Today I’m excited to share my interview with Judy Penz Sheluk, who is celebrating the launch of her new book, The Hanged Man’s Noose (read the first 4 chapters for free here).
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer and editor since 2003, specializing in art, antiques, and the residential housing industry. Currently, I’m the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal and the Editor for Home BUILDER Canada. My short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing, Nov. 2014) and The Whole She-Bang 2 (Toronto Sisters in Crime). I’ve also had three short stories published in THEMA, a New Orleans-based literary publication.
I grew up in Toronto, Canada, but I’ve lived in a variety of smallish towns, all within a couple of hours from the city. I currently live with my husband in a small town northwest of Toronto.
In my leisure time, I golf a couple of times a week (during our sadly too short season), try to run three to five times a week (anywhere from three miles to whatever distance I might be training for), and read at least one book a week, mostly mystery, suspense and mainstream fiction.
Tell us about your book.
Here’s a brief outline of the premise:
Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, Ontario, Canada, a small town named after a colorful nineteenth century Canadian traitor. Emily quickly learns that many 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 an 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 of the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered. 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.
As you can see, I’ve managed to incorporate my experience as a freelance writer and my knowledge of antiques! As for the greedy developer, I don’t personally know any, but I’ve seen firsthand how people can become irate when big box development comes to their local community. I merely took that premise and said, “what if?”
Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?
Emily Garland is the protagonist, but I love Arabella Carpenter, the antiques shop owner. To Arabella, authenticity matters, above all else. There’s a paragraph when I introduce Arabella that sums her up nicely:
There were some, among them her know-it-all ex-husband, Levon, who might say this wasn’t the time to invest heart and soul—not to mention her hard-fought life’s savings—into brick and mortar when so much of today’s antiques trade was negotiated online. But while Arabella had considered hiring a web design firm from Toronto to “enhance her online presence,” replacing lemon oil and old leather with search engines and live bidding was as foreign to her as relinquishing the tactile feel of page and paper for a Kindle.
If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?
The full collection of works by Agatha Christie. I’ve read them all, but it was many, many years ago. I’d love to reread them all, in order, and maybe figure out the key to writing a locked-room mystery. Besides, Christie was prolific enough that I’d have plenty to read until I got rescued.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
My next mystery is Skeletons in the Attic, which I’m almost ready to send out into the world for publishing consideration. Arabella Carpenter makes a brief appearance, but other than that, all the characters and the main town are different. I started Skeletons when I was waiting to hear about the fate of Noose. I couldn’t bear to write a sequel to a book I hadn’t sold yet, but I didn’t want to stop writing. Skeletons was a good compromise.
I have just started outlining A Hole In One, which is a sequel to Noose. In that book, I plan to have Arabella as the protagonist and Emily as her sidekick. But that could change!
You can find Judy on her website, www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she blogs and interviews others about the writing life. You can also find her on Twitter @JudyPenzSheluk, Facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk, Pinterest/judypenzsheluk, and on amazon.com/author/judypenzsheluk.