Coming back to haunt us …

Today I welcome back  fellow Crooked Cat author Shani Struthers, on the eve of her next book launch. 

Hello again, Shani!  Your latest book, Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street is coming out tomorrow. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

All the Psychic Surveys books deal with a particular theme and in Book Three it’s reincarnation. Ruby meets Elisha Grey, who is tuning into a past life that’s frightening her. Ruby isn’t keen to get involved because she is so busy and doesn’t see the need to diversify – reincarnation is not her specialist field. Also, there’s the on-going case of 44 Gilmore Street to deal with – the spirit causing trouble there is very territorial and growing increasingly violent, able to interact physically on occasions. The case is drawing public attention – negative public attention – adding to the strain. Elisha, however, is adamant that Ruby helps her…


On your last visit you talked about Eve: A Christmas Ghost Story. Am I right in thinking there’s a link between the two books?

Eve is the prequel novella to the Psychic Surveys series and features two of the main characters ten years before they’ve met Ruby Davis (who runs Psychic Surveys) and a case they’re working on in the market town of Thorpe Morton. You get to meet Theo and Ness in more depth and realise how Psychic Surveys – the high street consultancy specialising in domestic spiritual clearance – came about. Fast forward in time and you have Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall. There will be six books in the main series and perhaps another novella spin off featuring another character from the book, Corinna.

Are you working on another book?

Always! In-between the Psychic Surveys series, I’m working on the first book in a new series: This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian. It’s a series of books not linked by characters but by locations – they’re all going to be set in and around the world’s most haunted places! First up in The Venetian is Venice and the nearby island of Poveglia in the Venetian Lagoon – the former is the ‘world’s most haunted city’ and the latter, ‘the world’s most haunted island.’ The books will mix fact with fiction and I’m really excited to write them. The Venetian has been read by several beta readers already and received great feedback – I’m planning on a late summer release for that.

Sounds intriguing – I love Venice!  Finally, would you like to leave us with a taster from the book?

44 Gilmore Street Excerpt

Come on, Ben, where are you?

Was he hiding? Was that it? Despite his defiance the other day, had they cowed him? If so, he might be more amenable to moving on. And if he were the show would be over. The fuss would die down. Unlike the Enfield case, which went on for months and months, this would be a paltry one-day affair as far as the public were concerned – nothing in comparison, disappointing – certainly not the stuff of books, films and drama. She found herself fervently hoping. Please, please, let it be that easy. What joy if it was! She’d grab Cash, Corinna too, maybe even cajole Theo and Ness into it too, head to the pub and celebrate – buy the first round, the second, even the third. Damn it, she’d buy the entire pub a drink she’d be that relieved.

“Ben,” she called again. “You need to go to the light. Leave the Gordon family in peace and find peace yourself. And you will find it, Ben, because that’s what there is on the other side, peace. You’re holding on to such negative emotions, but you don’t have to, you can let them go. There’s no judgement in the light either if you’re worried about that – you’ll be welcomed because that’s where you belong. Go, Ben, go now.”

The atmosphere was as still as a millpond. No creaking of cupboards warning of an attack to come, no mugs hovering threateningly in mid-air, no kettle boiling. Ruby could feel hope radiate from her centre outwards.

“Has it worked?” Corinna whispered. “Has he gone?”

“I don’t know, I can’t sense him,” replied Ruby. And she couldn’t, it was as if the room was indeed empty. She dared to let hope envelop her.

“He has, he’s gone­–”

“Wait!” The command had come from Ness. Ruby turned to look at her. “Something’s wrong.”

“But the kitchen’s empty,” began Ruby but Theo interrupted.

“It’s not the kitchen you’re referring to is it?”

From behind them they heard a scream.

“What the hell–” Ruby swung fully round.

It was Samantha.

Cash was already moving forward and the others followed at his heel. The door to the living room was closed – had Samantha done that? Ruby remembered leaving it open. Cash tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge.

Another scream pierced the air. It wouldn’t be only them who heard it; the reporters were sure to as well.

“Cash, open the damn door.”

“Erm… hello… that’s what I’m trying to do here.”

And he was, she couldn’t deny it. He was throwing the full weight of his body against the painted wood and still it wouldn’t budge.

“Is there a lock or something?” Ruby said, her eyes lowering to the handle.

“It’s Ben that’s stopping us,” Ness explained. “He can’t keep it up though, the door will weaken soon. Keep trying, Cash.”

Cash did as he was told.


The word was whispered in Ruby’s ear.

Fucking stupid bitch!

It was much louder this time. She whipped her head from side to side.

“Where are you, Ben? Where the hell are you?”

“Right now, he’s everywhere,” Theo answered. “His presence is filling this house. Visualise white light and remember, Ruby, words can’t hurt you.”

No, but implements could and Samantha was in the living room with a ton of them, including the knives. There came a cry from within.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Shani.  Nice to talk to you again, and good luck with 44 Gilmore Street.


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Psychic Surveys Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street




A taster of my work in progress

My post last weekend, in which I owned up to writing a new novel, seemed to attract some interest. So although it’s still early days, I thought I’d share a little excerpt from what I’ve written so far. Claire (the narrator) and her father are in a hotel in the seaside resort of Llandudno, having scattered her mother’s ashes on the Great Orme (a headland outside the town) ….

The evening meal at the hotel was traditional English (should that be Welsh?) fare – prawn cocktail, leg of lamb with two veg, and treacle pudding to finish off. Not really my thing, to be honest. I was still quite full from lunch, so I left most of the vegetables and no more than pecked at the pudding, but it seemed to do the trick for Dad. “Not bad at all,” he said, wiping his lips with a napkin. Quite an accolade, coming from him. There was a little bar in the corner of the communal sitting room, which had a view looking back towards the Great Orme, its cliffs now tinged pink by the setting sun. He readily agreed to my suggestion of a nightcap and we settled ourselves in a pair of armchairs facing the window.

Pretty soon, we had the place to ourselves. We sat in reflective silence for a little while, but after a few sups of his Guinness, Dad turned to me and spoke.

“I’m glad we came here. You see, it was always the place where she was happiest, even though we never lived there. Not just when you were little: we came here when we were courting, more years ago than I would care to remember.

“I would pick her up from work on the back of the motorbike, and we be off down the country lanes – there weren’t any motorways in them days. There wasn’t a speed limit either, so we’d go off like the clappers, dodging tractors and people on horses, but you know, in all the times we went there, we never had a crash and she never fell off once.

“If it was summer you could get there while it was still light, but sometimes I had to stare down at the road because we were driving straight at the sun. But I loved it when we came over that hill, and you could see the sea for the first time, and you went onto the long straight road along the coast that meant you were nearly there. And you could tell you were in Wales because of all the funny names of the places: Abergele, Llandulas, Colwyn Bay. And when we first saw the sign for Llandudno we always cheered and she would wave her arms in the air and almost fall off the bike. It was supposed to be ‘Thlan-did-no’, and sometimes people would give you black looks for saying it wrong, but to us it was always ‘Lan-dud-no’, and let them think what they wanted.

“As we slowed down coming into town you could hear the seagulls. No matter what time of day it was, you could always see people walking about, taking the sea air – you could sometimes smell the salt in the air blowing off the water. We’d take the long straight road over to the West Shore – slow and stately, like we were the king and queen – then we’d roll into the Snowdon View Guest House and say hello to Mr and Mrs Morgan and drop off our bags. We were always too late for dinner, but they’d make us a sandwich, and if there was still a bit of light left, we’d get back on the bike and go along that winding road around the Great Orme and up to the top. There was a seat where we could sit and eat our sandwiches and watch the sun go down over the mountains. And when we were done canoodling, she would sometimes say ‘it’s the best place in the world, this. When I’m gone, don’t stick me in a hole, scatter me over this hill and I’ll be happy.’

“I feel better now we’ve done that for her. The worst thing about how she went was that I never really got to say goodbye. Now I feel I’ve done that, as best I can.”

He paused for a few seconds.

“I’d like to come back now and again to pay my respects to her, like. Maybe I’ll bring her a bottle of wine and empty it out on the grass for her. She never was much of a one for flowers.”

“Of course, Dad. We can come back here whenever you like. All you have to do is ask.”

His expression changed.

“And when it’s … you know, my turn to go. I’d like to be brought back here and scattered up there …” he pointed at the Great Orme “… in the same place, so’s the two of us can be together again, after a fashion. Better scatter me neatly, though, or she’ll make a fuss. And if you’re bringing wine for her, a couple of bottles of this stuff wouldn’t go amiss an’all.” He took another sip of his pint, and winked at me.


[ photo: (c) David Dixon 2010. From ]

It’s time to come clean …

The time has come when I have to come out of the closet and start being open about something I’ve been keeping very close to my chest. Yes, that’s it, I’m writing another novel! I’ve passed the 10,000 word mark now, so I guess I have reached the point where I can own up to writing it without it turning out to be a false start.

It’s been a long time coming. I’m not one of those lucky people who can write a novel in a month at a pinch, and comfortably turn out three or four a year. After Revolution Day I spent many months agonising about what novel to write next. For a long time, the plan was to write a sequel to Zeus of Ithome, following its central character, Diocles, through further adventures, possibly involving Philip II of Macedon. I did some research, worked out a chronology of the historical events and started thinking of how I might weave a plot around them. And that is still a book I intend to write, in the fullness of time.

But that idea has been rather rudely shoved out of the way by a newcomer. A novel about a woman’s relationship with her father. They are close, but there is a part of his life he will never talk about. Then, as dementia robs him of his more recent memories, he begins to live in that time again, remembering the same traumatic events as if they had only just happened. The idea got hold of me and wouldn’t let go, until, with a sigh, I put all the research I’d been doing for Zeus Mk II on one side – and started researching dementia instead!

This is a much more personal novel than either of my previous two. It’s not autobiographical, but it does draw upon my own experience much more heavily than either Zeus of Ithome or Revolution Day. And although none of the characters represents a real person (even in fictionalised form), I have borrowed aspects of real people, and events from real people’s lives (including my own) in order to fill them out. In a book that is essentially about memory, I am really enjoying revisiting some of my own memories of places that played a big part in my childhood, such as the Great Orme at Llandudno [ see pic: (c) KTC ].

What kind of novel is it?  Well, a contemporary novel, a literary novel, I guess. You could even call it a historical novel in a way. Like Revolution Day, it combines a real-time story in the present with the recollection of earlier events. The father is in effect reliving history, albeit twentieth century history (in particular the Second World War), rather than anything further back in time.

Well, there you are. I’ve said it! The cat is out of the bag. Not much more to add at this stage. I don’t have a title yet. It’s still early days, and doubtless it will take me quite a long time to finish. But watch this space …