Without further ado to you, I present Mara Purnhagen, author of Past Midnight!
Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents' research trip in Charleston—and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….
Why the dead make great neighbors
While working on Past Midnight, my new paranormal series for Harlequin Teen, I thought about my own experiences with the not-quite-normal. I realized I knew one thing for sure: the dead make great neighbors. They’re quiet, distant, and they don’t mind if your lawn hasn’t been mowed in a month. I know this for a fact because I spent my high school years living across the street from an old cemetery, where Civil War soldiers lay next to wealthy entrepreneurs. While some people may have been unsettled to have a thousand souls resting so close by, my family didn’t mind.
The dead are great neighbors.
Just don’t bother them on Halloween.
When I first saw the house my parents had bought, my attention was quickly drawn to the cemetery across the street. Perched on a wide hill, it boasted twenty-eight acres of bodies, and the only thing separating them from me was a two-lane street and several feet of dirt. I didn’t believe in zombies, but I knew that if the dead ever did wake up, my house would be the first one they’d visit. It wasn’t a comforting thought.
I avoided the place for a while, but my parents liked to take walks through the property, so I went along a few times. It was cooler on the hill and the tombstones were definitely interesting. Established in 1850, the cemetery featured huge monuments and a Gothic-style receiving vault. It was a quiet, tree-lined space that had survived a massive tornado in 1980. It was peaceful—until the fraternities needed it.
We lived in a college town, which I loved. Saturday afternoons in the fall were filled with the sounds of a massive marching band performing on the nearby football field. Random Frisbees landed in our yard. Coffee houses sprung up like dandelions. But after a hazing incident, one college banned the initiation rite on campus. Fraternities were forced to look elsewhere for a place to torture their recruits—and they looked across the street.
Halloween was a busy time in our neighborhood. We dutifully set out a jack-o-lantern and passed out candy bars every year. When the holiday landed on a Friday night, I was thrilled because I could stay up extra late. That night, after stuffing myself with chocolate and trying to scare my younger brothers with spooky stories, I looked out the living room window, which offered a clear view of the cemetery. I saw movement. People were milling around in groups. After a large crowd had gathered, they made their way around some tombstones and out of my line of sight.
I stayed on the sofa, where I could watch the entrance. Something was about to happen, but I had no idea what. Nearly half an hour passed. Maybe the intruders had exited through the other side of the cemetery, I thought. I was about to give up my vigil and go to bed when I saw it: flashes of white light in the distance, like silent fireworks. A moment later I heard the screams.
Dozens of college guys came running out of the cemetery. I saw them leap over tombstones and trip over rocks. They were desperate to escape. I quietly stepped out onto my front porch. The police had arrived and were rounding up the guys, many of whom were dressed in a fraternity sweatshirts. The guys were yelling. It was basically incoherent from where I was standing, but I did catch a few sentences. “We didn’t do it! It wasn’t part of the plan! It wasn’t us! It was real!”
I don’t know what happened in that cemetery on Halloween night. Obviously, the fraternity boys had planned some kids of hazing ritual there, but something else happened, something they had not expected. Maybe someone else had been waiting for them with their own prank. Or maybe my quiet neighbors had been annoyed by the late-night guests and decided that for once, they wouldn’t be so distant.
The cemetery was in the back of my mind when I began writing my first novella, Raising the Dead. It’s a companion to Past Midnight, in which a girl discovers that she has accidentally triggered paranormal energy. I like the idea of cemeteries being peaceful places, and I wanted to write about what happens when that peace is disturbed.
Over the years other groups snuck into the cemetery when they shouldn’t have. The police always caught a few. I never saw the silent lights again, but I wondered what they were.
Too bad I couldn’t ask the neighbors.
Here's the cemetery that Mara is talking about: [link]
And HERE'S a giveaway to win a copy of Past Midnight, Mara's newest book! It's very spook worthy - just look at that summary above! Not only am I giving away a copy of that, but to go along with them, the winners will get copies of And even better? There are TWO WINNERS! How great is that!?
 Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen up for grabs
 The Fun of Dying! Find Out What Happens Next by Roberta Grimes up for grabs
 winners in the U.S. or Canada only
ends on Halloween
How To Win:
[mandatory] fill out the form below