Woke Up Dead (Author Interview)

Woke Up Dead looks like a great young adult novel.  It has a unique story, can you tell us a little about it?

Woke Up Dead is the story of a woman who wakes up at her own funeral. Throughout the novel we follow along as Hope (the main character) tries to put her life back together. Since everyone thought she was dead they acted accordingly, so she has to reclaim her possessions, her home, and her job. There is a great deal of family drama but there are also a lot of issues to think about such as estate planning, funeral planning, and the importance of therapy. On its surface, the humor and storyline are appealing to young adults. However, the underlying topics often appeal to those in their mid-30s and up.

Any plans to turn this into a series?

Initially I did not have plans to write a sequel or series. Many have let me know that they enjoyed Hope and would like to follow her journey. I am currently turning the novel into a screenplay which will offer a bit more to the story. If there is a sequel, it will be a while before we see it.

What inspired you when writing Woke Up Dead?   

I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Having several friends participating in NaNoWriMo along with me kept me inspired. This started as a writing challenge and turned into a whole new, amazing chapter of my life.

How did you come up with the story in Woke Up Dead?

This story actually stemmed from a dream I had. I dreamed of myself waking up at my own funeral. That may sound like a scary thought to some but with my personality, it was pretty hysterical. In the dream I looked around, hated all the arrangements, and started cussing everybody out. I woke up in a fit of laughter and knew that this vision would be a fantastic basis for a book.

Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Woke Up Dead?

The novel was pretty easy to write because I enjoyed watching this story unfold. The story is modern-day in that we get a glimpse behind the veil of what happens when a story goes viral and how difficult it can be for someone to bounce back from that. The hardest part of crafting this novel actually came after the writing was complete. I got the bright idea to quote music lyrics in the book and I don’t know if I will ever go through THAT process again. Working with music publishing companies can be daunting and time-consuming.

What do you like to do when not writing?

Concerts, shows, and festivals are some of my favorite pastimes. I live in Vegas because this is truly my happy place. I used to come out here four or five times a year just to catch shows. Finally one day I woke up and said, “why don’t I just live there?” Within six months I packed up my things and re-planted. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. I am never lacking for entertainment here. When relaxing at home I often feed my artsy side by making quilts.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

Those interested in finding out more about me or my journey can visit my website: nadiagilkes.com. I am also on Instagram (@nadia.gilkes), Facebook (@officialnadiagilkes), and Twitter (@nadiagilkes). For those interested in starting a writing journey of their own, you can find me teaching From Idea to Self-Published at the College of Southern Nevada. I will also offer this course as a webinar for those who are not local.