Stories from those who say they have seen heaven and returned to life will probably always find an audience, all the more as Baby Boomers age and confront their mortality. Books across the religious spectrum—such as Heaven is for Real, 90 Minutes in Heaven, Proof of Heaven, and To Heaven and Back—have spent months, even years, on bestseller lists, and a new movie could continue to fuel the extraordinary recent interest in books by those who claim to have returned from the next world.
Publishers are hoping that books on the experience of death, returning from death, messages from the dead, and perspectives on what lies beyond might all receive a boost from the April 16 release of the film Heaven is for Real, based on the book of the same title (Thomas Nelson, 2010). By Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, the book tells the story of the near-death experience Burpo’s son reported at age 3. It has been on the bestsellers lists for more than two years.
In March, New World Library published The Boy Who Died and Came Back by novelist, journalist, and dream teacher Robert Moss. Moss writes about the three times he says he died and returned, and recounts his experiences while moving between the two worlds. Monique Muhlenkamp, publicity director at NWL, says Moss travels nationally and internationally and speaks at well-attended events and workshops. He was a guest last month on Coast-to-Coast AM, the nationally syndicated radio show, and is scheduled this month for Whitley Strieber's Dreamland podcast.
Cowboy and custom homebuilder Freddy Vest describes how suffering a heart attack while competing in rodeo calf roping put him on a journey to heaven and back in The Day I Died (Charisma House, June). Woodley Auguste, senior publicist at Charisma, says marketing plans include Vest’s appearances on the Christian television programs Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural and Praise the Lord; a radio tour; a radio infomercial airing in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami; and social media giveaways.
Others wish they could commune with those who didn’t return. In The Angel in My Pocket (Viking, July) author Sukey Forbes--a great-great-great granddaughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson--tells of embracing her New England family’s heritage of spiritual seeking and using a medium to connect with her daughter, who died at age 6. Rebecca Lang, senior publicist for Viking and Penguin, says plans include local events in the Boston area, where Forbes lives.
Atria senior publicist Bobbilyn Jones points to Opening Heaven's Door, in which journalist and novelist Patricia Pearson explores the theme of messages from the dying and dead that are often reported by loved ones and caregivers. Jones says Pearson is scheduled to appear on Fox & Friends on May 13, the book’s publication date.
Taking a theological rather than personal approach, Bible scholar Ron Rhodes uses a devotional format to consider the big question in What Happens After Life? (Harvest House, Apr.). Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, has written more than 70 books, all from Harvest House. Christianne Debysingh, senior publicist, says Rhodes is a consistent performer and his books are so much in demand that they sell with little promotion.