Dave Swavely

Next Life: A Novel

Paperback, Three Ebook Formats
(6 customer reviews)

One Christian’s adventure of a lifetime…in the NEXT LIFE!

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Next Life: A Novel, by Dave Swavely (Cruciform Fiction)

One Christian’s adventure of a lifetime…in the NEXT LIFE!

What happened to Tim Carler is so hard to believe that he had to call his story a novel to keep from being mercilessly mocked (or locked up for his own safety). But ironically, his account rings true in a way that other “heaven tourism” books do not. Unlike those supposedly non-fiction titles, there’s nothing in this one that contradicts Scripture.

After the shock of finding his soul in the Intermediate State, the surprises multiply as Tim finds out who’s there, who’s not, and how different heaven is from our common conceptions. In a dimension not bound by time, he is sent on missions into the past where he meets some extraordinary everyday people, as well as famous ones like the Jewish Patriarchs, Adolf Hitler, and two Victorian Charleses—Spurgeon and Dickens.

Speaking of Dickens, this novel is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, but with more gospel content. It’s a Pilgrim’s Progress where the journey takes place in the life to come rather than in this one. More modern comparisons could be made to The Shack (with much better theology) and Alan Moore’s graphic novel From Hell (except it’s from heaven).

Next Life is an utterly unique mind- and genre-bending book that will make you look at life in heaven, and on earth, in a whole new way, and look forward to both like never before.


Dave SwavelyDave Swavely is a full-time writer who has written and edited numerous books, both fiction and non-fiction. He and his wife, Jill, are approaching their fourth decade of marriage, enjoying their seven children, and eagerly anticipating their next life together.


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Weight4 oz
Dimensions5.25 × 8 in
Imprint or Series

Cruciform Fiction


Print/PDF 978-1-941114-30-8
Mobipocket 978-1-941114-31-5
ePub 978-1-941114-32-2

US List Price

10.99 Print, 7.50 Ebook




Paperback, Three Ebook Formats

6 reviews for Next Life: A Novel

  1. Lita Cosner

    Full disclosure: I was offered a free PDF and a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

    I was intrigued by the premise of Next Life. A former pastor has a ‘trip to Heaven’. There were some really positive elements, like how he emphasized that the glory and presence of God is what characterizes Heaven (or the intermediate state). He sought to link specific teachings to the relevant Scriptures.

    However, he does take several liberties in referring to conversations with angels and historical people. Also, he makes statements about realities in the intermediate state that we simply can’t know. And oddly, he seems to indicate that dead people go about doing errands on earth, which is certainly something Scripture never says. Some of the statements in the book were cringe-inducing for me. The sentence “Michael sent the spiritual equivalent of a smile emoji our way” is representative of the too-cavalier way the book sometimes speaks about heavenly beings and realities.

    I find myself struggling to think who I would recommend this book to. Several times the author references Alcorn, and I find myself preferring Alcorn’s take on the heavenly state to this one. However, it was a fun evening’s reading, and I really do wish I could recommend it more strongly.

  2. perkinda

    I am not sure what either the Apostle Paul or the Apostle John meant my being “caught up”, but I think their experience had a different focus than protagonist Pastor Tim Carler. I think the Bible describes the IS as being more about worshipping God while we wait for the Second Coming, than in being ministering spirits to the living. That aside, this truly was a very interesting read.

    Unlike other fiction books that attempt to describe the intermediate state, the conversational style of the author interacted with scripture in competent ways. It was usually quite clear what was mere speculation and what had biblical support. Although I liked the biblical references that explained his understanding of what was happening, the net effect was to have a good story that kept getting interrupted with explanations.
    I did like the way the book ended. In closing the book, Dave Swavely describes the evidence he finds for the events he participated in as a ministering Angel. Particularly interesting and helpful was the backup data he found for Hitler’s decision to invade Germany.

    As a book of fiction that gets us thinking about heaven, this is a worthwhile read.

  3. Marian A. Jacobs

    Dave Swavely’s book, Next Life, is a fictional account of a man dying, going to heaven, and then coming back to life. This is not your average heaven tourism book! Where those (supposedly) non-fiction books fall short (from Scripture), Next Life attempts a reformed, and more biblically faithful speculation on what the afterlife will be like. I would even go so far as to say this book was partly a critique on those “non-fiction” afterlife books.

    Okay so I’ve been meaning to read those theology books on heaven . . . but they’re still chillin’ on my TBR list. I’ll get there, ya’ll. So I definitely learned a lot from this book. Be warned! It reads differently than your average work of fiction. The tone and style more closely resemble a letter or a journal. Swavely even left out all the quotation marks for the small smattering of dialogue!!! (Gasp!)

    But that approach allowed him to be more open about his thoughts on the Bible as well as other books on heaven. He often mentioned other authors books on the topic—both positively and negatively. This was . . . okay. But I had to get past the unpleasant feeling that he was speaking as a real authority on the subject (he wasn’t because the book is obviously fictional) when he said such and such author was wrong.

    My favorite thing about NL was its ability to put sin into better perspective. For example, the main character, Pastor Tim Carler, spoke about how much more he could see his old sinfulness when he got to the intermittent state (the IS being the place in which one goes before the finally coming of Christ). Yet, his “tour guides” were both serial killers while on Earth. This made for a heavy image of how gracious God is and how diverse the community will look in heaven. When Tim asks Jesus why he picked the serial killers to be guides, Jesus responded by saying, “because they love me so much.” No doubt.

    This book put a rather new spin on both a theology of heaven and heaven tourism. My only real qualm was the main character’s assertion that everything in his account will be biblical. I think he meant that he isn’t going to be making stuff up like the faux non-fiction tourism books do. And that is definitely true. Yet, the story is speculative (as a fictional work of this nature would undoubtedly be). The good part about this is that all Swavely’s speculating is based on scripture and his interpretation. I think I would have borne any theological disagreements a bit more happily had I not been told up front that nothing within the story would function outside the Bible. How he could get away with not saying that though, I have no clue. . . . I’m not here to fix problems, but only to create them.

    Overall, Next Life, was enjoyable, fascinating (especially the part where Charles Spurgeon and Charles Dickens hang out!), and informative!

  4. Ernie Bowman (verified owner)

    Next Life by Dave Swavely is a biblically faithful and doctrinally sound story about a man who goes to Heaven and back. Frustrated by the spate of “Heaven tourism” books based in fantasy and terrible theology, Swavely has given us a short (I bought the paperback and it was125 pages) novel based only in what the Bible actually says about Heaven. For my own two cents, the most intriguing and thought provoking part was the section dealing with Hitler and his deliberations during the war. Yes, Hitler. Want to know more? You’ll have to read the book….

    Packed with scripture references and allusions as well as actual gospel content, this is a book that will entertain and inform believers, but might do more than that. It would make a great conversation starter or evangelistic tool you could use to reach out to friends and family who might not read the Bible, but would read a fiction book. One part systematic theology, one part biblical apologetic, and two parts novel, this is a unique book that is definitely one-of-a-kind!

  5. John Crotts

    It’s a great use of fiction to tell a story of a man’s journey to heaven (the intermediate state, before the final judgment) and explore what the Bible teaches about it. While there is some necessary speculation, Swavely flies close to Scripture, resulting in the right kind of provocation for the reader. Helping earthly people think well of heaven is always welcomed.

  6. JB

    In a current cultural climate that celebrates the temporary, idolizes the now, and worships the pragmatic, any work that encourages and facilitates an eternal perspective is welcomed (and needed). And that’s what Swavely offers in “Next Life: A Novel.”

    In this short work of fiction, the author creatively pushes the reader “outside the box” when considering the afterlife while, at the same time, explicitly calls for a rootedness in Scripture when doing the same. I’m not a fiction writer (I’m barely any type of writer!), but I’ll assume that isn’t an easy balance to strike. Swavely does so with skill and winsomeness.

    There are three other elements of Next Life that stoke me as worth mentioning, only because it seemed to me that they were important to the author himself.

    First, the book is used as a subtle(ish) rebuke of the “heaven tourism” genre. On more than one occasion the author points out the folly of such writing and suggests there’s a better way of knowing of “what comes next” (hint: the Word of God). As a pastor, I don’t think this genre can be publicly corrected and challenged enough. That said, Swavely’s contribution is unique in that he does it while writing almost within the genre itself! (I know, it’s a work of fiction, but it’s written in the first-person.)

    Second, the book provides an imaginative call for Christian hope. I mentioned this already, but it deserves to be highlighted. Too often Christians, like the world around us, can lose—or become distracted from—our eternal perspective. Scripture calls for the opposite! “Look forward!” “Tell everyone about the hope that you have!” “Be prepared for the coming of our Lord!” “This world is not our home!” Swavely encourages the reader to think beyond their own life, beyond this world, and into the heavenlies.

    Finally, this book teaches theology. Swavely could not have made it more clear that this work is one of fiction. However, all fiction carries with it the ideologies and worldviews of their authors (think Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth). In fact, fiction is a powerful teacher. The author of this book knows that well and does not hesitate to inject theological quips, assertions, and sermonettes into the tale. At times, I found it a bit distracting and heavy-handed as the author clearly has particular theological convictions (who doesn’t!?), many of which are popular in Christian publishing right now, e.g., calvinism, ceasationism, amillennialism, a refromed systematic, and lordship salvation. Then again, I may have been imagining those and have just proven myself hyper-sensitive. Either way, conservative theology needs to be taught and I applaud Swavely for his efforts in doing so through an enjoyable, well-written story.

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