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…







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:







Welcome to the Asylum…


It’s here – launched today on Amazon worldwide in ebook format and paperback –  The Venetian. It’s the first in my new This Haunted World paranormal series – a set of books not connected by characters but by places in our big wide world that are considered haunted. Each book will be a standalone and seeks to mix fiction with fact – or at the very least the myth and legend that haunted places tend to be shrouded in. Like all my books, I try to find the ‘human’ story behind the ghosts, what they’ve suffered, why they’re still grounded, and why some of them seem hell bent on revenge and destruction. They’re not ‘horrors’ but sometimes, and inevitably, the boundaries blur.

Set between ‘the world’s most haunted city’ and Poveglia, ‘the world’s most haunted island’, dare you encounter another side to Venice – the dark side – crossing still waters to an island where madness once reigned?

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Here’s the blurb:

‘Welcome to the asylum…’


Their troubled past behind them, married couple, Rob and Louise, visit Venice for the first time together, looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Not just a romantic destination, it’s also the ‘most haunted city in the world’ and soon, Louise finds herself the focus of an entity she can’t quite get to grips with – a ‘veiled lady’ who stalks her.


After marrying young Venetian doctor, Enrico Sanuto, Charlotte moves from England to Venice, full of hope for the future. Home though is not in the city; it’s on Poveglia, in the Venetian lagoon, where she is set to work in an asylum, tending to those that society shuns. As the true horror of her surroundings reveals itself, hope turns to dust.

From the labyrinthine alleys of Venice to the twisting, turning corridors of Poveglia, their fates intertwine. Vengeance only waits for so long…

To celebrate there’s an online Facebook launch party between 10am – 6pm today, with plenty of giveaways from me and other authors, so head on over and join in the fun. Meanwhile, if you fancy a read, here’s the links. I hope you enjoy it!




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.

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.


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.


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 –
Facebook –
Twitter – @RumerHaven


Something for the Weekend with Tim and Kimm!

It’s lovely to have fellow Crooked Cat authors, Kimm Walker and Tim Taylor on my blog today, telling us about how they met, and talking candidly about the process of writing and making a sale. Here we go…

twitter picture.jpgTim and I are both Crooked Cat authors and met at Holmfirth Writers’ Group many years ago. We thought it might be interesting to do a head-to-head interview, as a change.

Tim: We’ve missed you recently from the writers’ group. I hope you’ve been able to work through the writer’s block you were suffering a while back?

Kimm: It’s true, I’ve turned away from “Writing” and given up some of the groups I used to regularly attend. Having poured whole years heart and mind into writing two books, Once Removed and A Life Less Lost, I was disappointed they didn’t go out and sell themselves, as per my romantic fantasy. Self-doubt is hard to overcome.

But as anyone who writes knows, banner.png“Writing” doesn’t care if you turn your back – it won’t let you go. So perhaps not novels, although that is the form I love to read and am most at ease with, I still play with poems, write articles and am wondering about trying my hand at stories for my grandchildren.

For Christmas I was given a week’s writing retreat in Italy with Sue Moorcroft so we’ll see what time has to say.


Sounds fantastic! I hope it does the trick for you, Kimm.

Kimm: Speaking of the difficulties of book promotion, you ran a sale throughout December. Can you tell if it’s made a difference? What have you found is the best way to make your brilliant books known to possible readers?

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Tim: My sales did seem to pick up a bit in December, though it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the reduced price and how much to the effort I put in to promote it. I think that of all the methods I’ve tried, live readings have perhaps had the most direct impact, and can be quite rewarding – though of course, there is a limit to how many people you can reach that way. I have the feeling that social media is getting a bit saturated with books and it’s becoming harder to get them noticed (though I still use it, of course!)

Kimm: I certainly agree about the live talks/readings. I did a lot of that with my memoir, A Life Less Lost. People bought a copy for themselves then came back to me and bought more for family and friends. One person actually bought 7 copies! But I seemed to run out of venues after a while.

Tim: As well as Holmfirth Writers’ Group, we also both attend the monthly Poetry Day at Huddersfield University. How do you see the relationship between fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as someone who has written all three?

Kimm: These three forms of writing have one vital thing in common – audience. True, the audience may have different expectations for each form but all three forms must keep their readers engaged.

My love of fiction and learning the craft of writing prose, I believe, helped me make my memoir more compelling. The exacting nature of poetry – distilling emotions into tight word pictures, creating metaphor and similies – provides skills that can also add depth and colour to fiction and non-fiction. And taking real life experiences into your prose and poetry gives them both authenticity and a voice that speaks to others.

Tim: Nicely put – and I’m sure you’re right.

Kimm: You also write beautiful poetry, have serious published non-fiction work and two fascinating historical fiction novels out. Do you think your day job helped you get inside the skin of the people you write so well?

Revolution Day.jpgTim: I guess my experience of government as a civil servant for 26 years informed certain details of my novel Revolution Day (about an ageing Latin American dictator whose Vice-President is plotting against him): the long tedious formal meetings, the horse trading that goes on in negotiations, etc. Less so the characters themselves, for the most part, with the partial exception of Felipe, the private secretary of dictator Carlos Almanzor, who reflects my observations of real private secretaries to government ministers and the like (though I’ve never done that job).

My first novel, Zeus of Ithome, was set in ancient Greece, so I was much more reliant on imagination and what I could glean from the sources, rather than personal experience. Though I think our experiences always ultimately feed into what we write, though often in an indirect way.

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Kimm: Absolutely! We absorb our understanding of human behaviour and relationships from our own experience, which then feeds our imagination.

Tim: It’s been good to chat with you again, Kimm. And many thanks to Shani for hosting us both!

It’s been a pleasure, here are the buy links for Kimm’s books – I’ve read Once Removed and can highly recommend it. Get clicking folks!

Buy and Stalk Links for Kimm:

Buy and Stalk Links for Tim:





The Paranormal Continues with… Elizabeth Meyette!

My New Profile PicI’m thrilled to have fellow paranormal author, Elizabeth Meyette, on my blog today. Hailing from the USA, she’s the author of bestselling, The Cavanaugh House. Here she tells us all about herself and what inspired her to write it. Take it away, Elizabeth…

Thank you for inviting me to your lovely blog, Shani. As a child I used to devour Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books, loving the mysterious stories and the brilliance of the girl detectives. Then I graduated to Agatha Christie with her unique sleuths, and I knew I wanted to write a mystery someday. A career as an English and journalism teacher interrupted my plans though, so I retired early to pursue writing full time. My friend says I’m not retired, I’m “refired” and I have to agree. I’m living the dream. My husband Rich and our children are very supportive. We live in Michigan, U.S. surrounded by the beautiful Great Lakes. Rich and I have an agreement that I don’t cook on writing days because I do things like forget to put water in the pan to steam the broccoli or neglect the chicken in the oven. Fortunately, Rich is a wonderful cook!

The Cavanaugh House‘Refired’ I love it! The Cavanaugh House is a US best-selling paranormal mystery – tell us what inspired you to write it.

It was a whisper. As I was driving through a particularly busy stretch of highway in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada a sentence floated into my brain: “This house held secrets…” On and on the sentences came and there was nothing I could do about it since I was driving and Rich was sleeping. As soon as I was able I wrote down the words that my muse, Boris, had fed me. Along with the words came the image of a house and memories of legend and tragedy from my childhood. The legend was of the White Lady who haunted a park in my hometown, Rochester, NY. The tragedy was a suicide discovered by a young boy in my neighbourhood who looked across the street one night and saw, through an attic window, a body hanging from the ceiling. The attic window was actually two small windows close together and every time I passed that house, those windows were like a magnet drawing my eyes. I knew the White Lady and a house with those windows would play significant roles in my book. I had a very clear picture of what the house would look like.

While we were visiting my family in Rochester, we drove to the gorgeous Finger Lakes area in the middle of the state. Rich suggested I set my book there and I loved that idea as I’d spent time in that region as a child. As we drove along, we passed the house. That’s right—the house I had imagined in my head with the exact windows was right there on the side of the road, abandoned and forlorn. We stopped and Rich took all kinds of pictures, one of which became my cover for The Cavanaugh House. I knew I had to write this book.

Art imitating life, that happens to me too, in the most scary of ways sometimes. What other books have you had published – are they paranormal also?

I’ve published two historical romances set during the American Revolution: Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit. Now, I always taught my writing students to “know your audience,” so these books might not be very popular in England LOL. Emily Wentworth, an English girl becomes the ward of Jonathon Brentwood, an American Patriot because of a provision in her father’s will. Emily thinks Jonathon will be “older and not as robust” as her father; Jonathon thinks “Little Em,” as George called her, will be about ten-years-old. When they meet, both are surprised and sparks fly. These two books are not paranormal, but they are rated sensuous on Amazon so they might make a reader’s heart beat faster.








They sound great – and personally, I love American history. How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or sit down, type the first sentence and then fly by the seat of your pants all the way?

I am a complete pantser. I sit down and begin to write and let the characters (and Boris) take me where they will. I have an idea about the general direction of the story, but I am often surprised where I end up. Each day I read aloud whatever I wrote the previous day, and sometimes it’s like I’m seeing it for the first time. My characters often dictate what will happen, and if I don’t comply, they don’t speak to me anymore. Sometimes there will be a knock on the door, and I won’t know who it us until my character answers it and sees for her/himself. It’s quite exciting.

Elizabeth, you are I are fellow pantsers too! What are your future writing plans and any new releases on the horizon?

I am currently working on a sequel to The Cavanaugh House as yet untitled. My readers are requesting more about these characters. After that I will write the third book in my Love’s Destiny series. I’m also working on three children’s books that I hope to pitch to agents/publishers soon.

What’s the best bit about being an author? (And go on, what’s the worst?)

The best is the excitement and energy I feel as a new story begins to be revealed to me. I love hearing my characters speak, watching what they do, and being constantly surprised by them. Plus, I get to work in my pajamas and drink tea whenever I wish.

The worst part is when I’m stuck and my writing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s dispiriting and can make me wonder why I pursue this craziness.

The best outweighs the worst. ☺

Any tips for writers just starting out?

HOKBIS. Hands on Keyboard, Butt in Seat. Write, write, write. Even if you never show it to anyone—write. I read a quote somewhere to the effect: “People who write sit down at the desk. Writers stay in the room.” That’s a paraphrase, and Stephen King or Ron Carlson might have said it. But it’s true. You must “stay in the room”.

Finally, you’ve been stranded on a desert island, what five things would you take to get you by until help arrives? (Assuming help arrives that is!)

1. Rich, of course!
2. A good paranormal mystery
3. Plenty of chocolate
4. Tea
5. A Deck of cards

What a delight to be on your blog today, Shani. Thank you so much for inviting me.

It’s been great to have you! To find out more about Elizabeth, here are the links:




Twitter: @efmeyette

Elizabeth’s books are available at:


Barnes & Noble:



The 10 Question Blog Hop – Alexandra Martin

Hello again folks! The lovely Alexandra Martin joins me today with her answers to the 10 Question Blog Hop! If you love Downton Abbey and The Village, her book Daffodils should appeal. Being fond of a ghost story too, I can’t wait to read The Rose Trail when it comes out later this year. Over to you Alexandra …

1. What is the working title of your book or project?

 I’ve got two books ‘out there’ at present.  The latest one is called Daffodils and it’s set in Edwardian England just as World War One broke out.  My first book is called The Twisted Vine and is based on my own experiences as a grape-picker during the French wine harvest back in the 1980s. My next one is already started and is called The Rose Trail, a ghost story set against the back drop of the English Civil War.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book or project?

I’ll tell you about Daffodils, my latest release. This was a slow burn! I lived in a village in Wiltshire and borrowed its geography for the book. There was an old guy, called Harry, who lived in skid row – the terrace of tiny cottages we lived in – next to us.  He had a wooden leg from an old injury working on the railways.  Harry was nearly 100 years old and a great talker.  He told me about how taps finally arrived in the cottages in the not too distant past. Initially there was only a pump on the village green, then standpipes at the end of the row of cottages, then a tap to be shared between two back doors and then, finally in the sixties, each cottage got a sink with its own tap!  I was captivated by this and the germ of an idea was born.  We caught the end of an era when we lived there in the 1980s and it was where our children were born.  I wanted to capture the era I could see would pass with Harry, who still rented his cottage from the local landowners, in a feudal, timeless way.

3. What genre does it fall under if any?

Historical fiction with a bit of romance, and some military background from the battlefields of WW1. It could also be seen as a bit feminist!

4. If applicable, who would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

I always find this a hard question!  Katy could be portrayed very well by Keira Knightly; Jem by James McIvoy and Lionel by Christian Bale.  I must remember to give them all a ring. I know they are waiting to hear from me!!!

5.   What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

Showing the impact of the First World War on everyday people living ordinary country lives and how it shook up society values on class, gender and other values forever.

6. Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published on as an ebook and paperback and also on as a paperback.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Would you believe ten whole years?

8. What other book or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?

Birdsong covers similar ground and left a big impression on me but only after I’d finished Daffodils.  I was pretty annoyed that Downton Abbey also covered this era and stole my thunder and now The Village is doing the same.  Downton is a bit lightweight and The Village is too miserable. I hope Daffodils strikes the right balance.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book or story?

Old Harry, cited above but also when I started to write about his era and read the research I was so moved by the sacrifice and courage of that generation, particularly the women (and you don’t hear of them so often), that I felt compelled to tell their story, in the best way I could.

10. What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?

Anyone who loves history and learning how people managed country life before electricity, cars and information technology should be interested in the detail shown of Edwardian life.  Also I did a lot of research on the conditions of the soldiers in the British Expeditionary Force, and the way they were treated really shocked me.  And any woman who wants to know how we evolved from being drudges and became independent people in our own right will find Katy’s journey in to the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps fascinating.  I did when I researched it and had no idea how involved and resourceful these women were.


This is a link to my blog where I post about my writing experiences and works in progress.  Reviews are also posted here. And blog posts from other lovely authors too!

Blog Pics


Daffodils follows the varying fortunes of three people through the turbulent time of the First World War, as Edwardian England’s rigid class structures crumble under its weight. Katy is frustrated as a domestic servant and longs to escape. Jem loves Katy but cannot have her. Lionel, fresh …

 Blog Pic 2

The Twisted Vine

Every journey is an adventure. Especially one into the unknown. The shocking discovery of her lover with someone else propels Roxanne into escaping to France, and seeking work as a grape-picker. She’s never been abroad before and certainly never travelled alone. Opportunistic loner, Armand, explo…


The Next Authors with exciting books to tell you about are:

Malika Gandhi who has written 3 books and published them on amazon:

Rakesh’s Story, Freedom of the Monsoon and Where The Secret Lies.

Prue Batten who is the author of the Gisborne Saga and many other best selling books.