Mapping the undiscovered country: a brief introduction to contemporary afterlife fiction for young adults

  • Sophie Masson University of New England


In the last fifteen years, fiction set in or about the afterlife has become a popular and critically acclaimed sub-genre within contemporary speculative fiction for young adults especially, but not only, in English-language publishing. These narratives, where the main characters die at the beginning of the story and find themselves in an alien world, the world beyond death, have developed into a fertile ground for imaginative and intellectual challenge and discovery, as a means both to depict the ultimate culture shock and a challenging exploration of otherness and alienation.

Author Biography

Sophie Masson, University of New England
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, of French parents, Sophie Masson spent much of her childhood moving back and forth between Australia and France, growing up between worlds, and between languages, an experience which has formed a lot of her work. A bilingual French and English speaker, she has a BA and M.Litt in French and English Literature from the University of New England in northern NSW, and is currently undertaking Ph.D. study in Creative Practice at the same university. Sophie has had more than 60 books published in Australia and internationally, mostly for young adults and children, but also for adults, including the internationally-selling Forest of Dreams, an adult fantasy trilogy based on the life and work of the medieval French writer Marie de France. Much of her fiction for children and young adults has also been in the fantasy genre, but she has also written ghost stories, mysteries, thrillers, family stories, picture books and a graphic novel. Her non-fiction book on contemporary authorship, The Adaptable Author, was published by Keesing Press in 2014. Sophie is the Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, and has served on the Board of the Australian Society of Authors, the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Book Industry Collaborative Council.