Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Interview with mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk

Today’s special guest is debut mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk. We’re chatting about her new novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose.

During her virtual book tour, Judy will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery, The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery was released in July 2015 through Barking Rain Press. Her short crime fiction appears in The Whole She-Bang 2, World Enough and Crime, and Flash and Bang.

In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy is the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal and the Editor for Home BUILDER Magazine. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Find Judy on her website where she blogs about the writing life and interviews other authors.

Welcome, Judy. Please tell us a little bit about the book.
Small-town secrets and subterfuge lead to murder in a tale of high-stakes real estate wrangling gone amok.

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.

Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme—before the murderer strikes again.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Hanged Man’s Noose started life as a short story in a creative writing class. As a short story, it wasn’t particularly good, but I loved the world I’d started to create. In my heart and head, I believed it could be the beginning of a series.

Excerpt from The Hanged Man’s Noose:
Arabella Carpenter arrived at the Glass Dolphin to find a slender woman in a thin coat shivering by the front door. Arabella had made similar wardrobe miscalculations in November, a month where the prevailing Lount’s Landing winds could be as unpredictable as an eBay auction.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, but we’re not open until Saturday.” Arabella pointed to a sign in the window. Something was vaguely familiar about the woman, though she couldn’t stick a pin in it. Early thirties. Hazel eyes with a bit of a fleck. Dark brown hair tied into a ponytail, a red knit beret sloped back from her forehead. She wears it well, Arabella thought with a touch of envy. Her own attempts at beret wearing had resulted in the rather unflattering look of a Victorian shower cap crossed with a tea cozy.

Mind you, the Coach handbag Beret Girl carried was definitely a knockoff. The single rows of Coach’s signature C’s, versus double, the way the C’s didn’t quite line up at the center. It was a dead giveaway.

Arabella prided herself on her ability to spot the real from the reproduction. The antiques world was full of fakes. But not the Glass Dolphin. Within her walls, everything would be original, from the exposed beam ceiling and the carefully restored pine plank floors to the merchandise she sold.

Authenticity mattered.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working the second book in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series. In The Hanged Man’s Noose, the protagonist is Emily Garland, a freelance journalist, and her sidekick is Arabella Carpenter, the owner of the Glass Dolphin Antiques Shop. This time, the protagonist is Arabella Carpenter, and Emily Garland is her sidekick. My plan is to have another major character take over the protagonist role in book three. I’m working towards a 2017 publication date for the sequel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written stories in my head but of course, it’s rather difficult for people to read them in there. In 2002, I enrolled in an online creative writing certificate program, and in 2003, I followed that up with another creative writing course taught by Barry Dempster, an award-winning poet and novelist. That year, after being downsized from my corporate job, I decided to try my hand at freelance writing for magazines and newspapers. By 2005, I’d developed a reputation as a reliable writer and accurate researcher. I think it was easier, then, to break into the business: print media was still thriving, and I had a lot of “right place, right time,” kind of luck. I also had a couple of short stories published in THEMA, a New Orleans literary publication. From the day I left my corporate job, when people asked me what I did for a living, I would always answer, “I am a writer,” even when I only had one published clip to my credit. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, in that my day jobs are Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal and Editor for Home BUILDER Magazine. Folks often think editing is just that—editing other people’s work, and there is a lot of that, but there’s a lot of writing to do as well, both features and basically everything that isn’t bylined. I used to freelance for a couple of other publishing companies, but stopped that in 2015 in order to concentrate on my fiction writing.

Balancing the work of two magazines, one monthly, one bi-monthly, plus writing novels and short stories, plus marketing the current books, plus having a life outside of writing can be a challenge. However, I do try to write something on my work-in-progress every day. It doesn’t always work out, but most days it does. I set a weekly word count goal, vs. a daily one, because that keeps me on track without forcing me into an unrealistic mindset.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure if it’s a quirk, but I write listening to talk radio, either Newstalk 1010 Toronto or Talk 640 Toronto, depending on the host and the topic. Maybe it’s because I worked in the corporate world for years, and there was always background noise: people chatting, phones ringing etc. Besides which, I get a lot of great ideas from talk radio!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
That would depend on the day you asked me! A part of me always wanted to be a writer, because I’ve always loved reading. My earliest memories of my mother are her reading Heidi to me. Later, she worked in the toy department of a department store, and she would bring home sale copies of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (a corner dented, or what-have-you). But there was also a time I wanted to be a geologist. My parents had bought me a board that had different semi-precious gems glued to it (in their raw form). I remember there was amethyst, which was a beautiful blend of purple and clear crystals. After that, my dad would bring home a different rock or stone in his lunch pail (mica, fool’s gold, quartz) and we started a new board, though as I remember, they never stayed stuck onto the cardboard.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, thank you for asking. I have a newsletter. At this time it is only three times a year (March, July, November) but it includes things not on my website/blog. If anyone wants a back issue (July 2015 and/or November 2015), I’d be happy to send it to them (email: newsletter at judypenzsheluk dot com). Or they can sign up here for the March newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time and I don’t sell your email address.

I also have an active blog, where I write about the writing life and interview other authors, editors etc. There is a link on my website to sign up. As with my newsletter, you can unsubscribe at any time and I don’t sell email addresses.

Social Media Links

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Thank you, Lisa.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today

Mai T. said...

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

HI Mai,
I'm a definite pantser. I have a vague idea of the premise (i.e. greedy developer comes to town with plans to build a mega-box store) but beyond that, I just go chapter to chapter. With short stories, you have to be a bit more outline-driven (to keep it short) but I'm still very loose with the outline. Thanks for asking!

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Thank you for hosting me today, Lisa.

Stormy Vixen said...

Enjoyed the interview, sounds like a terrific read, thanks for sharing!

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Thank you Eva, for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and excerpt.

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Thank you Karla for stopping by.

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing such a great interview, I really enjoyed reading it :)

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Anniek: What is your favorite daydream?

Joanne Guidoccio said...

Excellent interview!

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Thanks Victoria and Ree. Nice to see you both again!

Thanks Joanne and Rita! I appreciate your kind words.