Fay Weldon’s Christian faith was of little comfort when she nearly died and found herself at the pearly gates. The 77-year-old novelist had a near-death experience in 2006, when a severe allergic reaction briefly stopped her heart.

It wasn’t the usual, blissful trip through a glowing tunnel. “I had this vision,” she tells Elizabeth Grice in the London Daily Telegraph. “There were the pearly gates, but they were double-glazed pearly gates. Not a nice, genteel English taupe color but phosphorescent oranges and pinks, like an Indian temple. When they slipped open, there was this terrible creature on the other side like a German expressionist drawing.” Weldon assumed it was Cerberus, the mythical three-headed dog that guards Hades. “It was trying to pull me through and these other people—presumably the doctors—were trying to pull me back in a tug of war.”

When she recovered, she told the medical staff, “If that was dying, I don’t want to do it again.” Not only does the hereafter have vulgar décor, Weldon says, it’s “just more of the same. More struggle.”