Shani Struthers…Choose Your Cast of ‘The Haunting of Highdown Hall’…

I have just finished reading ‘The Haunting of Highdown Hall’ by Shani Struthers, and loved it! It was a pacey, twisty, spooky read that has left me hanging out for more books in the Psychic Surveys Series. No pressure of anything Shani, but I’m ready when you are!

Today, I am stoked to welcome Shani who has chosen those she would cast as the characters in ‘Haunting’ on the big screen…

Blurb:

‘Good morning, Psychic Surveys. How can I help?’

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The latest in a long line of psychically-gifted females, Ruby Davis, can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light – or ‘home’ as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it’s a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born.

Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have been kept busy of late. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading – it’s not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star, Cynthia Hart, is still in residence, despite having died in 1958.

Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia. She insists the devil is blocking her path to the light long after Psychic Surveys have ‘disproved’ it. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia’s world and the darkness that now inhabits it.

For the first time in her career, Ruby’s deepest beliefs are challenged.

Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?

 

Character 1 –  Cynthia Hart

Tell us about this character:

1950’s movie star, Cynthia is world-famous – ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ – the papers call her. About to star in Hollywood blockbuster, Atlantic, she is in demand the world over. Cynthia is also dead. On Christmas Eve, her thirty-first birthday, she suffered a fatal heart attack at her home, Highdown Hall, her glittering career cut cruelly short. Cynthia’s not happy but it’s not just her early demise that upsets her, it’s something else or rather, someone else. Someone who is waiting in the shadows, who refuses to let her pass into the light – someone whose grudge grounds them both.

Who would you choose to play this character?

Cynthia Hart is based on a true-life movie star but I cannot reveal her name in case I get sued! A friend of a friend inherited her house back in the ‘90s and this is based on his story of what he experienced there. However, I have chosen a less well-known 1950s movie star to be the face of Cynthia – Rhoda Baxter – who has the same Titian curls, sapphire eyes and voluptuous figure! I’ll let you into another secret – Cynthia Hart is the name of my grandmother – although she died when I was 7, she was so glamorous and movie star like, I thought the name quite befitting!

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Character 2 –  Ruby Davis

Tell us about this character:

Ruby Davis is the latest in a long line of female psychics – she can see through the veil that separates this world and the next – and because she can, she feels it is her duty to help earthbound spirits move towards the light, or home as she and her grandmother call it. To that end, she has set up a company called Psychic Surveys who specialise in domestic spiritual disturbance. By occupying high street offices her aim is to remove the taboo surrounding psychic matters, to put the normal into paranormal. Aged twenty-four, Ruby herself is a down-to-earth, ordinary character, albeit with an extraordinary gift.

Who would you choose to play this character and why?

I have a Pinterest board with all Psychic Surveys characters pinned to it and I have to say, although Ruby was picked from hundreds of pictures and is no one particularly famous, she is Ruby – exactly how I envisaged her. It’s the eyes…

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Character 3 –  Cash Wilkins

Tell us about this character:

Cash works with computers – a word as mysterious to Ruby as the psychic world is to others. At the beginning of Psychic Surveys, she meets him in the pub – they are reading the same book – and quickly they strike up a deal. She wants a website, he wants to learn more about her fascinating career. She agrees to let Cash accompany her to an initial survey – that survey is Highdown Hall, the home of Cynthia Hart. Cash’s fascination is not just with Highdown but with Ruby too and a tentative relationship develops. Ruby is wary of men, she finds they tire easily of her work and the effect it has on her – but Cash seems different, he wants to help her. “I don’t know, it just seems really noble what you do, helping grounded spirits to move on, unusual but noble.”

Who would you choose to play this character and why?

Again, I picked the face of Cash from hundreds of Pinterest contenders – there’s no one else I would consider him to be, no one famous anyway. But hey, look at him, he’s gorgeous isn’t he?

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Character 4 –  Theo

Tell us about this character:

Theo is in her late sixties and as wide as she is tall, almost! Her hair, instead of snow-white, is pink, a soft, tasteful shade of pink but pink nonetheless! Whenever Ruby see’s her she is reminded of a line from Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, The Night Before Christmas, the one that referred to St Nick as a ‘right jolly old elf’. But Theo is no elfin-like creature, she is actually one of the most formidable women Ruby has ever met – a long-timer in the field. Although Psychic Surveys is Ruby’s business, she often tends to take her cue from Theo.

 

 

Who would you choose to play this character and why?

Easy one – Judi Dench but with pink hair!

Other team members include Ness, in her early fifties with dark hair and winter pale heart-shaped face. Whereas Theo is effusive in nature, Ness is more sombre – Ruby suspects past experiences have made her so, particularly her work as a psychic with Sussex Police, but if that is so, Ness is not saying. At twenty-one, Corinna is the youngest of the group – a sensitive rather than a psychic, she is bright and bubbly despite her preferred Gothic attire with abundant Pre-Raphaelite red curls.

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Character 5 – Jed

Tell us about this character: Jed is undoubtedly the star of the show. A black Labarador that has long since passed – he attaches himself to Ruby during a psychic cleansing – switching his highly developed sense of loyalty from the family he once protected to her. And he is a protector, coming to the rescue on several occasions when Ruby finds herself in psychic trouble. Ruby suspects he is more than just an animal spirit but what he is she doesn’t fully know – not yet.

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Also by Shani, The Runaway Year

runawayWhen the going gets tough… it’s easy to run. Layla does, as far away as possible. Penny and Hannah do too, each in their own way. But how long can you run and what happens when you stand your ground? Over the course of 12 hectic months, three best friends embark on an emotional rollercoaster of a ride, discovering that if it’s love you’re up against, true love, you can’t escape that easily.

 

 

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Author Limelight: Shani Struthers…

Hello Shani Struthers and welcome to the Author Limelight!

What was the first story you ever wrote?

The Runaway Year is actually the first story I ever wrote, although first draft is nothing like the published draft and the title was different too. In fact, it had a range of titles before deciding on the above, a range of styles and a totally different ending! As a copywriter though, I’m forever writing, it’s the day job and night job too!

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Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

The Runaway Year features three main female characters. Layla Lewis is the main character but her best friends Penny and Hannah play a big part too – each of them dealing with their own particular romantic dilemma. Penny is the most feisty of the three and an outrageous flirt to boot. As well as being great fun, she’s kind and caring too, a great friend – as one reviewer said ‘everybody needs a Penny in their lives.’

Has being publishing changed you at all? If so, how?

Being published has given me confidence in my work, if a publisher is prepared to take a chance on my book, it has to be okay, right? It’s also made me very driven. This year it’s one book out there, next year, there’ll be another, maybe even two!

What would we find on your bookshelf/e-reader?

I’ve got a whole mix of books on my bookshelf, authors ranging from James Herbert, Dean Koontz and Stephen King (yep, I love horror!) to Lisa Jewell and Penny Vincenzi. On my e-reader I take a lot more chances with unknown authors. There’s Gunshot Glitter by Yasmin Selena Butt, Tall, Dark and Kilted by Lizzie Lamb and all of Emily Harvale’s fantastic romance books. My TBR is outrageous at the mo!

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

I love seafood – prawns, squid, mussels – but oysters, I just can’t bring myself to try them. Although the shell they come in is so pretty, the oyster itself does not entice!

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

 a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Easy one, I’d be the most wonderful heroine of them all (in my opinion!) Scarlett O’Hara! She’s naughty, she’s feisty, she’s strong in a crisis and she’s downright deluded. Ashley over Rhett? Oh come on! Still, she sees the light in the end but it’s too late, Rhett doesn’t give a damn anymore. I wouldn’t rewrite a thing though, it’s up the reader to imagine what happens next and I’ve imagined loads of times!

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

I wish I’d written The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It’s the first book I ever read regarding King Arthur and the dark ages and it kick-started an almost obsessive interest in that period of time for me that I still have to this day (although not quite so obsessive at the mo). An incredibly powerful thing for a book to do.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

That I could create more hours in the day! With three kids, copywriting to do and a house to see to, sometimes evening comes and I haven’t worked on my book at all. I’d like to create an extra three hours just to sit and write on the latest WIP and preferably I’d like that timeframe to occur around mid-morning when I’m at my best!

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If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is the one thing you would want to take with you?

I’d go back to the dark ages to see if King Arthur and his cohorts truly existed. Where I would go would be Tintagel in North Cornwall, his supposed birthplace. And the one thing I would take with me would be a camera so I can take some shots of him!

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

I am currently putting the finishing touches to a paranormal mystery that’s heavy on romance too. When that’s done and sent off, I’m going to work on a sequel to The Runaway Year, I’ve already sketched out the story for it, now I just need to flesh it out.

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from The Runaway Year, please?

Finding herself on the way to the village centre again, she pulled over, intending to negotiate a three-point turn. The cottage was slightly out of the village, so she needed to get back onto the opposite side of the road and go back up the hill. Glancing over Hannah’s instructions again, she swung the car to the right—straight into the path of a motorcyclist.

What happened next seemed to happen in slow motion. The rider tried to stop but couldn’t do so in time, although he did manage to avoid hitting her car. As he turned his handlebars hard to the right, his tires lost grip on the wet road and he flew off, sliding some way before coming to a halt.

Layla sat motionless in her car, paralyzed temporarily by the shock. At last she managed to galvanize herself into action and fumbled for the door handle, her shaking hands making it hard to get a grip. When the door finally opened, another dilemma hit. What if she couldn’t stand? Her legs felt like jelly, surely they wouldn’t support her. Forcing herself upward, she was relieved to discover they held firm. Once she was sure they would continue to do so, she bolted over to where the biker lay, placed one hand on his soaking leather-clad shoulder and said, “Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not bloody okay!” he replied, a pair of bright blue eyes meeting hers as he lifted his visor. “I’m a bit bruised and battered as it goes.”

Despite his belligerent words, relief flooded through her: he wasn’t dead!

“Oh, I’m so glad,” she said, letting out a huge sigh.

“Glad?” he said, sitting up now and brushing the mud and leaves off his left arm. “Charming.”

“Oh, no, no,” she stuttered, realizing what she’d just said. “I’m not glad that I knocked you over. I’m glad you’re alive.”

“Only just, I think,” he replied, needing a helping hand to stand up.

“Can I give you a lift somewhere, take you to the nearest hospital?”

“The nearest hospital? That would be in Bodmin, I think, about fifteen miles from here. I don’t fancy driving fifteen miles with you behind the wheel.”

Feeling a little indignant now, Layla replied, “I’m actually a very good driver, thank you. You’re the first accident I’ve ever had.”

“Lucky me,” he replied sarcastically.

The Runaway Year-

Dumped by her hotshot boyfriend and boss, Layla Lewis quits her job and heads to Trecastle in North Cornwall to house-sit for a friend-of-a-friend. Trecastle isn’t new to her; it’s a place where she holidayed regularly with her now-estranged mother. It’s also the home of Hannah McKenzie, her childhood friend. Hannah has tempted her with a place to live and a job in the local pub. Needing time to nurse her battered heart and escape her “real life” for a year, Layla accepts.

Hannah is a talented artist as well as a barmaid. She lives in the village center with her boyfriend Jim, a singer in a local band. They are happy together, or as happy as they can be, considering. Hannah loves Jim, but there is someone she loves more and it’s pushing them to breaking point.

Meanwhile, back in Brighton, Layla’s fiery yet loyal friend Penny seeks revenge on her behalf, sending a forged email that could damage her ex’s business prospects. Penny wonders if she has gone too far but is soon preoccupied with her own problems: the sizzle has fizzled in her marriage, and she feels neglected. After getting frisky with Dylan one night, she confesses all to her husband—and he’s been like ice ever since.

Over the course of a year, there is laughter and heartache as all three endeavor to rein in their tumultuous love lives—discovering you can run all you like, but if it’s love you’re up against, true love, good things can only happen when you stand your ground.

 

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