Tuesday, 24 May 2016
SPIRIT OF PLACE - an interview with Shani Struthers
Today I'm thrilled to welcome the fabulous Shani Struthers to my blog. Shani (it's pronounced to rhyme with "brainy" - and the resemblance doesn't end there!) is the author of the Psychic Surveys series of paranormal novels, the latest of which - 44 Gilmore Street - is released this coming Friday.
What prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?
I’ve always written and became a freelance copywriter for the travel industry two years after leaving university – a job I still do. The first novel, however, was around four years ago and it was a romance called The Runaway Year, about three friends and their varied love lives set in the stunning surrounds of North Cornwall. Much to my surprise I got several offers of publication for that book and added a second to it, The Runaway Ex and a third, The Return. And then… I changed tack completely! I loved writing romance but my heart has always belonged to the paranormal and so, two years ago, I penned Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall, which become an Amazon bestseller!
Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?
44 Gilmore Street is the third book in a series of six concerning high street consultancy, Psychic Surveys, who specialise in domestic spiritual cleansing. Having problems of a ghostly nature in your house? It’s this team of freelance psychics, spearheaded by Ruby Davis you’re going to want to call! Rather than horror, each one is a paranormal mystery but the books do get darker.
What was the inspiration for this book?
A real-life business idea! My husband Rob is a Structural Engineer and on occasion, when called out to survey houses that people are moving into, he’s been asked by the client ‘do you think this house is okay, you know, you don’t think it’s haunted or anything?’ One day he replied that he did think the house he was surveying was haunted; there was a really bad feeling in one of the bedrooms. The client thought so too and was worried by it. When they moved in her son was supposed to sleep in that room but he refused.
Calling Rob back to do some more work, she mentioned it to him and, it just so happens, that my mother has undertaken spiritual cleansing of rooms utilising purely holistic methods (ie Reiki and crystals). Rob offered her services, the woman accepted and Mum and her friend went along to tune-in. They got the impression someone had died there and carried out the usual psychic cleansing routine and all was well after that, the boy slept happily in his new room. Intrigued, the owner delved deeper into the history of the house and sadly, there had been a suicide there with negative residue perhaps lingering.
Regarding making it a real business, it’s an ethical minefield, so I’ve taken the idea and reworked it in fiction instead!
Did you do any research for the book?
I know lots about the psychic world because of Mum; she’s had a life-long interest in it so I’ve been brought up with her talking about it. As a result, I see the paranormal as something completely normal, after all, why shouldn’t a spiritual world exist alongside our material one? It just makes sense to me. But yes, I do research as well, usually pointed in the right direction by Mum!
Do you plot your novels in advance, or allow them to develop as you write?
I have tried to plot them in advance but it just doesn’t work for me – the characters take on a life of their own and, in the end, write the novel for me. Trusting in them and the muse, I let them get on with it! Sometimes I do wish I could plot a bit more, it agitates me sometimes not knowing where it’s going but then it’s exciting too!
Which writers have influenced your own writing?
Just lately, Shirley Jackson who wrote The Haunting of Hill House – that book is a real lesson is less is more. Whilst writing Book One of my new series – This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian – I really tried to employ that ethos. I also love Susan Hill’s paranormal novellas, particularly The Woman in Black.
“We all have to face our demons at some point.”
Psychic Surveys – specialists in domestic spiritual clearance – have never been busier. Although exhausted, Ruby is pleased. Her track record as well as her down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach inspires faith in the haunted, who willingly call on her high street consultancy when the supernatural takes hold.
But that’s all about to change.
Two cases prove trying: 44 Gilmore Street, home to a particularly violent spirit, and the reincarnation case of Elisha Grey. When Gilmore Street attracts press attention, matters quickly deteriorate. Dubbed the ‘New Enfield’, the ‘Ghost of Gilmore Street’ inflames public imagination, but as Ruby and the team fail repeatedly to evict the entity, faith in them wavers.
Dealing with negative press, the strangeness surrounding Elisha, and a spirit that’s becoming increasingly territorial, Ruby’s at breaking point. So much is pushing her towards the abyss, not least her own past. It seems some demons just won’t let go…
Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street
More about Shani:
I write ghost stories – vampires, werewolves and shape shifters need not apply! Influences include the great Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m also a mum of three children, and live in the funky city of Brighton with them, my husband and four mad cats. I’ve always loved reading and writing but occasionally I venture outdoors on sunny days and walk in the stunning green downs that surround us. Other pastimes include hanging out with friends and just having fun – life’s too short not to.
Social Media Links
Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9