thinking of buying a book on Unbound. Congratulations! You're the 175,000th person or thereabouts. Here's how you do it.
I'm going to choose a book at random to use as an example. Let's say... oh, I don't know... MY BOOK, This Party's Dead.
I've been asked a lot of questions by readers that suggest they're not quite sure what the deal is with Unbound, and why the hell I expect them to buy a book that hasn't been written yet. So here's how it works.
I'm still writing the book, but that doesn't mean you can't buy it. In fact, if you buy it now I'd actually be REALLY GRATEFUL, because Unbound funds the publication of their books with preorders. Once it reaches 100%, the book gets published, and it has hundreds of readers before it even graces the shelves of Waterstones.
Also, those who help get it to 100% get a sexy subscriber edition, with their name in the back of the book thanking them for their support.
ALSO, instead of just buying a book, you have the option to pay more for some delightful extras. You can get a signed Collectable Edition or an edition with a dedication just for you. You can get the Biscotti Edition, which is a signed first edition hardback, eBook, your name in the back of the book, and a bag of traditional Sicilian ossa dei morti (bones of the dead) cookies, made by the author. As I'm fluent in Spanish, a couple of people have already gone for the Linguist Collection, a signed first edition hardback, the eBook, your name in the back of the book, and a one-hour Spanish lesson with me (in person if possible, or via Skype). There's an option for me to send you personalised video updates from the death festivals I'm writing about. And as Erica's weirdest skill is the ability to rap Alphabet Aerobics, you could even go for the Who's Calling Me? Edition, which includes a signed first edition hardback, the eBook, your name in the back of the book, and at some random point in the next year, I will call you and rap "Alphabet Aerobics".
Tempted? Here's what you do.
Go to the This Party's Dead page, and click the blue button that says "Pledge". It looks like this:
That will take you to a page of 15 options, ranging from the £10 all the way up to the £10,000 "Make this book happen" option that's only there in case of some kind of Secret Millionaire situation. Click on the option you want, and at that point it's the same as any other online purchase.
I hope this helped, and thanks for your interest in the project. Read more about it (and watch the trailer!) here.
As part of my newsletter, I'll be doing regular short video updates on what I'm writing.
This week, I'm focusing on the people who are trying to dodge death using technology, and writing up the moment I played Would You Rather... with a transhumanist.
Would you like to join me on my trip to seven death festivals?
For regular (though not intrusively frequent) updates on the journey, sign up for the This Party's Dead newsletter.
It's all the fun of following me around the world, but with none of the motion sickness, currency calculations or anxiety over whether it's ok to bring up zombies. Bring up zombies ALL YOU WANT buddy, because you're alone at your computer.
I’m wiping up spilt honey in a dead man’s pantry. It’s an easy meal for the ants that are crawling through the cracks in the walls, but I scrub until paint comes off the wood. Lately this house has been more than generous to the local insect population. My fiancé, Dion, is clearing out the fridge, gingerly passing dripping packs of green-tinged chicken to the bin. At least meat doesn’t bloat, I think, and wonder if, given equal conditions, food and humans decay at similar rates…
How honoured was I when filmmaker Kristian Brodie, one of the geniuses behind Next Goal Wins, asked me to perform in the very first OneTrackMinds? Very, that's how.
OneTrackMinds is one of those nights that should, and hopefully will, become a London institution. Six guests - writers, comedians, musicians - get up and talk about the song that changed their life, and then we listen to the track. It took place at the stunning East London venue, Wilton's Music Hall (it's incredible – if you haven't been, you must go. Seriously, go and listen to someone read the ingredients on a pack of biscuits if it's showing there.)
I spoke about how a song helped me move from being a bereaved agoraphobe to someone who is travelling the world attending death festivals, writing a book and presenting a documentary.
Enjoy the terror in my voice in the moment I realise I'm attempting to tell hundreds of strangers a funny story about a dead body.
Hello fellow mortals!
The story starts with the day my husband and I found his father dead in his house. By the time we realised why he wasn't answering his emails, he had been dead for eight days.
The trauma led to a horrendous bout of agoraphobia. I may or may not* have tried to get over it by going to a supermarket to buy a sandwich, where I lost my nerve and threw said sandwich before running home.
*NB I did. I did do that.
I don't believe Britain is a good place to be when trying to overcome a trauma involving death. We're too afraid of it. We avoid direct mention of it, we have no mourning period – we're just expected to go back to work – and when people started meeting up to talk about death in the form of "death cafes", that made the news. People openly discussing death makes HEADLINES in this country.
I used to live in Mexico, where, as most people know, they have an annual festival for the dead. I started researching other countries where they have death festivals - or "deathtivals" as I now call them. This little research expedition led to what is probably the opposite of agoraphobia:
I am travelling the world attending deathtivals. Seven of them. One for every day we didn't find Chris.
I realise I am a strange person to be writing a book about death. I am not old or terminally ill, and as the daughter-in-law of the person who kicked this off by dropping dead so unexpectedly, I am an outsider – and I have been told I have no right to even feel this loss. Writing as a "grief outsider" I do of course hope to heal what time can't, and maybe even understand why facing death makes some throw a party, and others throw a sandwich.