It's a very special Thursday!
Shani Struthers, a Crooked Cat author friend, has popped in for a fantastic interview even though it's a very special day for her. Rise to Me, Book 2 of Shani's Psychic Surveys Series launches today, 19th March!
If you haven't yet met Shani, settle in and be my guest. I've read the Haunting of Highdown Hall, Book 1 of her Psychic Surveys, and thoroughly enjoyed how Shani included psychic aspects along with very believable operatives in her story. Today, I'm looking forward to learning more about her other writing. So...let's get started...
Please lead in by telling us where you’re from and where you live now.
Hi, Nancy, I was born in Brighton and still live here – it’s a great town (actually it’s now a city), cosmopolitan in nature, fun and ever changing. ‘When a man tires of London, he is tired of life’ Samuel Pepys said, the same is true of Brighton!
You’ve been involved in the writing process for many years in various guises. Can you please give us a snapshot of your writing involvement and publishing history?
I’ve been a copywriter for twenty years, working mainly in the travel industry. Three years ago I decided to give novel writing a bash – I sat down and wrote a romance, The Runaway Year. Having finished the manuscript, I sought professional advice on it, re-wrote it, submitted it and got several publishing offers. I decided on the very lovely Omnific Publishing (an American publisher with a great track record) and then promptly sat down and wrote a paranormal mystery – which was submitted to and accepted by Crooked Cat Publishing. I have written and had published the sequel to The Runaway Year (The Runaway Ex) but am now going to concentrate on the paranormal as that’s where my heart really lies.
How many novels have you currently available for sale?
As from today, I’ve got 5 novels available for sale! The Runaway Year, The Runaway Ex, a stand-alone paranormal mystery/romance set in the Highlands of Scotland, called Jessamine, and Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me. It’s Psychic Surveys Book Two that’s been published today.
Congratulations on today's release making it a nice round five!
You work with 2 different publishers - how did you come to submit to them?
Omnific Publishing have had some great hits with their authors and so I was pleased to join their ranks. They are strictly a romance only publisher and based in Los Angeles. Crooked Cat came to my attention as I have read a fair few of their books and got to know some of their authors – they seemed young, fresh and innovative and they publish across a wide range of genres. I submitted Highdown Hall to them and was delighted when they accepted it. Crooked Cat are UK based – it’s certainly interesting working with both camps.
Having had a short foray with a US romance only publisher I can say the same, Shani. Sorting out the TAX form was the most difficult part for me!
Did your copywriting experience help you when you came to write your own novels?
Yes, I think so. I’ve developed a good grasp of the English language, I know that you have to de-fluff copy because every word counts and as my copywriting is largely creative, it’s developed that creative gene- hopefully!
Are the locations of your novels chosen for special reasons?
The Runaways are based in North Cornwall, one of my favourite places on Earth. I go there regularly and knew that if I were going to write a romance, this would be its location. It’s got great beaches, rugged countryside, beautiful villages and lots of atmosphere, the perfect backdrop to any self-respecting book I think! Jessamine is set in the Highlands of Scotland, in a place I visited a few years ago – Glenelg (although I’ve called it Glenelk in the book as I have taken fictional liberties with it!). It’s an incredibly spiritual place, moody and atmospheric, just right for that particularly story. The Psychic Surveys books I’ve kept local to my hometown – all the action takes place in Brighton, Lewes, Hastings and the countryside in-between. Sussex is great, it’s also fairly spooky – again a perfect literary backdrop.
Who is your favourite hero from your already published work?
I fall in love with all my characters but Ruby Davis, the psychic from the Psychic Surveys Team is a great character to work with, strong, loyal and brave, all great qualities in a person. If I have to pick one of the men, it would be Finn from Jessamine. He’s as broody as the countryside he grew up in. He reminds me of a Bronte character, a sentiment that’s shared by quite a few of the readers too!
Do you purposely add strong secondary characters to a work in progress so that the possibility is there for a spin off book, or a subsequent book in a series?
Absolutely. In Jessamine, the main characters are Jessamin and Finn but the two secondary characters Stan and Maggie have captured the imagination of readers just as much. The Runaways are told from three points of view – three feisty females – and the cast that supports them are just as strong too. In Psychic Surveys, Ruby Davis is the main character, but she works with a great team, Cash, Theo, Ness and Jed, the ghost dog, who has proved very popular! I’m actually going to do a spin-off Psychic Surveys series too, revolving around Theo and Ness, the two older characters. They are both fascinating in their own right and the spin-offs, which will be novellas in length, will focus on one single case whereas the main books have a main case plus several minor ones.
How much research do you tend to need to do before your write a novel?
I tend to write what I know about, especially regarding the locations. Other than that I tend to research as I go, the Internet makes it so easy to find out the answers to the most obscure questions!
What are you currently working on right now?
I’m currently working on the Psychic Surveys spin-off novella, Eve. As it’s a Christmas ghost story, I’m hopefully set for a September/October release on that. I’m getting started on Psychic Surveys Book Three, I’ve got a couple of ideas for it and will run with both and see which takes off. After that, I fancy writing another stand alone book, creating some fresh characters and seeing where they lead me!
Can you share with us how you cope with the promotional side of being a published author?
I don’t do that much to be honest, I utilise Facebook a lot because it’s a medium I like. I’m also on Twitter quite a bit. I blog every now and then too regarding book reviews, topics that interest me and highlighting fellow authors. I think writing more books is the best form of self-promotion, building up an audience slowly but surely. You have to remember it’s a marathon you’re entering, not a sprint – it’s okay to build things up over time I think and not go too mad initially with promo.
You manage to get a lot of reviews for your work. Can you share your secrets on how you do this with my readers?
I have a trusty band of beta readers who read all my books through the various stages – they usually kick-start the reviews. After that, it’s down to the general public. I’ve got nearly 200 for Highdown Hall between the UK and the US and I think that that is because it’s sold well – ie the more people who buy your book, the more likely they are to leave reviews. I have to say it’s not easy getting reviews, not really and I don’t like asking for them. People often email or private message me on Facebook saying they’ve enjoyed one of the books I’ve written but they don’t always leave an Amazon review. I know I should ask them but I just can’t bring myself to do it! Again, usually they’re something that happens over time.
Mmm...I think I must get myself some beta readers from the sound of that advice- though I'm sure there are other factors at work, Shani. *wink, wink* - like managing to have good initial sales and the best 'search' placing on Amazon.
Tell us 5 quirky fun things about you that wouldn’t appear in any bio.
I write about psychics and I’ve had a few psychic experiences myself – including seeing the face of my youngest daughter a few months before she was even conceived! I do believe that everyone is psychic to a degree though, it’s just most of us choose not to be.
I used to be a punk in my misspent youth, then I became a New Romantic before finally settling on being a Goth. In my heart I’m forever a Goth!
Despite having held a tarantula after completing a hypnosis course, I have a terrible fear of spiders – my heart literally stops beating at the sight of one!
I can’t sleep without an eye mask – yep, I like the darkness.
Rise To Me
The Haunting of Highdown Hall
The Runaway Year
The Runaway Ex
Find Shani Struthers at these places:
More about Shani
Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name - Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it's Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni - although she does indeed know a Shanni - just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing - so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. She is the author of contemporary Cornish romance - The Runaway Year and its sequel The Runaway Ex. Writing also in the paranormal genre, books include the best-selling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me. Jessamine is a stand-alone paranormal novel, set in the mysterious Highlands of Scotland.
Thank you for popping in today, Shani. Wishing you the best for the launch of Rise To Me.
Thank you for popping in today, Shani. Wishing you the best for the launch of Rise To Me.
ps It's also my grandson's first birthday - yay! I'm off to do a lot of celebrating.