Even Ghosts Need the Chance to Speak the Truth, Don’t They?
Sam finally allows himself to look up. He and Lacy lock eyes, and a joyous warmth rushes through him.
Meet Lacy and Sam. She is a sixteen-year-old wannabe slam poet who wakes up in an historic cemetery–confused. He is a 17-year-old Civil War soldier whose job it is to teach new ghosts the strict rules of there after and to warn her about Suppression, a punishment even worse than death. Lacy desperately wants to leave the stifling cemetery and find out how she died, but every soul is obligated to perform a job. Given the task of providing entertainment, Lacy organizes an open mic. With the help of Sam and other new allies, will the open mic become a chance for the sad, frightened residents of the cemetery to finally express themselves? WARNING: This novel contains profanity as well as sensitive and complex themes related to death, dying, alcohol abuse, and physical abuse, and is for mature teens and adults.
What Makes the Book Unique?
- Hybrid play-novel form. I started this as a play and decided to incorporate various play writing elements into the process, but did not follow the rules of either form.
- Narrator voice and direct address.
- Mix of humor and seriousness.
- Historical setting. The play-novel takes place in Westminster Cemetery, the actual cemetery where Edgar Allan Poe is buried.
- Edgar Allan Poe, his Raven, and his family. Fans of Poe’s twisted tales will meet a newly imagined Poe and a trio of his relations.
Pre-Publication Praise for the Book
“Mary Amato’s inventive Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery finds humor in the grave. Formatted as a play, with a helpful narrator occasionally chiming in, Open Mic Night dares readers to laugh at the macabre. Even though the main cast is already dead, the threat of Suppression is serious enough to create notable tension, and the revealed secrets of a few characters are memorable and affecting. Additionally, Lacy’s liberal use of profanity (she’s particularly fond of yelling “F*ck!” in the quiet graveyard) allows the reader to feel as jarred by her presence as the Dead do. Open Mic Night reinvents the afterlife in a way that’s both mysterious and playful.” –Shelf Awareness.
“Amato (Guitar Notes, 2012) is no stranger to playing with form and genre…a unique read that fans of Poe, poetry, or stage plays will find something to grab onto.” –Booklist
“The resulting alchemy capitalizes on the strengths of both media to create a unique, fully-realized world… Quoth the Raven, “Encore.”–Kirkus
“This foray into experimental, gothic theatrical storytelling by Amato (Guitar Notes) intriguingly integrates modern sensibilities with archaic authoritarianism.” –Publishers’ Weekly
Author Notes about the Writing Process
Find out more about my writing process and watch a video about one of my revision exercises in this link.
Author Notes about the Research Process
Find out more about my research process in this link to come.
Essays/Interviews/Blogposts related to the book
Listening to Old Ghosts: The Haunting Influence of Our Town and Spoon River Anthology published in Teen Librarian Toolbox.
Performing in an Open Mic for B&N Teen Blog, September 2018.
See my gallery of images used in writing and researching.