Highland Reaper: Having writing as an outlet saved my life - Shauna

By Aideen O'Flaherty

Author Shauna Richmond began writing fiction several years ago when she suffered a breakdown and struggled with anxiety and depression, as creating her fantasy novels, which are set in the Viking era, provided a much-needed outlet.

Originally from Cushlawn in Tallaght, Shauna has developed her Raghnall series of books across six books, with the latest one, ‘Highland Reaper’, slated for release in April.

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Author Shauna Redmond

Her debut novel, ‘The Wrath of Raghnall’ is due to be released as an audiobook shortly, marking a busy few weeks ahead for the talented writer.

Shauna, a past pupil of Killinarden Community School, told The Echo about how writing gave her a sense of accomplishment when she was at her lowest ebb, and she detailed what readers can expect from the Raghnall series.

You started writing when you were recovering from a breakdown, what did it mean to you to have writing as an outlet at a time when you were struggling?

I started writing at one of the darkest times in my life, mental health-wise. I was severely depressed. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was having dark thoughts and I was out of work sick because I could not cope.

I was having constant panic attacks and I needed that time off. Personally, I feel that having writing as an outlet saved my life. It gave me something to do with zero pressure – I could write as much or as little as I felt.

Having that escape, and being able to delve into this other world, gave me that escape my mind needed and by the end there was that massive sense of accomplishment. I never thought I would be able to write a book, and without having that breakdown, I don't think I would have ever had the courage to do it.

You released your debut novel 'The Wrath of Raghnall' back in 2019, and it will be launched as an audiobook in the coming weeks. How do you feel about it being released in that format?

I'm delighted about the release of ‘The Wrath of Raghnall’ as an audiobook.

My old publisher originally printed a draft of the book and it looked so bad. After numerous discussions, the book still wasn't fixed, so I left them and went indie and fixed the book myself.

So, it is re-released with a new cover and the works, but I think having the audio is great for anyone who may have one of those first editions to be able to listen to it the way it should have been printed. Also, it reaches another audience as an audiobook, so I'm excited for new people to discover the series.

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Your debut novel was the first part of a trilogy of books about Raghnall. What are the books about?

Originally it was a trilogy, but I could not finish it all in three books, so it is a four-part series now. I'm currently working on the final book.

The books are about two households dealing with the aftermath of the decisions from the generation before. Finn Olden is one of the protagonists in the series.

From his side of things, we come into the series knowing about his uncles Tristan and Gabriel and their brutal murders.

Freya Raghnall is a protagonist from the other house, we come into the series knowing about her family's slaughters.

Her mother and brothers were killed in a raid, one she barely managed to escape with her life and the entire Raghnall lineage has been wiped out bar her Freya, her father and brother.

After the Oldens are betrayed and must flee their home, these characters start putting pieces of the puzzle together and soon find out that their families’ murders are connected and that there has been a massive cover-up.

What was it like to be able to develop the story across four books?

I loved developing the story. I think having it as a series gives it depth. With any series, the first book is the slowest, giving the character introductions and world building. I think what I love most about writing this world and developing it is that it is a fantasy world.

You can do anything with it. If I decide giants are a good idea, I'll add them in, if I want a foul-mouthed fae running around abusing the other characters, I can add it in, and it works. It's such an addictive outlet because you can have so much fun with it, and to get to experience it all alongside the characters is fantastic.

You're releasing a new book in April, what is the book about?

My latest book, ‘Highland Reaper’, is the second book in the prequel series. The first book, ‘Shattered Steel’, follows Freya's mother and her journey on what set everything in motion.

The book is a lot less serious as opposed to ‘The Wrath of Raghnall’, since it is set before all these wars kick off. There is monster slaying, comedic scenes, and a few steamy ones (constantly requested by my readers.) Highland Reaper, which releases on April 5, is about Tristan.

The reader gets to see how this young man became The Reaper – the legend that, even decades after his death, people still fear and talk about.

Shauna’s books are available on Amazon and Book Depository, and she also sells signed copies of her books on her Instagram page, @shauna.richmond

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