Suicide is definitely not painless, in Tim Pratt's new dark fantasy novel

What if you could really get on board the mothership or enter a higher state by killing yourself? That's the question Tim Pratt's new dark fantasy novel asks. Pratt, who also writes the Marla Mason novels as T.A. Pratt, just sold his novel Briarpatch to ChiZine Publications.

Here's the official blurb about the book:

A man's girlfriend leaves him and commits suicide by leaping from the Golden Gate Bridge. His quest to understand the tragedy leads him to a seemingly immortal, charismatic cult leader.

Is this a horror novel? How weird do the cults and suicides get? We asked Pratt to tell us more about it, and here's what he said:

It's a contemporary fantasy novel, and while it is dark in places — I mean, it's largely about suicidal ideation and magical thinking! — I wouldn't characterize it as horror or anything.

The earliest seed of inspiration was the great article "Jumpers" by Tad Friend in the New Yorker some years back, about people leaping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Especially the line: "Suicidal people have transformation fantasies and are prone to magical thinking, like children and psychotics."

So I started thinking about that — about suicide cultists, especially those who believed they were leaving this world for a better one (be that Heaven or a spaceship or whatever). As a fantasy writer, I inevitably thought: "What if they're right? What if killing yourself can lead to a magical transformation?" Obviously I didn't want to trivialize or glamorize suicide — the book doesn't do either of those things — but there are many magical traditions that involve transcending the body. I imagined a path to perfect, magical, transcendent happiness that had, as its final step, the conscious decision to leave the body behind, and then imagined a character who would try to follow that path... and who would fail.

Thus, my main character's girlfriend Bridget, who leaps to her death, expecting to find a heaven waiting, but, instead, screws up the ritual and becomes a ghost. (She ends up haunting a failed suicide, a guy named Orville who jumped the same day she did, but landed feet first, and managed to survive the fall, albeit with horrific injuries.) Meanwhile her distraught ex-boyfriend Darrin tries to figure out why she killed herself, and meets a charismatic, possibly-immortal guy named Ismael Plenty, who's a sort of guru of transcendence via suicide. His investigation leads him into what he ends up calling the Briar Patch, a network of implausible, half-finished, bizarre alternate worlds... which may include a place that's a lot like heaven.

Also, there are lots of bridges, and a psychotic with a chrome shotguns, and bears, and at least one magical car.

Magical car! Can't wait to read this. This book comes out next year from ChiZine Press.