An Amazon International bestselling author, I “met” Judy Penz Sheluk through Sisters in Crime – Guppy Branch, an anagram of sorts for “the great unpublished,” although after many years in existence, several members are now published authors who have elected to stay in the Guppy fold to mentor and/or share their publishing experience with others. Judy is one of this group; a member since 2013, her debut novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic was published in August 2015. Her short crime fiction is included in several anthologies, most recently, The Whole She-Bang 3, a blind-judged collection published by the Toronto branch of Sisters in Crime.Judy lives in Alliston, Ontario, a small town about 90 minutes northwest of Toronto, Canada, with her husband, Mike, and their 1-year-old Golden Retriever, Gibbs.
I hope you enjoy my interview with her:
Me: Where do you get your ideas?
Judy: Life! The basic premise behind The Hanged Man’s Noose is this: a greedy real estate developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store on the town’s historic Main Street, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the independent shop owners. The town I was living in at the time I wrote it was going through similar development, to much outrage. I merely took that premise and thought, “What if someone was willing to kill to stop it?”
The basic premise behind Skeletons in the Attic is this: a thirty-six year old woman, Callie Barnstable, inherits a house from her father, who died in an “unfortunate occupational accident.” Not only was Callie unaware of the house, she was completely unprepared for the condition of inheritance: move into the house and find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. That idea came to me while I was waiting in my lawyer’s office to revise my will. He’d been delayed in court, and I got to wondering, “What if I was here to inherit? What if…”
My husband likes to joke that he sleeps with his eyes open.
Me: Why do you write mysteries?
Judy: I’ve loved the mystery genre since my first Nancy Drew book. In my teens, I discovered (and devoured) every Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh book. By my mid-twenties, I’d read every Dick Francis, Ed McBain and John D. MacDonald. Today, I’m a huge fan of Wendy James, Tana French, Sue Grafton, Louise Penny, John Sandford, Sara J. Henry, and Michael Connelly. People often ask me if reading in the genre I write can cause problems for me. The reverse is true. Reading is the best teacher. Before I started writing short stories, for example, I read several crime fiction anthologies.
Me: How difficult was it to find a publisher?
Judy: I naively thought it would be easy. I’d been a freelance writer and editor since 2003, and had developed a decent reputation. I also understood the business. But it took about two years to find a publisher for Noose. For Skeletons, it took about two days…once you’ve had some success, it does get easier. I purposely have two publishers (with a sequel due to each for 2017) because they are two different series, and I didn’t want to put all my books in one publisher’s basket. There have been so many changes in the publishing world, and they continue to come. If readers are interested, my website, www.judypenzsheluk.com, has a series titled “My Publishing Journey.” Start with the first post (select from the Archives), “The First Cut is the Deepest,” and go from there. I’m very honest about my journey, the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Me: Do your books have helpful hints (recipes, book club notes) at the back?
Judy: No recipes. I like to say my books are amateur sleuth with an edge. There’s the requisite small town and amateur sleuth, but there’s no cats, crafts, or cookie recipes. That said, on the cover of Noose, there’s a “Treasontini,” which is signature drink of The Hanged Man’s Noose (a pub on Main Street). Here’s the recipe:
|Gibbs at our cottage on Lake Superior (northern Ontario)|
How to Make a Treasontini
2 oz. Blueberry Vodka
2 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Blueberry Juice
1 dash Club Soda
Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
Preparation: Combine blueberry vodka, triple sec and blueberry juice in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with club soda, garnish with blueberries, and serve.
Me: Thank you, Judy. I’ll see you in the Guppy “pond.”
Find Judy on www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she blogs about the writing life and interviews other authors. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest , Goodreads, Twitter and Amazon.
Judy is giving away a signed paperback copy of Skeletons in the Attic on Goodreads to readers in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia here. Enter before December 1st for a chance to win.