Cathy Kanavy/NBC
June 09, 2017 at 08:09 PM EDT

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at ATX in Austin, Texas. Go inside the TV festival with all our coverage, available here.

Midnight, Texas has a little bit of something for everyone. Based on the best-selling book series by Charlaine Harris (of True Bloodfame), it stars a psychic (François Arnaud) on the run who goes to hide out in the sleepy town of Midnight, Texas. Turns out it’s a place full of secrets and strange inhabitants — including a vampire, witch, angel, and a hitwoman — to say nothing of a droll talking cat. “Every episode is a carnival ride,” said Monica Owusu-Breen, one of the writers and executive producers, after the first episode screened at the ATX Festival in Austin, Texas on Friday. “I mean, there’s a talking cat!” The show, which premieres on NBC on July 24, lightly treds between horror, comedy, supernatural and Western genres.

Joining Owusu-Breen on stage were stars Peter Mensah (the blue-eyed vampire) and Arielle Kebbel (badass hitwoman) to talk the differences from the books (Owusu-Breen says she used Harris’s first and third book for the first season) and what might differentiate the worlds of Midnight, Texas from that of True Blood. “I think for me what makes Midnight special is that it has this kind heart in the middle of it,” says Owusu-Breen. “All these people who have never felt at home or who have been persecuted or have suffered have found a place they’re accepted. That’s different from True Blood. From [True Blood‘s] first cold open that show was about desire and blood and body fluids.”

The show held a special personal appeal for veteran television producer Owusu-Breen (who is an alumnus of Lost, Alias and Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D, among others).

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“It’s weird. Two years ago, my mom, my mother-in-law, and my dog all died within four weeks. I had to get my mind off things and what do writers do? We write stories. I had this book sent to me and after two chapters I was like ok, I have to. My mom lived in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere and my mother-in-law was a psychic in a small town, it felt like — I tried to take my mind off of these things but they were up there going, nahhh you need to deal with this stuff.

Midnight, Texas premieres on July 24 on NBC.

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