Author Clarissa Johal

“The shadows hadn’t been waiting. The shadows had been invited.”




After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift–one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister… for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.



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Book Details:
Genre: Paranormal Gothic Horror
Author(s): Clarissa Johal
Publisher: Musa Publishing


Cover Artist: Kelly Shorten
ISBN: 978-1-61937-690-8
Number of Pages: 255
Price: $4.99
Read An Excerpt:
A bolt of blue-white lightning snaked from the sky and hit the ground in front of her. The thunderclap that shattered the air was deafening. Gwynneth slammed on her brakes and skidded. It was a slow skid, or it seemed to be. Spinning around and around in a circle, she felt like she was watching herself from afar. Time felt like it was slowing. Oddly enough, she found herself wondering if there would be white or red flowers on Hannah’s casket. Or maybe none at all.


Gwynneth’s face smacked against the steering wheel. Reality hit her along with the pain. She had forgotten to wear her seatbelt. She pressed her fingers lightly to her throbbing temple and winced. “Shit!” Thankfully, she was in one piece. Gwynneth opened the car door. Lightning lit the area and bathed her senses in a flash of blue-white. Icy rain hit her skin. Stupid! You left your jacket back at the funeral home. She ran around the car and checked all the tires. The back one was flat, and on top of that, her car was quite obviously stuck in a ditch. “Great.” She had no spare tire, she knew that for sure. She also had no idea which way led back to the retirement home. Her headlights cast a weak glow through the rain. Soaked to the skin and shivering, Gwynneth peered into the darkness. A muddy road meandered across saturated fields and off into nothingness.


She sloshed back to her car and quickly turned the engine off. She certainly didn’t need a dead battery on top of a flat tire. “Okay, Gwen,” she said aloud, “you need to figure out what to do.” Rain ran in rivulets down her face and her tie-dyed T-shirt stuck to her like a second skin. I’m a soggy, shivering rainbow. She started to walk and cursed the fact that her cell phone wasn’t charged. Seth was always bugging her about that. “Suck it up, Gwen. It rains in Oregon too.” The inky blackness was disconcerting. Lightning intermittently illuminated the area like the flash of a camera.A snapshot of a road to nowhere. Gwynneth hoped that she was at least walking in the right direction. Her teeth were chattering so hard she was in danger of biting her own tongue. Thunder rolled up her spine and along her scalp like probing fingers.
Her thoughts wandered back to Hannah. A diary. I wonder what she wrote about?  She wouldn’t read it, of course, it was private. I’m sure she just wants me to throw it away so her children don’t either. A pang of loss sliced through the cold and Gwynneth shook it off. They had spent countless hours chatting and Hannah never mentioned a diary. She bit her lip. If she could only turn back time, Gwynneth would have told her how much their time together had meant. Hannah had always encouraged her to start painting again, but also understood why Gwynneth couldn’t.


A loud ‘crack’ sounded and an iridescent white light surrounded her. Two things registered: a searing pain that ripped down her back and the ground which seemed to be pulled away from her at an alarming speed.
* * * *
Pain shot through the back of Gwynneth’s head as she opened her eyes. Somebody was standing over her. She tried to focus on the face, but it hurt too much. A cool hand slid across her forehead. She opened her eyes again.


Pale, almost white eyes. High cheekbones, aquiline nose, and a well-shaped mouth. Long, white hair. Ageless. Beautiful, like a Michelangelo. All of those details registered with clarity before agony ripped through her body. She arched her back and cried out. The man murmured something into her ear which she couldn’t understand. She could feel the vibration of his voice and his breath on her neck as he gathered her in his arms. She opened her eyes and saw lightning fork to the ground silently behind him. She blacked out again.
Purchase Links:


Amazon Struck
Musa Publishing: STRUCK
Barnes and Noble: STRUCK
About the Author:


Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.


*Member of the Author’s Guild
Coming April 28, 2015 from Permuted Press
VOICES, a paranormal psychological horror


STRUCK, a paranormal gothic horror
(2014) Musa Publishing


BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal
(2012) Musa Publishing
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012
*Paranormal Reads gives BETWEEN 4 out of 5 Bats


PRADEE, a young adult fantasy
(2010) CreateSpace
*Second round finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012


Short stories:
PIGEONS, published in the literary journal Susurrus
THE ROPE, published in the literary journal Susurrus


A WAY OF LIFE, published in The Sacramento Bee
Find Clarissa Online:



Praise for STRUCK: 
Lovely Reads: 5 Stars 
This book grabs you in right away and hold your attention throughout the book. Gwen moves in with a friend and gets a job at a retirement home. Sounds like Gwen has a good and normal life, which is good for her right now. Gwen gets to meet Hannah who is a lovely old woman and they get pretty close. One day Hanna just passes unexpectedly and now things are going to shift.


A storm comes and Gwen is struck by lightning. That alone is scary enough. But how scary is it when you wake up and learn of Julian? Uh he shows her some rather unpleasant things that well, I wouldn’t want to deal with. Seth is her friend and he is kind and protective. How would he or any of her friend feel if she mentioned Julian? Maybe it would send her to the nut house if she talked. Gwen will have to say something before her friends just explode with worry, she can’t just sit there doing nothing. Gwen isn’t as open as I would have liked, so it left her friends out and I wish she would have given them more. Though it all somehow worked and didn’t change how I thought of the book.


The darkness Gwen faces is difficult and it will win if she doesn’t do anything about it. It was the type of darkness I don’t typically read, and yet I couldn’t put the book down. It was something that grabbed your interest and made you go on until you had nothing left to read. Plus even after being able to go home, Gwen isn’t free of this darkness. Her little buddy still comes around and won’t just stop because she is home. So he offers her something. Gwen has no idea what she will do. Is he good? Or is he just playing a mean trick?
I so loved this book and didn’t put it down until the very end. I really wish there was something after this book. It just needs to be continued and give me some more Gwen. These characters were written really well and the overall story flowed just right and it knew when to really grab you. This is something different for me to read and I actually liked it! Which is great because I can be picky of new reads! So everyone should give this book a chance, something different can be a good thing.


I hope to read more books from Clarissa! I give this one 5 stars!


Bibliophilic Book Blog: 4 stars 


Gwynneth (Gwen) works at a retirement home and lives with her best friend, Seth. After Gwen gets a call about one of her favorite residents dying, she goes to the funeral home to pay her last respects. Leaving the funeral home, she’s struck by lightning. Waking in the hospital, Gwen has a faint memory of an unknown man rescuing her and an odd burn mark on her back. Gwen’s mysterious rescuer comes back to her and offers her the ability to hold back death – but will the price she’ll pay be worth this so-called gift? STRUCK will get beneath your skin from the very beginning. Gwen’s a likable character with a difficult past and tenuous future after meeting Julian. I liked the secondary characters, especially Fenten and Poppy. The characters were definitely all well-developed and engaging. While I understood some of Gwen’s choices, I wished she’d have been more open with her friends about Julian because there is power in numbers. STRUCK flowed well, with no choppiness or dangling plot strings. Following along with Gwen as she explores and delves into this new darkness, you’ll be intrigued and entranced. STRUCK is a good book with a solid plot and great characters.


Bex ‘n; Books: 5 Stars 


This is a spooky thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won’t be able to put it down because you must finish it to see what happens, even if it keeps you up late at night to do so.
Gwen has had a string of bad luck but then she moved to her new town only to get struck by lightning. When this happens, she starts seeing all kinds of things that aren’t natural. Little does she know, she isn’t crazy. Her roommate begins seeing her change and is afraid he is going to lose her but to what, he doesn’t know. Seth tries to get her to open up and tell him but Gwen thinks she is starting to go crazy.
This is a story that will have you feeling all the strange things that happen to Gwen and you start to hope she can fight the things so she can survive. Everything that happens to her is real and not in her head. Once her friends step in, they all learn about her battles and she finally accepts that she doesn’t have to fight alone.
Is this a battle of other world beings, something that Gwen can fight? Is she strong enough to really overcome this battle and not lose everything she loves? These questions are answered but you won’t get those answers until the very end. Loved this spooky, mysterious, thriller until the last page. Don’t think about it too much or you won’t be able to sleep at night. The shadows may get you!


In D’Tale Magazine: 3.5 Stars 


GOTHIC HORROR: Gwynneth Reese discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, so she packed up her things, moved to San Francisco and became roommates with her best friend, Seth. Ignoring her painting and Art History degree she starts work at a retirement home and realizes she loves it. She’s upset when one particular resident passes away alone on a stormy night. Gwynneth drives over to the funeral home to pay her respects, but on her way back she crashes into a ditch and gets struck by lightning while walking along the road. It’s a miracle she survives, but strange and scary things are now happening to her and they seem connected to her dead friend. As she begins to question her sanity Gwynneth has to figure out what is going on, how to stop it and somehow stay alive.


A fascinating combination of horror and fantasy with a dash of romance, this tale will have one eyeing thunderstorms with extreme wariness. Seth is a strong character, as are the other secondary people in Gwynneth’s life, but Julian is never really satisfactorily explained. However, while Gwynneth is a well-developed character it is easy for the reader to grow frustrated with some of her more ill-conceived decisions, decisions that make one want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some common sense into her. An intriguing plot is complicated by confusing images and unexplained things that slither. A tightening of the plot added to further clarification of Julian and his slinking creatures would make this a truly hair-raising story.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


How did you come up with the idea for STRUCK?
Some stories begin as random scenes, some as characters, and some are born from asking the question, “What if?” I was hit with the idea of STRUCK while running on a forest trail near my house. It was during a thunderstorm and I wondered what it would be like to be hit by lightning. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night and in essence, those entities are energy. What if a portal was opened by a lightning strike? And what if that portal allowed the energy from those entities to escape? The idea was intriguing and I went to bed still thinking about it. That night, I dreamt I stood in a field, with lightning striking the ground all around me. But the lightning wasn’t just releasing electrical energy, the lightning was releasing negative entities from the Otherworld. I woke from the nightmare in a panic, thinking those entities had somehow attached themselves to me. And so a story is born.


I went on to research the effects of being struck by lightning, interviewed several lightning survivors, and began writing STRUCK. I’m continually amazed how a, “What if?” idea can expand into a novel.
What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?


I wrote my first short story in grade six. I was asked by the teacher to read it aloud to the class, which terrified me. After I was finished, I realized that I actually had everyone’s attention! I was shy and we moved every year, so I was always the new kid. When you’re in that situation, it’s kind of like being invisible. Finding my voice through story-telling made me realize how powerful writing could be. As far as continuing—truthfully? I think I’d go nuts if I didn’t write.
What made you choose the genre of paranormal gothic horror?


I started out writing fantasy fiction. I was working on the second installment to my PRADEE series when there were two characters that kept showing up on the page, over and over. They didn’t belong in fantasy novel, nor did they belong in my story! But their backstory came to me so vividly, that I set aside my series and wrote my first paranormal novel, BETWEEN. I’ve been pulled into the Otherworld permanently now. The ideas come faster than I can write them down.