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MIDNIGHT ON BEACON STREET: An Interview with Author Emily Ruth Verona
Good morning and happy Sunday! I’m Grace R. Reynolds and today I am sharing a special treat with you: an interview with friend and fellow author, Emily Ruth Verona, on her upcoming release “Midnight on Beacon Street.”
October 1993. One night. One house. One dead body.
When single mom Eleanor Mazinski goes out a for a much-needed date night, she leaves her two young children—sweet, innocent six-year-old Ben and precocious, defiant twelve-year-old Mira—in the capable hands of their sitter, Amy. The quiet seventeen-year-old is good at looking after children, despite her anxiety disorder. She also loves movies, especially horror flicks. Amy likes their predictability; it calms the panic that threatens to overwhelm her.
The evening starts out normally enough, with games, pizza, and dancing. But as darkness falls, events in this quaint suburban New Jersey house take a terrifying turn—unexpected visitors at the door, mysterious phone calls, and by midnight, little Ben is in the kitchen standing in a pool of blood, with a dead body at his feet.
In this dazzling debut novel, Emily Ruth Verona moves back and forth in time, ratcheting up suspense and tension on every page. Chock-full of nods to classic horror films of the seventies and eighties, Midnight on Beacon Street is a gripping thriller full of electrifying twists and a heartwarming tale of fear and devotion that explores our terrors and the lengths we’ll go to keep our loved ones safe.
TITLE: Midnight On Beacon Street
AUTHOR: Emily Ruth Verona
REPRESENTATION: JVLN Literary Agency
PUBLISHER: Harper Perennial Press
RELEASE DATE: 30 JAN 2024
I had the immense pleasure of reading an advance copy of Emily’s debut novel earlier this year and have been singing praises for it ever since. As thrilling as it is suspenseful, Verona hooks her readers from the very first scene with a dead body. Let’s get into it!
Emily Ruth Verona
[Grace]: The synopsis hooked me as a child of the nineties with a love for nostalgia of the time! Shows like “Goosebumps” and “Are You Afraid of The Dark?” reeled me in at a young age. It's evident you drew some inspiration for your debut novel from classic horror films from this era, as well as the fun slashers of the 1980s and 1970s. Can you share some of your favorite media from this golden era of horror?
[Emily]: I credit Are You Afraid of the Dark? with much of who I am today haha. That show had a HUGE impact on me growing up. I also have a brother who is 14 years older than me and loves horror movies, so it's just always been a genre that's felt like home to me. I didn't read much horror fiction as a kid, which I realize in retrospect was odd. I read a lot of historical fiction and fantasy. But I loved scary shows and scary movies. Scream and Final Destination were two of my favorites growing up. And Sleepy Hollow! The mystery facet of horror always fascinated me. My brain would spin round and round trying to unmask the killer or figure out the twist before it happened.
[G]: Your protagonist, Amy, lives with anxiety and does not fit the mold of what readers may consider the conventional “final girl.” Was it important for you as an author to share this representation with your readers?
[E]: Absolutely! Historically, horror has primarily addressed mental health in relation to trauma. I wanted to explore the experience of someone who was born with different wiring. Amy has no painful backstory. Her anxiety stems from the way she is built as a person and the stresses of being a teenager. Because sometimes, that's all it takes. And it can be hard to reconcile why you are the way you are in those instances. Especially at her age. You have so much to learn about yourself.
[G]: Were there any troublesome scenes for you to write? How did you overcome them?
[E]: The entire second half of the book! About halfway through, I just felt stuck. This happens a lot with me. I know the first half of the story. I know the ending. But there's that final stretch in between the middle and the end that I just can't figure out. Working on Midnight on Beacon Street is probably my most extreme instance of this. I shelved the project for several years because I didn't know what to do with that section.
[G]: “Midnight On Beacon Street” is told through the perspectives of Amy and Ben, one of the children Amy is babysitting. What were some of the benefits you found as a storyteller approaching your novel this way?
[E]: I love the child's perspective in mystery and horror fiction. You really have to get inside the mind of the character. For Amy, I knew what it was like to be an anxious teenage girl but I loved the idea of pairing two different perspectives that would view the same events differently. I should also add that I was babysitting two of my nieces three days a week during the time that I started this story. I was spending a lot of time around them and their friends and I think it really helped me delve into Ben and his sister, Mira, as characters. I could not have written these kids the way I did without having spent so much time around children during this period of my life.
[G]: Do you have a favorite line from your book?
[E]: I do but it gives too much away. I will just say that it is something Ben says to Amy later in the book. Recently, my boyfriend (who is currently reading the book) texted me about my description of a side character and that line I'm quite proud of too. The line he was referring to calls this character "a Madonna-inspired Mary Poppins" and I always smile remembering that I wrote this line.
[G]: If there was one song that could adequately capture the mood of your novel, what would it be?
[E]: "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. But I feel like that's too easy an answer. I think "Blue Light" by Mazzy Star is also a good one. I actually made a Spotify playlist for the book that I will be sharing closer to the release date. Both of these tracks are on it.
Fun fact: growing up my brother's bedroom was directly above mine. He would blast Metallica and other hard rock/metal into the night. This was the soundtrack of my childhood. I still feel a weird sense of calm and familiarity whenever any of this stuff plays in a bar or on the radio.
[G]: Are there any novels, films, or television written in the same vein as “Midnight On Beacon Street” you can recommend to your readers?
[E]: Hmmm...this is a good question! The structure of the novel being told non-linearly was definitely inspired by the movie Memento and the television series How to Get Away With Murder, but neither of those are really in the same vein. Definitely the original Halloween film. For nostalgic vintage horror vibes, I'd recommend anything by Riley Sager as well as Night Film by Marisha Pessl, Burn the Negative by Josh Winning, Curse of the Reaper by Brian McAuley, and Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. I beta read an awesome New Jersey-set horror novel by Danielle Robertson that should be at the very top of this list, but she's currently on submission with that project so you can't read it yet.
[G]: You also run Frightful Horror. Please tell us a little more about this initiative.
[E]: It started the way most of my fiction starts: I made the thing I wanted to read. I love reading author interviews. I love niche book round-ups and personal essays and weird historical facts. Being able to do that while lifting up other writers and sharing their work with new readers is so much fun! It can be a lot of work doing it all by myself (Frightful is on Patreon if anyone is interested!) but it's work I really love doing.
[G]: Where can readers connect with you online?
[E]: I'm everywhere haha. There's my website www.emilyruthverona.com and www.frightfulhorror.com. I'm on Twitter(X), Instagram, Threads, Youtube, and BlueSky under @emilyrverona. The YouTube page is really just the Midnight on Beacon Street trailer I made, but I'm pretty active everywhere else.
[G]: Can you tell us about your publications coming soon?
[E]: Midnight on Beacon Street comes out on January 30, 2024. Last month I had two flash fiction pieces published online, "The Spiritualist" in wigleaf and "A Haunting" in Coffin Bell. I also have new stories in Dark Matter Presents: Monster Lairs and the Haunted Mansion issue of The Magpie Messenger as well as a poem in Under Her Eye from Blackspot Books. I have an epistolary short story called "Tashlich" in the Dead Letters anthology coming out from Jacob Steven Mohr and Crystal Lake Publishing on December 1st. It's been an exciting and busy time. I'm not usually this busy.
[G]: Thankyou for chatting with me about your novel, Emily!
About the Author
Emily Ruth Verona received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Cinema Studies from the State University of New York at Purchase. In 2014 she won the Pinch Literary Award in Fiction. She is a Bram Stoker Award nominee, a Jane Austen Short Story Award Finalist, and a Luke Bitmead Bursary Finalist. Previous publication credits include fiction and poetry featured in several anthologies as well as magazines such as The Pinch, Lamplight Magazine, Mystery Tribune, Black Telephone Magazine, The Ghastling, and Nightmare Magazine. Her essays/articles have appeared online for Tor, Bookbub, Litro, BUST, and Bloody Women. In 2023, she founded the horror book blog Frightful. Her novel, Midnight on Beacon Street, will be published by Harper Perennial in 2024. She lives in New Jersey with a very small dog.
Thanks for reading! Are you excited for this coming release? I hope you love it as much as I did!
Happy Sunday! Stay safe, and stay spooky.