Thursday, 22 May 2014

Getting to know ... Shani Struthers

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall is a paranormal mystery and the start of a series of books that will only get darker.

What made you choose that genre?
Since young my two favourite genres have been romance and paranormal – a strange mix I know – blend the two and I’m just as happy. I also write contemporary romance (my first novel – The Runaway Year – is a romance set in Cornwall and it’s sequel is due out this year). But, as I don’t just read one genre, I don’t want to write just one genre either. After completing The Runaway Year, it was Psychic Surveys that flowed next. Following on from that it was the sequel to the first book. It’s back to the darkness now. I like to alternate!

How long does it take you to write a book?
When I write a book I get completely immersed – the world I’m writing about is often more ‘real’ than the world I live in (which in the case of The Haunting can get interesting!). So far I’ve written four books, each has taken me between 3 to 6 months. After that though, comes the hard work. I have a trusty band of beta readers I deliver each book to. They critique, I amend (if I agree it needs amending, sometime I stick to my guns) and then it’s editing, editing, editing. Oh, and proofreading. By the time I’ve finished, I can practically recite each book word perfect!

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I have three children so I tend to write whilst they’re at school. Having said that, if I’m really in the flow, I write when they come home too. The burnt dinners those poor children have suffered because I’ve been unable to tear myself away from the computer screen! They’re proud of me though and my eldest (16) now wants to be a writer herself! Basically, I write when I can. If an idea hits me when I’m out no problem. That’s what the notepad on my iPhone was invented for!

Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I love Cornwall, especially the North, so I wanted to set some books there, hence the Runaway series. Regarding The Haunting, my husband is a structural engineer. Many a time he’s surveyed a new house and the owners have said they’re on the look out for ghosts – almost gleefully they say this but some have been more worried. This gave him the idea for another kind of surveying service – Psychic Surveys – specialising in domestic spiritual cleansing. In reality, I think there are many flaws to such a business idea but in fiction, it could work beautifully – so I took the idea and ran. In the Haunting, Psychic Surveys is run by Ruby Davis, a young psychic, as a high street business. She has a team of freelancers working for her, all psychic to varying degrees. Together they work on cases in and around Sussex, their success ensuring them a solid reputation. This reputation is threatened, however, by the new owner of Highdown Hall and the ghost of 1950s movies star, Cynthia Hart… The ideas just keep on flowing and there’s a Psychic Surveys Two in the pipeline!

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The Runaway Year is my first book and I wrote that just a couple of years ago. I am a copywriter by trade, however, and have been since leaving university at 21. Before that, I dabbled in poetry but only really for my own pleasure.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My extra-curricular activities include reading, walking in the countryside and socialising with friends. I also love a good movie, horror being my ultimate favourite on that score but not gory stuff – I like my horror much cleverer than that. I also love a good thriller.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it! Honestly, that is the most surprising thing. That I could take a story and all it’s different threads and weave them together in a page-turning way for around 80,000 to 90,000 words. I’ve also been surprised by the strength of the writing community on social media, how friendly people are, how welcoming, how willing they are to help you on your way. And finally, the ideas well, how it never dries up.

How many books have you written?
I’ve completed four and am currently working on my fifth (Psychic Surveys Book Two). Two are published, the third is coming out this year and the fourth is on submission.

Which is your favourite and why?
I love them all equally – they’re my babies, I have to say that! Seriously though, whatever book I’m working on at the time is my favourite, I just become so immersed in it, live and breathe the characters. I’ve just finished Jessamin(e) – the book currently on submission – and it’s a paranormal mystery/romance. I LOVED writing that book, I love all the characters (even the dead ones) and I think the romance within it is very touching.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I just wanted to write, which I have done, as a copywriter and an author. I’m a writing machine!

What are you working on now?
I’m writing Psychic Surveys Book Two. Around a week ago I didn’t have a clue re storyline and then it came to me in a blinding flash. I like those blinding flash moments and I tend to go with them. The idea involves a lot of research, but that’s fine – I tend to research as I go along rather than before. I’m really excited about writing it, although after that I’ll go onto something lighter, another romance maybe, it’s not good to immerse yourself in the darkness for too long! As I said earlier, I intend to swing between the dark and the light.


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