October is upon us and there is no better time to treat yourself to an eerie ghost story. Eventide is a haunting Southern Gothic historical fantasy from debut author Sarah Goodman that follows a young woman named Verity Pruitt as she uncovers unsettling secrets from her family’s unearthly past. Read more about Sarah’s inspiration behind her new novel below!
The seeds of a story are often scattered in the most unlikely places. That’s especially true for Eventide. It’s the story of Verity Pruitt, a girl who loses her home in New York City and her plans to become a physician after her father is placed in an insane asylum. Without warning, Verity is sent to work on a farm in Arkansas. And although this book eventually came to feel like a Southern Gothic Anne of Green Gables with a twist of magic, it started with a pretty commonplace inspiration.
A bumper sticker. The first inkling for this book came from a single sentence printed in red block lettering and plastered on the back of a station wagon: “I Rode an Orphan Train.”
That phrase sent me down a research rabbit hole. I learned that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, parentless children were shipped from cities in the East to rural farming communities in the South and Midwest. When I discovered it was routine to separate siblings, I found myself imagining a teenaged girl, someone who was determined, protective, and a little prickly, learning that her younger sibling would be taken from her. How would she take that news? The answer was: not well! And picturing this girl’s reaction gave me my first clues as to who the main character, Verity Pruitt, would turn out to be.
Much of what happens to Verity during her time in Wheeler, Arkansas, was dreamed up by letting my imagination run amok through some of the things I love best as a reader. There are fog-draped woods that conceal a mysterious, eldritch well. Small town scandals and ghost sightings. A mysterious disappearance and long-buried family secrets. And, because I’ve loved The Princess Bride for decades, there’s a blond farm boy.
As Verity struggles to fit into her new life as a farmhand, she learns that something unearthly is going on in the nearby woods. It’s not in her nature to let questions go unanswered, and soon her search for the truth unearths some shocking discoveries. Verity finds out a long ago betrayal has set a plan for revenge in motion, and someone in the little town will do anything to see that plan to fruition. Even if it means silencing Verity, forever.
I hope you enjoy your time in Wheeler, Arkansas. But please, for your own safety: Stay out of the woods.