In the Midnight Hour

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was afraid of the dark… That was me. I relied on my special star night light for years.

Something about the midnight hour spooked me. Who knew what lurked out there in the darkness?

Sliver of moon in night sky

That’s why I have a certain fondness for pretty lights and lanterns:

Chandelier made by Chihuly--spiky yellow glass shards with white tips
Chihuly chandelier (Catalina Island)
Pastel colored globe lanterns on polished floor with floral folding screen behind it
Round sphere lanterns (Tokyo)

One evening, I grew bold and turned off the night light—and made it out alive (hurrah!) the next day. My fear was vanquished.

When I learned about the opportunity to be in the Midnight Hour anthology, I was also afraid. The submissions call asked for a dark story in the crime fiction vein. It took a leap of faith for me to create a grittier tale, but I tried and submitted it. My story, “Midnight Escapade,” centers on a secret escape room that happens at midnight.

Midnight Hour has been getting kudos, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a mention in New York Times.

Starred review from Publishers Weekly with Midnight Hour anthology cover; "Full of varied voices, this volume is a must read for mystery aficionados."

Here is a sampling of stories from some of my fellow amazing authors:

Christopher Chambers’ “In the Matter of Mabel and Bobby Jefferson”: A bored call center worker catches a customer inquiry that smells of murder.

*David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s “Skin”: The sinister story features the theft of a book covered in the skin of a Native American.

E.A. Aymar’s “The Search for Eric Garcia”: An inventive tale that’s written like a twisted choose your own adventure . . . with devastating results.

Gigi Pandian’s “The Diamond Vanishes”: Sanjay, the Hindi Houdini, oversees a séance that spins out of his control.

Tracy Clark’s “Lucky Thirteen”: Predator and prey come together over a last meal—where there can only be one survivor. 

*Special note: November is National Native American Heritage Month, and today is Native American Heritage Day. I want to highlight David, who is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota nation.

What was a childhood fear of yours?

Midnight Hour anthology surrounded by white garland and ghost jar-o-lantern plus "Give thanks" sign

From a simple robbery gone horribly wrong to a grisly murder in a secret love dungeon, this stellar collection of crime fiction short stories showcases some of today’s finest voices of color.

Edited by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Abby L. Vandiver, this thrilling anthology will keep you on the edge of your seat.


33 thoughts on “In the Midnight Hour

  1. This book is SO good! Congrats, Jen – and everyone in it.

    When I was really little, they re-ran PETER PAN on TV. You know how Captain Hook lost a hand to a crocodile? I became terrified there was a crocodile under my bed and started sleeping with my hands under my head so they wouldn’t dangle over the bed where the croc could get them.

    I still sleep that way.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Looks like another one for the TBR pile!

    I can’t remember a specific childhood phobia, but I do remember a move that scared the crap out of me and gave me nightmares for months. It was the 1953 production of ‘Invaders from Mars’ , which I likely saw on a weekend creature feature. The plot involves a kid of about my age who sees a flying saucer disappear in a swamp behind his home. When his dad goes to investigate, he disappears underground. Then mom goes to find dad. Ditto. Later, his parents return with a peculiar cold-eyed stare, speaking in monosyllables. Eventually everyone the kid knows has succumbed. I suppose seeing the same movie today would evoke laughter, but I totally identified with the kid in the film at the time. I got so bad that my mom even revoked my creature feature viewing privileges at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fabulous sounding book, Jen!
      When I was a kid, my family always watched The Wizard of Oz when it made its annual appearance on TV. The winged monkeys scared the daylights out of me. I shiver just thinking about them.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Well, I am off to buy this anthology–my only purchase on Black Friday, ha! It sounds awesome. And Jen, I loved hearing your story about the star night light. I could relate. As a child, my room was at the opposite end of the house from my parents’, facing the road. I always thought some stranger would sneak into the house and kidnap me. But my scariest memories? A movie called “Them!” which featured giant ants that took over some city (LA?) through the sewers or something. These creatures were often seen as huge shadows, and before you saw them you heard the most horrible, terrible clicking noise. Terrifying. Also an episode of Dark Shadows which featured a portrait in the attic of someone who started swiftly aging. (Some riff on Dorian Gray?) Anyway, I did not find either of those campy or funny. I cannot watch horror or scary movies to this day, but I’m okay with the books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember my parents used to go house browsing for fun and say that the ideal home design didn’t have the kids’ room near the road.

      Lisa, I totally relate about movies. We watched them as kids, but I try to avoid horror movies nowadays.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve always had a fear of complete darkness; it makes me feel like I’m being suffocated. So although I don’t necessarily need a night light, I do need SOME kind of light filtering into the room, whether it be starlight, a street light down the road, the moon, anything to allow me to see my hand in the dark (’cause you never know if a crocodile might have snapped it off…)

    That anthology looks so fab–and yay you, Jen, for your story being in it! Huzzah!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So many phobias as a kid. (Still a few as an adult!) But, in Memphis on Friday nights there was a late show that played scary movies called Fantastic Features. Whenever I spent the night with my friend Teresa, her mom would let us camp in sleeping bags in the den — with the TV. The movies were campy and I could watch them peeking through my fingers. But the host named Sivad (I learned much later was just Davis spelled backwards) truly terrified me; I had nightmares about him. He opened the show wearing vampire type make-up, driving a horse-drawn hearse, laughing maniacally. He called himself the Monster of Ceremonies!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I can’t wait to read this anthology, Jen, and so glad you pushed your personal envelope and got your story included!

    As for fears, nothing scared me as a kid. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that the world loomed large. Couldn’t even read Stephen King anymore!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Please forgive the late weigh-in, Jen! I blame computer gremlins (and tryptophan).

    Congrats on the anthology to you and the other fabulous authors It looks AMAZING. And yay for writing outside your comfort zone!

    I was (and, okay, am) afraid of spiders. I would often claim that they chased me. Chances are that any running they did was a result of confusion, but I chalked it up to arachnoid malice. I may still be right!

    Liked by 1 person

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