Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interview with Author Judy Penz Sheluk

I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Mystery Thriller Week with a special interview. Fellow author Judy Penz Sheluk is my guest today in the writer’s spotlight.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: Skeletons in the Attic is an amateur sleuth mystery, but it is suspenseful rather than cozy. It is the first book in my Marketville Mystery series, and was published by Imajin Books in August 2016. As a reader, my go-to genre is mystery and suspense. I remember reading Learning to Swim and A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry and thinking, “I’d like to write a book like that.”

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: The idea for Skeletons in the Attic came to me while I waited with my husband, Mike, in our lawyer's office. We were there to update our wills, and his goldendoodle kept us company while our lawyer was detained at court. The opening scenes of this book are culled directly from that experience. Let that be your takeaway from this: everything that happens in a writer's life may end up in one of their stories.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel?

Answer:  Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is a thirty-six-year-old single woman with “loser radar” when it comes to men. Her job as a call center worker at a bank’s fraud unit sounds a lot more exciting than it is (all the interesting stuff gets bumped up to her supervisor). When her father dies in an “unfortunate occupational accident,” she inherits a house that she had no idea existed—with the condition that she find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A mother Callie assumed had left them for “the milkman or some other male equivalent.”

Here’s a Valentine’s Day Treat—sorry not candy or flowers—instead an excerpt from the novel:

For Callie Barnstable, the protagonist in Skeletons, Valentine’s Day 
has a special meaning. And not in a good way:
I was right. The pictures had been taken the year before my mother
 left. February 14, 1986, the date forever etched in my mind. Years 
later, when a boyfriend dumped me on Valentine’s Day, my father 
lamented that I’d fallen victim to the Barnstable curse. What I’d 
fallen victim to, I’d told him, was another classic example of my 
loser radar, a combination of poor judgment and lack of insight. 
I didn’t tell him that I’d actually been expecting a ring, or that I’d 
spent hours picking out just the right Valentine’s Day card, an 
adorable image of two porcupines kissing, with the message, 
“I love you so much it hurts.” It had hurt all right, just not the way 
I’d expected. 
Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I’d love to. The Hanged Man’s Noose was my debut novel, published by Barking Rain Press in July 2015. It’s the first book in the Glass Dolphin mystery series. The premise for Noose is this: A greedy real estate developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the independent merchants on the town’s Main Street. This is something we see all the time, in growing communities. I merely took that premise and said, “What if someone was willing to murder over it?”

I’ve also written some short crime fiction, which can be found in various anthologies, all available on Amazon. I love writing short fiction, but I find it incredibly challenging. It’s almost easier to write a novel!

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  The sequel to Noose, the sequel to Skeletons, and a couple of short stories.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’ve always wanted to write. As a kid, I wrote stories in my head, on the way to school and back again. I thought all kids did that@ In 2003, I left the corporate world to try life as a freelance writer. I’ve never looked back. In late 2011, after taking some courses in Creative Writing, I decided to start The Hanged Man’s Noose. It was an instant addiction.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: I always answer this question the same way, with a quote from the late, great Agatha Christie. “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Noose is available in print and e-book at all the usual suspects, including B&N, Kobo, Amazon and Kindle. Skeletons, which is print and Kindle only, is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Judy welcomes comments and questions.


  1. Your books sound very interesting!
    Great interview too.
    Good luck and God's blessings.

  2. Jacquie, Thanks for introducing us to Judy. Judy, good luck with your novel. It sounds intriguing. And thanks also for the quote from Agatha Christie. She's one of my favorite writers.

  3. Thanks Susan. Christie, I suspect, served as inspiration to many of us.

  4. I love the term "loser radar." Nice interview.

  5. Haha, Maris, yes, I love it too...and that excerpt is based on a true event in my life (although I was a teenager expecting a promise ring). He did dump me on Valentine's Day -- on the phone! Writers have long memories :-)

  6. Wonderful excerpt. Already, I like your protagonist. I too like the term "loser radar!"

  7. Thanks Kathy. I really like Callie too. She definitely isn't me...but she does have some of my memories, like this one. She's also addicted to cocoa butter lip balm (so am I). It's fun to weave truth into fiction. I find when I do that, the characters become more authentic/real. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    1. I agree that we writers use any and every thing we experience or hear or learn. I giggle inwardly when someone recognizes him or her self in one of my books. Nice interview and best wishes.

    2. Thanks for the good wishes, Susan. Keep on giggling!

  8. Enjoyed reading and highly recommend Skeletons in the Attic. I'm looking forward to Book 2.

  9. I loved Skeleton in the Attic. I loved your interview.

  10. Thank you Vicki, I really appreciate that. I'm working on the sequel now!