Thank you for inviting me to bring Finding Ruby: A Nell Montague Mystery to the Authors’ Lounge.
Finding Ruby is a mystery / thriller with a paranormal twist. It features a young woman forced to confront her traumatic past to save a teenage girl, who soon discovers that nightmares don’t always end when you wake up.
The inspiration for Finding Ruby came from a derelict Victorian asylum located a ten-minute walk from my Salisbury home. Gradually the idea for a mystery thriller, involving a crime witnessed by a young girl at Halloween, began to form.
Salisbury is such an inspirational city for an author, filled with beautiful architecture, over-flowing with history, and with monuments like Stonehenge and Old Sarum castle close by. As you walk the streets there is a feeling that history is a soundtrack playing quietly in the background, which you can still hear if you care to listen.
But Finding Ruby also features the surfing village of Croyde, on the North Devon coast, with its brutal rocks, towering waves, and beautiful modern apartments. It is such a special place to me and had to be one of my locations in the book.
As a little girl I loved ghost stories and when visiting stately homes and castles would ask if there had been any sightings. If not satisfied by the answer, I would let my imagination fill in the gaps. As an adult I have taken part in several organised paranormal investigation and have visited a museum of haunted artefacts. Although Ialways keep an open mind, I have to acknowledge that things which are sometimes seen, felt, or heard cannot always be explained by science.
Finding Ruby has a wide appeal, although due to some of the themes is not suitable for younger teens and children. I have also received glowing reviews from young adults who freely admit that they are more likely to pick up a gaming console than a book. My protagonist has found a place in so many people’s hearts and I’ve been told that all my characters are well crafted and believable. Apparently my writing style puts the reader right in the shoes of the characters so they feel part of the story themselves.
My writing process is chaotic. I work full-time as an NHS clinical audit facilitator and so I have to write when I can grab time rather than when my brain is at its most creative. I start with an emotion or dialogue and tend to write in scenes and paragraphs which then have to be put in order and stitched together onto a plot. If I feel a chapter is finished and needs no more editing, I will read it out loud to hear how it flows. This is particularly useful for dialogue. I write mysteries so clues need to be left for the reader so they hopefully begin to work out what is going on just before my characters do. But I also like to keep some surprises, or shocks, to maintain the adrenaline. I created the characters of Nell, Max and Austin by watching and listening to random people. Yes, I am that person sitting quietly in a coffee shop that listens to other people’s conversations and watches them covertly. I write in notebooks, on my mobile, on a laptop, and even on the backs of envelopes. I then use – or lose – these ideas or snippets of overheard conversations in my manuscript.
I am currently writing the sequel to Finding Ruby, which will be a spooky Christmas mystery. Hopefully it will be ready for release in November 2022. I also have a quartet of creepy Christmas short stories, Three Spells for Christmas, available to download on Amazon.
In October 2021 I was so excited to win a Page Turner Awards book award for Finding Ruby. My prize was a Spectrum audiobook production and I can’t wait to hear it. Hopefully having my book available as an audiobook will open up a whole new readership for me and make it more accessible. In the future I would love to have a traditional publishing contract and agent, but in the meantime I will carry on writing and publishing independently,
The world is a mysterious place and our minds can conjure both exciting dreams and terrifying nightmares, but mysteries and thrillers teach us that as long as we believe in ourselves, we can end one chapter of our lives and start a happier one.
Connect with me on Twitter or Instagram to learn more
Twitter – JAHiggins-Author
Instagram – higgins_author
Finding Ruby is available to download, or in paperback from Amazon http://mybook.to/FINDINGRUBY