Evening. I’m looking at writing a story and I think it’d be about the same size as elsewhere. I’m just wondering if you could tell me how many words it is? Thanks so much. Amazing book.

Thank you! Elsewhere is around 61,000 words, as I recall. I, too, used to be interested in the word counts of comparable books when I was starting to write novels. 

Hello, me and my girlfriend, both firm believers that Elsewhere could possibly be an actual afterlife have a question. If the entire human race died, and there was nobody to give birth any more, what would happen to the babies in elsewhere when they go down the River?

Hello to you and your girlfriend. Is that an Appetite for Destruction T-shirt I spy in your profile picture?

I’ll begin by answering a question you didn’t ask. I don’t believe in an afterlife like Elsewhere and I absolutely didn’t write the book to propose a viable afterlife or even a viable world. I know this answer disappoints people, but I always feel I have to say it. I wrote the book to talk about the things that matter to me in this life, which is the only one I know and certainly the only one in which I have any agency. That said, the older I get the more I believe you can’t control any reader’s experience of your books. It’s probably silly of me to try.

Your question intrigues me. Since the question has been asked more than once, I hope you won’t mind that I’m answering it publicly. If there were an Elsewhere (which I’ve already told you I don’t believe) and if the entire human race died, I imagine that humanity would end, that the fates of Elsewhere and Earth are linked. Occasionally, souls do get lost on their way from Elsewhere to Earth and vice versa. (For example, when Liz found herself at the bottom of the ocean — had she never tried to save herself, there would be no Liz on Elsewhere or on Earth.) I once entertained writing a prequel in which the Captain from the ship and an entire boatload of passagers were lost at sea. If humanity dies, a lot of people might find themselves lost at sea forever.

There are other ways of answering this question. I could tell you, for instance, that there are definitely Elsewheres elsewhere. Liz’s experience of the world had been so limited when she died that she didn’t know the kind of people who might end up in the other Elsewheres. I have also entertained writing a novel about one of the other Elsewheres, but I probably won’t ever do it. Those Else-elsewheres are somewhat bleak and not places I necessarily want to spend a great deal of time.

The truth of all of it though is, Elsewhere is a story, not a postmortem destination. It’s a fantastical literary device meant to entertain people and possibly make them reflect on their own lives. You probably know this without me saying.

(If anyone ever gets to Elsewhere, I wouldn’t mind receiving a message in a bottle though.)

(I jest. Of course I jest.)


who is the girl on the cover of elsewhere?



I suppose you are talking about the British paperback version, which has a blond girl wrapped in a blue towel, on a beach. I don’t know who she is except to say that the photo came from a stock photo house, like Getty. I know this photo has been used on other books, too. I think she represents Liz, but you probably know that already.

I imagine this girl was a child model. She’s probably a grown-up now. Maybe she’s in college or even older. Maybe she doesn’t model anymore. Maybe modeling was her mom’s idea to begin with and maybe she only did it to make her mother happy. Maybe she was cold that day. Maybe she wouldn’t like being on a book where the girl dies, but that’s the life of a model: You end up where you end up. Maybe, since the photo is from behind, when she sees the book in stores, she doesn’t even know that it’s her.

At this moment, there sit 84 questions in my tumblr askbox. For the next month, I’m going to try to answer them.