Happy Christmas to Us All!

unknownI admit it, I’m not  one of life’s great bloggers but as it’s Christmas, I’ve decided to dig it out, dust it off and get some words down! And who know, my New Year’s resolution might be to make more use of it!

Well, it’s been a rather interesting year on a global scale, but perhaps the less said about that the better – for the moment anyway. On a personal front, it’s been an interesting year too. As a member of two author co-operatives, Authors Reach and Storyland Press, I’m beginning to learn a lot about the business of publishing as well as writing and the huge effort that goes into sustaining visibility in what is a very busy market. Did I say effort? Well, it is but it’s hugely enjoyable too and endlessly fascinating. And what makes it all worth it is the feedback I get from readers, some of whom have supported me from the very first book, which was…. The Runaway Year in 2013! That seems like a VERY long time ago now.

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So, 2016 saw the release of three novels from me – Psychic Surveys Three: 44 Gilmore Street, the first in a new series, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian and Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella. All have done very well indeed and received great feedback. The story of Gilmore Street is a very personal one with shades of the Enfield Haunting about it, whereas Blakemort was my first foray into writing in the first person and features Corinna, one of the Psychic Surveys team, reliving the time she spent as a child in a house in deepest darkest Sussex – a house that could never be considered a home. The Venetian was a pleasure to write, set between Venice, ‘the world’s most haunted city’ and Poveglia in the Venetian Lagoon, ‘the world’s most haunted island’ it blends fiction with fact and urban legend and has recently been released in audio too – very exciting!

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2017 looks set to be another busy year! Psychic Surveys Book Four: Old Cross Cottage is due to be released on April 25th, which is Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall‘s 3RD BIRTHDAY (it’s also my 50th but shhhh regarding that!!). Around September will be the second This Haunted World book, set in a hotel I visited in America last year in the state of Pennsylvania, very spooky indeed! And there’ll also be a Psychic Surveys Christmas novella, this time written from the point of view of Ness – a lady who hides some very dark secrets!

But before all that it’s Christmas! Have a wonderful and peaceful time wherever you are and thank you so much for reading this and again for all your support. Let’s hope 2017 is a better one for all of us, wherever we are in the world.

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Blakemort – It’s Live!

 

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Today’s the day! Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella – hits the shelves in Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Already it’s garnered great reviews from advance readers, being described as ‘powerful’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘downright scary’! What more could my little writer’s heart wish for?

So what’s it all about? Well, it’s the second of my Psychic Surveys Christmas novellas – both are standalone but feed into the main series. The first novella – Eve – focussed on Theo and Ness (two of Ruby’s colleagues in the main books) working on a case together before they’ve even met Ruby or joined Psychic Surveys. Blakemort focusses on Corinna, the youngest of the Psychic Surveys team and the five years she spent at Blakemort as a child – a house with a very disturbing history.

As with all my books, it’s inspired by true hauntings. In this case the very spooky Wymering Manor in Portsmouth, which I hope to visit soon for a personal tour. Sightings include a lady in a violet dress, a choir of nuns and the sound of children crying and phantom horses galloping away at night. But that’s Wymering Manor, at Blakemort it gets decidedly more sinister…

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Here’s the blurb for it and a few teasers to whet your appetite, plus the links for Blakemort and also for Eve, which is on sale on Amazon for 99p at the moment (ebook). For a Christmas treat with a difference, close the curtains, light the fire and get stuck in!

“That house, that damned house. Will it ever stop haunting me?”

After her parents’ divorce, five-year old Corinna Greer moves into Blakemort with her mother and brother. Set on the edge of the village of Whitesmith, the only thing attractive about it is the rent. A ‘sensitive’, Corinna is aware from the start that something is wrong with the house. Very wrong.

Christmas is coming but at Blakemort that’s not something to get excited about. A house that sits and broods, that calculates and considers, it’s then that it lashes out – the attacks endured over five years becoming worse. There are also the spirits, some willing residents, others not. Amongst them a boy, a beautiful, spiteful boy…

Who are they? What do they want? And is Corinna right when she suspects it’s not just the dead the house traps but the living too?

Amazon Links – Blakemort

UK http://tinyurl.com/jhj9lqc

UK http://tinyurl.com/z5o5d5l

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Amazon Links – Eve

UK http://tinyurl.com/hk9cmay

US http://tinyurl.com/ztx23x7

Find me on Social Media

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

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Jennifer Wilson and Kindred Spirits!

Having not utilised ye old blog for a while, I’ve got three interviews lined up – the first with the very lovely Jennifer C Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits – Tower of London, which is on sale this week on Amazon at 99p. Here she tells us all about the book, what inspired her to write it and her fascination with the aforementioned Tower.

Grab a cuppa, have a read and then go and then bag yourselves a bargain (the link is at the bottom of the article). Take it away, Jennifer…

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Hi, Shani, and happy Halloween! Those are definitely words I never thought I’d find myself saying… I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. I’ve never really liked the idea of ghosts. So, the notion of my debut novel being a ghost story (or a story about ghosts, at least), is, frankly, ridiculous. I’m such a wimp that I don’t even like watching Midsomer Murders in the dark…

But there you go. Having had the idea that if the ghosts of Richard III and Anne Boleyn were in the same place, they’d have a lot in common, it kept nagging away at me, especially thinking about where they would be. The Tower of London seemed the most logical choice, given that Anne was executed and buried there, and it’s where the Princes in the Tower also met their deaths, the two people who probably occupied Richard’s mind the most during his reign. I had been trying to write about Richard for so long, and decided to just go with it – easily the best decision I ever made!

TowerOfLondon.jpgAnd when you start looking into who could be hanging about the place, the research soon becomes quite addictive. I’ve had to stop reading about the Tower, because I just kept finding more and more people who could legitimately be haunting the place, and wishing I’d come across them two years ago. The ‘cast list’ I went for in the end wasn’t bad mind, and certainly not lacking in star quality. As the blurb says: A King, three Queens, and plenty of other nobles for them to spar with. And when two of those Queens are probably Henry’s two most famous, Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, there’s plenty of sparks to fly.

Having first visited the Tower on a bleak February morning, and first seeing it through a blizzard, the idea that spirits still inhabit the place didn’t need much imagination. Even during my next visit, in glorious Bank Holiday sunshine, there are plenty of nooks and crannies, still open to the public but off the more beaten track, where you can get a real sense of the Tower’s history, and its place in the story of Britain. Built so soon after the Conquest, there cannot be a monarch who hasn’t visited. If walls could talk, you would certainly need earplugs… I wouldn’t say I felt uneasy there, but some of the rooms, such as where prisoners had carved their names into walls (one even, according to tradition, surviving from George Boleyn, almost certainly, as with his sister and the other men, innocent of the crimes he was charged with) have a definite ‘atmosphere’, especially when you’re in there alone. For the bare rooms the prisoners would have been kept in, there isn’t much of a difference today, and certainly the lower rooms you can access still feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t have wanted to be left there.

Definitely enough to spark the imagination, and the idea did indeed keep me out of trouble during NaNoWriMo 2013.

For a limited time only, until the end of Halloween, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is just 99p/c. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?

About Jennifer

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Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifercwilsonwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkjunkie1984

Blog: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A

 

The World’s Most Haunted Island

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On the 9th August 2016, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian, was launched on Amazon. The first in a series of books based in and around the world’s most haunted places, the venue for the first, as it’s title suggests, is Venice – regarded as the ‘world’s most haunted city’. I first visited not long ago, in November 2015 and found this ancient, crumbling city haunting in more ways than one. At that time of year, the nights close in early and, for me, that’s when Venice comes alive, dark alleyway after dark alleyway lonely and eerie, drawing you in, always in, to the beating heart of the city. You could spend all weekend immersed in it’s haunting beauty, eschewing the more familiar sights of St Mark’s Square andimages.jpeg the Bridge of Sighs for ones such as C’à Dario or “The House of No Return” as locals call it because it is believed to eventually kill or ruin all of its owners. The murder chain starts back in the 15th century when the daughter of its first owner, Giovanni Dario, committed suicide in the house after her husband went bankrupt and their son was killed in a fight, and continues well into the 21st century. Just in case you like to play with fire, the house is currently up for sale!

And then there’s Poveglia. Ah, Poveglia, in the Venetian Lagoon.  What a chequered images.jpeghistory that has! It’s known as ‘the world’s most haunted island’ and I think it’s probably fair to say it is. The Venetian is not only set in Venice, it’s set on Poveglia too. Plague and disease were huge problems in the Medieval world, and Venice was no exception. When plague threatened to wipe out the city entirely, it was to Poveglia that the ill and the suffering were banished… never to return. In 1922, a mental asylum was built on the island and dubious practices reputed to have been carried out in otherwise splendid isolation. The asylum was shut down in 1968 and today Poveglia is home to nothing more than a collection of abandoned buildings surrounded by fields, known as plague pits – where the bones of the plague-ridden lie with those from the asylum. It’s forbidden to visit the island, but people do, after all, it’s just a short boat ride away from the mainland…

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The Venetian takes the dark side of Venice, including the history of Poveglia, to bring you a story that’s horrifying but in very human terms. Mixing fact with fiction, it was a fascinating story to write but I was also aware that it was real history I was dealing with and therefore people, those who had once lived and breathed, and so I had to tread carefully and with the greatest respect. Often the subject of Poveglia is dealt with in a gratuitous manner, but in this new series of books that’s something I don’t want to do. For me the story is horrifying enough, it really doesn’t need much, if any, embellishment.

Next week I’m off to New England, stopping over at Salem for three nights, home of the notorious 17th century Witch Trials. Again, I’ll be looking for a story – one that hasn’t been told before. One that should be told. The human side of horror. Watch this space.

Reviews so far for The Venetian:

“One of the most compulsive reads for a long time.” “Full of gripping suspense.” “An absolute masterpiece.” “Haunting and unbelievably atmospheric.” “A nerve tingling, nightmare inducing novel which skilfully twists and turns.”

If you’d like to read it, it’s available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and soon in all good book stores. Here’s the link:

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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Peter James, Brighton and the Paranormal!

It is with great pleasure that I have fellow Brighton author, Peter James, on my blog today, talking about his books (of course!) but more than that, the paranormal aspect to them. And yes, that does include reference to his incredibly popular Roy Grace books! Peter is the author of some of my favourite paranormal books, and also Alchemist, which is in my top ten. Here’s the questions I asked and how Peter replied…

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The very first Peter James book I read was Alchemist. A very powerful book, it changed the way I viewed not only the pharmaceutical industry but the way in which all big industries are run. It did what all good books should – it got me thinking. The second I read was Sweet Heart, a chiller of a tale that delves into aspects of the paranormal. What inspired you to write both books?

Thank you! For Alchemist – I’ve always been interested in conspiracy theories – the idea that there is a group of people who secretly control the world! I met the head of one of our biggest pharmaceutical companies who told me that his company were busy patenting human genes and that the ultimate power in the world will lie in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. For Sweet Heart – I became interested in of past life regression and underwent it myself as an experiment and it gave me the idea for this book.

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I read in a newspaper article that The House on Cold Hill, your most recent paranormal book, released in October 2015, was inspired by true life events – can you tell us more about this?

The House On Cold Hill is very much inspired by – and modelled on – an isolated historic house in Sussex that my former wife and I bought in 1989, and lived in for a decade – which turned out to be very seriously haunted. Whilst I have never actually seen a ghost, there were things that happened at that house I really couldn’t explain. I saw on many occasions, tiny pinpricks of white light floating in the air. A medium who I used a lot during my writing of Possession, visited my house and she told me I was slightly psychic, and that is why I saw these pinpricks, and that while I was not actually seeing the entire apparition, I was picking up on some of its energy.

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We both base our books in and around Brighton (our mutual hometown). How important is location to you and why?

For me there was only ever one location for Roy Grace to be based….my hometown of Brighton. To the outsider, Brighton is a hip, beautiful seaside city, but it has a long history of darkness – right back to its roots as a smugglers village! In Regency days it gained a reputation both as a fashionable bathing resort, but in 1841 when the London-Brighton railway line opened, criminals flooded down from London, finding rich pickings and a much nicer environment than their city! They brought cock-fighting, prostitution, pick-pockets, muggers, smugglers, burglars, and gangs. Simultaneously, with the railway enabling quick access from London, many wealthy Londoners brought their mistresses down here and it became known as a place for “dirty weekends”.

Three consecutive past Chief Constables of Sussex Police have all told me that Brighton is the favoured place in the UK for first division criminals to live in. The reasons are: Firstly it has a lot of escape routes, very important to all criminals: It has the Channel ports, Eurotunnel, and Gatwick Airport just 25 minutes away. London is only 50 minutes by train. It has a major seaport on either side – Shoreham and Newhaven, perfect for importing drugs and exporting stolen cars, antiques and cash. It has the largest number of antique shops in the UK – perfect for laundering stolen goods and cash. For many recent years it held the title the Tourist Board do not like me mentioning: “Injecting Drug Death Capital of England”! It has a wealthy young population combined with the largest gay community in the UK, providing a big market for recreational drugs. It has two universities, so a big drug-taking student community. A huge number of nightclubs and a large transient population. Very importantly it has not been over-written by other writers.

One of the characters in my books, Ness Patterson, a psychic, has worked with Brighton Police in the past to solve some rather heinous crimes. How open is Roy Grace, the main protagonist of your crime novels, to using the paranormal in this way? I ask because in the very early books I remember it was suggested.

A key aspect to Roy Grace’s character is his open-minded attitude to the paranormal. This is not just in his searching for his missing wife, Sandy, but his willingness to turn to the occult when desperate on a case. I have come to realize that being open-minded to absolutely everything is a key asset for an effective homicide detective. The use of mediums by police in the USA is far more openly commonplace than it is here – but I have met many UK police officers, at all levels from Chief Constables down, who are more than prepared to talk to any sensible medium who claims to have information. As one said to me: “If I am in a desperate situation and all else has failed, I would be derelict in my duties if I failed to listen to a medium who claimed to have information.”

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I’m sure we’re all intrigued – what’s a typical writing day like for Peter James? Do you tend to do all your research before you sit down to write a book or research as you go?

My whole writing day is back to front… It is from the time when I was writing novels whilst working full time in film and television as a screen writer and producer, so I had to make my “Me time” to write. My writing day starts at 6pm in the evening, when I mix a large vodka martini, with four olives, put on some music, light up a cigar and get into a zone. I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week. In terms of research – a lot I do before, but then as I progress I realise there is more I need to learn, and I’m an absolute stickler for research.

Who are your favourite authors in the paranormal genre?

Stephen King, M R James, Edgar Allan Poe.

The writing industry is a tough business and, in many ways, it is getting tougher. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The best possible advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read, read, read, and analyse, and write, write, write.  Writing is a craft, and any craft is improved with practice.  But most importantly is to read the most successful of the kind of works you would yourself like to write:  So if you want to be, for instance, a crime thriller writer, read the blockbusters of the past fifty years.  Analyse them, literally deconstruct them and try to figure out what made them so popular.  This is what I did when I started out.  I took the books I most admired, the ones I most wished I had written, and literally read them until I knew them inside out.

And (keeping fingers crossed!) do you plan to release any more books in the paranormal genre?

I had a great time writing The House On Cold Hill, and certainly plan to write more in this field. Possibly even a sequel!

Find Peter James on Social Media

My brand new YouTube channel: www.peterjames.com/YouTube

My website www.peterjames.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/peterjames.roygrace

Twitter: http://twitter.com/peterjamesuk

Instagram: https://instagram.com/peterjamesuk

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44 Gilmore Street… Dare You Enter?!

Gilmore multi.jpgToday’s the day! After writing it, having it beta read, re-writing it, sending it to the editor, tweaking it, then tweaking it again… and again… and again… it was time to call it a day and admit it’s as ready as it’ll ever be! Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is now available to buy from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble (links below)! Time to sit back and take a breather? If only! I’m having an online Facebook launch party to celebrate and would love it if you could join in. There’ll be plenty of prizes on offer, including a signed paperback copy of 44 Gilmore Street and five fantastic authors of the paranormal popping in at various stages to offer e-book prizes of their books.

The line up is (GMT times):

3.30pm – Sarah England (Father of Lies)
4.30pm – Rumer Haven (What the Clocks Know)
5.00pm – Rebecca Patrick-Howard (the Taryn’s Camera series)
5.30pm – John Bowen (Where the Dead Walk)
6.30 pm – Adrian Martin (The Helland Reckoning)

Here’s the link – click on it, press ‘going’ and you’re in!

Launch day is always a nerve-wracking time for authors, you wonder if people are going to enjoy your latest offering or not. This is my eighth book and I’m getting pretty good at telling myself that as long as it’s as good as you can make it at the time of producing it, then you’re on the right track. And to help me do that my thanks go to my team of beta readers (you know who you are, I tell you often enough!) and my editor, Jeff Gardiner, who is just such a pleasure to work with. And thank you Laurence Patterson at Crooked Cat also for being so patient with me when I’m STILL making edits at galley stage!

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44 Gilmore Street is the third of six books in the Psychic Surveys series (there will be spin-off novellas from the series too such as Eve) and from relatively light beginnings it’s getting darker! If you do read it, thank you, I hope you enjoy it. Now, what was I saying about taking a breather? Better get cracking on the next instalment…

Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street

UK http://tinyurl.com/jobnwoo US http://tinyurl.com/j6jvev5

Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me

UK http://tinyurl.com/n9q352z US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x

Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall

UK http://tinyurl.com/lak4ub2 US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78

Psychic Surveys Prequel: Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story

UK http://tinyurl.com/nmnajss US http://tinyurl.com/pe5f6db

 

 

Sleep With the Lights On!

It is with great pleasure that I have Sarah England on my blog today talking about her latest release, Tanners Dell, the sequel to Father of Lies. She is one of my favourite authors and a very nice lady too, despite her ability to write genuinely terrifying books. I’m a quarter of the way through Tanners Dell and yep, just as I did during the first one, I’ve already had a nightmare! But even so, her writing is both compelling and intelligent, Sarah England knows her stuff and there’s nothing gratuitous about it – that’s what’s scary – it could all be true… Rather than me blather on, grab a coffee and let Sarah tell you about the books and what inspires her, and, if you’re brave enough, go and buy the books from Amazon too – they’re available in e-book format and paperback.

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Sarah, I’ve read Father of Lies and found it supremely scary, so much so I had to save it for daylight hours only! Give us a bit of background to the novel and what prompted you to write it.

 Oh I’m so happy it scared you, Shani – in the nicest possible way, of course. ‘Father of Lies’ centres around an extremely disturbed and violent young woman – Ruby – who suffers from what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder (now Dissociative Identity Disorder). Because she hadn’t responded to any treatment after two years, and was actually getting worse, the psychiatrist decided to hypnotise her; and after that… well let’s just say he wished he hadn’t!

 The idea originally came after meeting a lady with this condition. I had a medical background and had also been a writer for many years, but once I heard her shocking story, I was inspired to write ‘Father of Lies’. In 90% of DID cases there has been some form of trauma or abuse in formative years, and the victim’s identity can become fragmented as a coping mechanism. It’s horrific in its own right. However, I also wanted to explore the fine line between madness and possession: what is real and what is not. I liked the idea of taking a scientific, somewhat atheistic point of view, coupled with that of a mediumistic clairvoyant. After that, well I guess I just got drawn to the dark side…

 And now there’s a sequel (yikes!) – what’s it called and is it darker than the first? How long have we got to brace ourselves before we can read it?

 Yes the sequel is launched on 29th May, although the kindle may well be available a few days earlier. It’s called ‘Tanners Dell’ and will also stand alone, but it’s probably best followed on from ‘Father of Lies’ so the reader has the full story. In my opinion ‘Tanners Dell’ is much scarier, because it delves into just what really went on in the creepy, desolate mining village Ruby hails from. I had some serious night terrors whilst writing it, and although I had to do some terrifying research first time round, this was in some ways worse because…oh no… you see you almost got me giving it all away…J

 How much research goes into your writing (and, considering the type of research you must do, how do you handle it?)

 A lot! I originally trained as a nurse and then worked as a medical rep specializing in psychiatry, so I had first hand experience of both working and visiting psychiatric units. In fact one of my first nursing assignments was at an old Victorian style asylum on the outskirts of Sheffield (now knocked down). In addition to that I spent a lot of time talking to the DID sufferer and understanding what she went through, plus her clairvoyance. And I read some factual books that would make your hair stand on end – I could only read one chapter at a time and only in daylight. After I’d read them I didn’t want them on my bookshelf so I gave them to a friend and she burned them! We’re talking demonology and exorcisms….

Do you ever scare yourself witless with your own writing?

 Yes. I get into the head of each and every character and live it. I search for the most horrifying true events and twist them into the story. I guess different things scare different people – for example monsters and vampires don’t frighten me at all – but possession and madness scare me half to death. One example – I used to mess about with tarot cards but one time I drew the same three cards every single time. I shuffled and cut, shuffled and cut for at least 2-3 minutes each time…yup, same three cards. And when I had a light, cool breeze on my face and the feeling of a hand brushing over my hair… something else happened to me too that I can’t ever forget but it’s quite shocking…anyway it was time to quit!

 What does the future hold writing wise – more horror?

 Well next is to package up some of the hundreds of short stories and serials I’ve written over the years (I was a magazine fiction writer for 10 years before starting horror novels). And then it will either be more occult horror or it may be a psychological horror/thriller, which I will start in September. I’m definitely staying on the dark side, anyway!

 Who are your favourite authors and why?

 I still love the classics – Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen…who are just breathtakingly brilliant authors, and when you think they wrote by hand! I also greatly admire Ian McEwen – his prose is stunning. My favourite storytellers range from Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) to Sarah Waters to Alison Weir. I enjoy historical fiction and anything gothic as long as the story races and the prose flows. I like to read the best and be inspired. In addition to this, I love the supernatural genre and a good ghost story is hard to beat, so your series is right up my street…44, Gilmore Street in fact!

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Buy Links:

Father of Lies:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015NCZYKU http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NCZYKU

Tanners Dell: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FYBQZAS and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FYBQZAS

Social Media Links:  

https://www.facebook.com/sarahenglandauthor
http://www.twitter@sarahengland16
http://www.sarahenglandauthor.blogspot.com
http://www.sarahengland.yolasite.com

Happy Birthday Highdown Hall!

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The 25th April – what a day! It’s not just MY birthday, it’s the day when Crooked Cat Publishing launched Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall onto an unsuspecting world! Yep, 2 years ago today, Highdown Hall was made available on Amazon to buy in both ebook and paperback format. Getting off to a good start, it climbed all the way into the top 2,000 books on Amazon and stayed there for the best part of a year, nestled beside the likes of Stephen King, James Herbert and Peter James -a dream come true! In 2015, it got to No,70 overall in the US Amazon Kindle charts and roughly the same in the UK Amazon Kindle charts and No.1 in several genre charts across the globe. It’s also acquired a prequel (Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story), Book Two (Rise to Me) and the soon-t0-be-published (May 27th) Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street. I envisage there’ll be six books in the series in total, but you never know, I might squeak in one or two more…

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Centred round a team of psychics and the cases they investigate, it’s been a pleasure working with Ruby, Cash, Theo, Ness, Corinna and Jed, the ghost dog (everybody’s favourite). I’ve based a lot of cases around real life events (those I’ve been involved with and those that have been told to me) and have included, where I can, the work of famous Occultists such as Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Alexandra David Neel (amongst others). A lot of research has gone into the books and I’ve surprised myself with all the things I’ve learnt – the mystical world is indeed a fascinating world!

I’ve had a ton of fantastic reviews – over 300 between the UK and US and most of them have been 5 and 4 star. There have, of course, been the odd 1 or 2 stars but hey, that’s par for the course – and some of them have made me smile, i.e. the one who said ‘she seems to make it up as she goes along’ – I love that, partly because it’s true! But it’s also been called the ‘best ghost story ever’ and many times ‘unputdownable’. To anyone who’s ever taken the time to review a huge thank you – it means (and helps) such a lot!

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If you haven’t read Highdown Hall yet, let me know in the comments below. I’ve got a few e-copies to GIVE AWAY. If you’ve got a Kindle, I can send it to your email address so you can send it to your Kindle. If you fancy it, you can also sign up to my occasional newsletter, where I’ll keep you informed of any new releases, competitions and giveaways. http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

Thank you again for all your support and congratulations again to Highdown Hall, who’d have known we’d have shared a birthday too!

The Haunting of Highdown Hall

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Contact Links

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Rumer Haven’s New Release!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Shani!
On moving to London several years ago, I immediately stumbled upon Brompton Cemetery, and it’s been my favorite spot ever since. One of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries established in the 19th century, Brompton stretches for nearly forty acres and is my urban oasis. Much like Margot, the protagonist of What the Clocks Know, I felt quite lost when I first relocated from the States. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself without one of my own for a while, and without family and friends around either, my life felt rather isolated and aimless during that initial stretch.But Brompton was one place where peace and reflection came easily, so I chose to send Margot there as well in this story. The cemetery both heals and heightens her anxieties and, either way, compels her to return time and again. She isn’t certain if what she’s experiencing is paranormal or psychological, though, and Brompton becomes a key place for finding the answers.

The following excerpt originated somewhere between journal pages and coffee shop napkins, which I scribbled on during my early visits to the cemetery. The gravestones, statues, flora, and even fauna all triggered random thoughts that eventually gelled into this scene and others. And, yes, there really is a Charlotte Pidgeon.

Excerpt:
Margot edged closer to a tomb that echoed loudly with buzzing insects; when she peered into its blackness, a cool, ancient scent wafted to her face. Continuing to idle along, she scanned the moss and vines that clung to and devoured the markers sprouting all throughout this garden of marble and granite, the Gothic juxtaposed with the Romanesque, Celtic crosses with Grecian urns.

Stopping at another grave, she saw Christmas décor rotting away by her feet. A depressing sight in summer, the winter wreath made her fancy how the cemetery’s atmosphere must change with the seasons. She wouldn’t be in London long enough to see it burn in rust and gold, the falling leaves mimicking the footfall of a pursuing stranger and the plucked trees revealing more of the sky and buildings beyond. Yet she could imagine how, on one chilled day that would paint the scene gray, someone would kneel again at a name of diminishing meaning to the present world and place another wreath of scarlet ribbon and silver baubles. Only for it to waste away during another sunny spring and rainy summer as the cycle continued: lather, rinse, repeat.

The effect of time would be noticeable enough, and somehow she felt she’d already seen it all before and would again, her grandest déjà-vu yet. To preserve its enchantment, she didn’t analyze the reasons why this site had come to matter so much. She felt whole here. That was all to know.
But her bladder waited for no man, living or dead. Picking up her pace, Margot hightailed it to the cemetery’s rear exit until a shiver clenched the muscles between her shoulder blades. Despite
her urgency to get back home, she slowed to a full stop in front of a gabled gravestone. An ornate sprig of acacia crowned an inscription she hadn’t seen yet.

READER, STAY.
UNDERNEATH THIS STONE DOTH LIE
AS MUCH BEAUTY AS COULD DIE;
WHICH IN LIFE DID HARBOR GIVE
TO MORE VIRTUE THAN DOTH LIVE.
IF AT ALL SHE HAD A FAULT,
LEAVE IT BURIED IN THIS VAULT.

Rather than grab her pen and napkin to write the poem down, Margot just stood there, rereading it. Contemplating it. If there was an afterlife, could people really leave their failings behind to putrefy in the dirt, safe from anyone’s memory? She liked to think so.

Her gaze rose to the name chiseled in the stone.

CHARLOTTE PIDGEON

It so happened that Charlotte Pidgeon was born on the same day as Margot, but her year of birth was 1848 and year of death 1874. Despite all the other gravestones she’d recorded onto her napkin, copying anything down from this one somehow seemed blasphemous. So she just kept standing, with gravity fastening her in place. Gawking, until a weight on her breastbone made it more difficult to breathe.

The sensation was strange, no question. Margot had never felt anything like it. But she’d taken enough psychology courses as an advertising major to peg it for what it was: a psychosomatic response. The conditions were ideal for something like that. For one, the general creepy-factor of standing above hundreds of corpses as black birds crowed their ‘Evermores’ left and right. And now this moving inscription that kicked in her sympathies.

There was otherwise no meaning in it – even if, go figure, the given name should be Charlotte. A decent coincidence to add to her diary, but it wasn’t surprising that such a popular Victorian name would find its way on an English grave or the spine of an English book. She must have seen a dozen Charlottes in that lot alone by now, along with all the Alices, Emmas, and Janes.

And so what if their birthdays were the same? The ratio of 365 days to the billions of people ever born on Earth was basically nil. She had to stop pandering to what the human brain did naturally: form correlations when it noted them. Only this and nothing more.

Exhausted with her overactive imagination and fantastically bored with herself, she didn’t want to stand there anymore. But she didn’t want to walk anywhere else either. Breathing heavily through her nose as a numbness dulled her, she didn’t want to be anywhere in that moment, not even in her own skin. The effort and futility of life bore down on her as she considered all the bodies underground, all those who’d borne the burden of existence and thought it mattered until they didn’t exist or matter anymore – just rotted in boxes under her feet.

She had to go back to Rand’s. She didn’t want to; she needed to. Not for the toilet any longer, but a bath sounded nice – something that could warm her against the nip of her fears, wash away the soil she felt falling over her. Drown the thuds each shovelful made on the lid of her inner casket. That sounded purposeful enough.

Forgive my intrusion, Miss Pidgeon. I will leave you to rest in peace.

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

 

Psychic Surveys: The Inspiration…

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You hear it so many times; the great horror movies of our time – Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror and Texas Chainsaw Massacre for example – are inspired by true events. So many times, in fact, you begin to take it with a pinch of salt, doubt it even. After all, these are ‘horrors’, hyped up for an audience who love nothing more than to be scared witless. But since becoming a paranormal writer myself, I give that claim more credence. Hyped up they may be but truth is always stranger than fiction.

a950ef28f5965f1463ffe2356bca771eThe Haunting of Highdown Hall has its roots firmly in truth. Not only with regard to the main case where movie star, Cynthia Hart, still resides within her hallowed four walls, despite having died in 1958, but in all the ‘mini’ cases scattered around it. Cynthia’s story is based on a tale I heard years ago. I can’t say who the movie star is but she was one of the cinematic greats. Some years after her death, her house was inherited by a friend of a friend, only for him to discover she was still very much ‘in’ it. As for her bedroom, still kept as a shrine to her – he couldn’t even enter it. It was as though invisible hands were pushing him out and he got the sensation of a voice ‘screaming’ at him. He called in a team of psychics and they dealt with it (or should I say ‘her’) and he lived there happily for many years afterwards. Hearing this story, I couldn’t help but wonder: what was holding her there, fear, despair or something darker, much darker? Transfer that story to fiction and that’s what the Psychic Surveys team have to find out.

The ‘mini’ cases too are drawn from real life, for example, the little boy that ‘haunts’ his bedroom, taking an active dislike to the new child that has moved in there and the tormented young man in Paul Ashworth’s flat that is hell bent on driving him out. Both were based on psychic cleansings I took part in (I rung the bells in dark corners to break down negative energy!). Although the owners were terrified, when you find out the history of the spirit, when you can ‘communicate’ with them, you realise that tormented is exactly what they are and often just need some understanding, validation even and gentle encouragement to ‘move on’. Happily, both cleansings were successful and the owners reported no more paranormal activity occurring afterwards.

Aside from the cases, the ‘business’ of Psychic Surveys is rooted in truth. Imagine if you didn’t have to hunt around for this service, if domestic spiritual clearance was widely available – we’re talking high a street presence here, alongside estate agents, solicitors and travel agents. An idea considered in reality, we decided the business was better off in fiction – the aim of it to put the normal into paranormal, to remove the taboo. Young psychic, Ruby Davis, heads up the team and, suffice to say, business is booming!

The Haunting of Highdown Hall is available on Amazon and all good bookshops. It’s sequel, Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me is also available. Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is due out in early 2016. All published by Crooked Cat Publishing. The Prequel to the Psychic Surveys series – Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story is also available.

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