Journeys in the Afterlife

Phuc Pham | New University

Phuc Pham | New University

Author Robert ‘Bob’ Steelman shares the similarities of his own  journey with that of the character in his novel.

Robert Steelman, retired journalist, editor and now self-published author and Certified Hypnotherapist/Therapeutic Imagery Facilitator, visited The Hill bookstore last Wednesday evening to read from and discuss his new inspirational novel, “Beyond a Lifetime.”

Steelman, whose supportive wife described him as a warm and compassionate person who liked to connect with people, read the first chapter from his novel at the School of Humanities Author Series event to promote his new book which seems to strive for just that: connecting with people.

“Beyond a Lifetime” follows the journey of an ordinary man, who finds himself stuck in the afterlife, struggling to find meaning and parallels between how he spent his life on earth, and how he will spend his time after death. Before Steelman   began reading, he discussed with the audience his own journey while writing the novel.

Because Steelman was always “fascinated with death and the impending factor that it plays in all of our lives,” he started writing his “bucket-list” project in 1991 with a story that followed a man into his “life” after death. After picking it up and putting it down several times throughout the years, he finally finished. Seven years after that, he published his piece by his own means in  September 2012.

He expressed to the audience his initial interest with the idea of the afterlife affecting the very journey of life itself. After watching the success of the 1990 movie “Ghost,” starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, Steelman realized that the rest of the world shared a similar interest in the mysterious journey of the afterlife and that they might be intrigued by a narrative that explored the ideas of the unknown in his relatable and page-turning adventure.

Steelman described the process of finishing the book and his struggle to find time to write between family life and finding new love. He then spoke about how he wrote a novel with main characters based quite similarly on his own life journey.

He mentioned that  this discovery  allowed him to examine his own life and do a bit of soul searching, just as the character Michael Jacobs in his novel does.

Several readers also told Steelman that they experienced a similar personal connection after reading his novel. Writing “Beyond a Lifetime” pushed Steelman into a  self-reflection that caused him to see himself in a whole new light.

“What I learned was that it was okay, as I put it, to live out loud,” Steelman said, describing the life- changing lesson that the story of his beloved leading character Michael taught him. His readers also shared with him that Michael’s emotional story changed the way they look at their own lives.

“Accepting who you are is an important process that we all go through and I think that’s a part of our journey, to become better acquainted with ourselves,” Steelman said. The character Michael never found his voice when he was living on earth, but he eventually does when he is searching for his estranged ex-wife in the afterlife.

After reading the first chapter of his novel, Steelman then used his professional skills as a hypnotherapist to involve the audience through a guided imagery exercise that left the listeners relaxed and relieved for the wine and cheese meet-and-greet held after the event.