Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Q&A with Emily Ruth Verona




Emily Ruth Verona is the author of the new novel Midnight on Beacon Street. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Pinch and LampLight Magazine. She lives in New Jersey.


Q: What inspired you to write Midnight on Beacon Street?


A: I love horror movies and I love the babysitter trope. With Midnight on Beacon Street, I saw a way to interact with both of these.


I am also fascinated with stories that take place in one setting over a specific amount of time. The movie Rope (1948) is a prime example. The entire thing takes place over the course of a single dinner party.


I was really interested in the idea of exploring one household on one night, with a limited cast of characters. It makes for a very intimate little puzzle. 


Q: Why did you decide to set the novel in New Jersey in 1993?


A: I'm from New Jersey and set a lot of my fiction here, when possible. I know the area well. The 1990s were a very formative time for me.


I am 12 years younger than my two older siblings. When I was a little kid in the 1990s, they were full-fledged teenagers. That meant a lot of the pop culture I knew growing up was a mix of the kid-friendly and the not-so-kid friendly.


I picked 1993 specifically because that is the year Jurassic Park was released in theaters. That film is foundational for me as a movie-lover. It's one of the first live-action movies I can remember watching as a child. I still get goosebumps when I hear the theme! 


Q: The writer Polly Stewart said of the book, “The shade of Shirley Jackson haunts this page-turner, which abounds in classic horror movie references, both revisiting and critiquing the tale of a babysitter left alone with kids she may or may not be able to protect.” What do you think of that description?

A: Honestly, I'm tremendously honored by Polly's words. They are so kind!


I'm particularly glad she sees the book as "revisiting and critiquing" the babysitter tale, because that's exactly what I was going for with this one. I wanted to take this very recognizable horror concept and turn it around in my hands a little bit. Examine all the edges.


It's always exciting when someone reads your work and gets out of it exactly what you'd hope they would get out of it. 


Q: Without giving anything away, did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Both, sort of? Haha. This happens to me a lot but especially with Midnight on Beacon Street. I knew the beginning and the very end.


It was the middle, mostly that last stretch of middle before the end, that I struggled with for a long time. I wasn't sure how to achieve what I wanted to achieve with it.


None of the solutions I came up with felt right for the story. They either felt uninteresting to me or too easy. I wanted to do something very specific there but I wasn't sure what that was yet. It took me a few years of revision to get the story right.  


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I just finished a short poetry collection and I am currently revising another thriller! This novel is set in the present with New York State as the backdrop instead of New Jersey.


The entire thing centers around one family and that family's complicated history. I've always been fascinated by family dynamics and so it's an exciting project to work on. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I've got some short fiction out at the moment! "Three Nights with the Angel of Death" is a western in Along Harrowed Trails from Timber Ghost Press. "Moonshine" is a bootlegging story and can be found in Monster Lairs from Dark Matter INK. "Tashlich" is an epistolary tale in Dead Letters from Crystal Lake Publishing.


I also have some work in a few magazines and a poem in the Under Her Eye anthology from Blackspot Books. That one is really special because Blackspot has partnered with The Pixel Project for it in the effort to end violence against women on a global scale.


My full bibliography can be found at I'm on most social media platforms under @emilyrverona


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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