Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

Getting to Know You: Judy Penz Sheluk

International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk has kindly given us some of her time today. Judy’s debut mystery novel, ‘The Hanged Man’s Noose‘, the first in the ‘Glass Dolphin Mystery’ series, was published in July 2015. The sequel, ‘A Hole In One‘, was released on the 1st of March.

Skeletons in the Attic‘, Judy’s second novel, and the first in her ‘Marketville Mystery’ series, was first published in August 2016 and re-released in December 2017. ‘Past & Present’, the sequel, is scheduled for early 2019.

In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy works as a freelance writer and editor. In addition to all of that, Judy is also a member of a number of crime writing collectives and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Director and Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario.

As you can see, Judy is a very busy lady and I’m really grateful that she’s taken the time to chat with us. 

Vic x

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Tell us about your books.
I write two amateur sleuth mystery series. The first is the Glass Dolphin Mysteries; the Glass Dolphin is an antiques shop on historic Main Street in the fictional town of Lount’s Landing. The main characters are Arabella Carpenter, owner of the shop, Emily Garland, a journalist, and Levon Larroquette, ex-husband (and occasionally more) to Arabella. Let’s just say they have a complicated relationship. The first book in the series is The Hanged Man’s Noose (which happens to be the name of a pub; Lount’s Landing is named after a real life Canadian politician, Samuel Lount, who was hanged for treason in the nineteenth century). It’s available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook. The sequel, A Hole in One, has just been released in e-book and trade paperback. Audio will follow later this year.

Noose

The other series is the Marketville Mysteries. The first book in the series is Skeletons in the Attic, told in first person by Calamity (Callie) Barnstable. Callie inherits a house from her late father on the condition she moves into the house (which she did not know existed) while investigating who murdered her mother thirty years before. It’s available in e-book, trade paperback and audiobook. The sequel, Past & Present, should be released in early 2019.

Both my series are published by Barking Rain Press.

Skeletons

What inspired them?
The premise behind Noose is that a greedy developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the local indie shops. We see that sort of thing happen all the time. I merely took that premise and said, “What if someone was willing to kill to stop it?”

The premise behind Skeletons came to me when my husband and I were waiting in our lawyer’s office. He was delayed in court and we were there to redo our wills. In fact, opening scenes are directly culled from that experience. Let that be your takeaway: everything that happens to an author may well end up in one of their books.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Life. I keep a notebook in my purse, and I’m also jotting down things I’ve seen or overheard. But I also have this wicked imagination. For example, this past summer, I was golfing and the houses along the perimeter of the course were having their roofs done. And I heard the pop-pop of the pneumatic nailers, and I said to my golf buddies, “You know, someone could get shot and everyone would just think it was the roofer.” They did look at me as though I was a bit odd!

Do you have a favourite story / character / scene you’ve written?
I love Arabella Carpenter, the irascible owner of the Glass Dolphin. I even included her in a cameo role in Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in my Marketville series. Arabella’s motto is “authenticity matters” and she lives by that, even when it comes at a high personal cost. I admire that about her.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Definitely a pantser. I’ve tried plotting but it just doesn’t work for me. That said, I’m planning to write a non-fiction work, and that will have to be outlined in detail. With fiction, I just let the story go where it wants to go.

Can you read when you’re working on a piece of writing?
Absolutely. Reading is the best teacher. I try to read 30+ books a year. Most are mystery or suspense, but I’ll also read mainstream fiction and I enjoy short story collections. I’m a huge fan of a number of authors, most recently Fiona Barton, who I think is absolutely brilliant.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given and who it was from?
I always quote Agatha Christie when I’m asked this: “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.”

What can readers expect from your books?
I refer to them as amateur sleuth with an edge. There is the requisite small town, no overt sex, violence or bad language, but there’s also no cats, crafts or cookie recipes. People tell me the plots are more complicated than a typical cozy, and I do have a lot of characters, but they all play a part. They’re not just there for window dressing.

Have you got any advice for aspiring writers?
Make time to write every day. You can’t edit a blank page. And write what you’d like to read, not what you think will sell. By the time you’ve written the next great vampire book, the vampire craze will be long over. Start your own craze.

What do you like and dislike about writing?
Of course I like it best when the words flow like maple syrup, but even when they don’t I’m reminded of Erica Jong, who wrote: “When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.”

Are you writing anything at the moment?
Always. I’m currently working on the third book of the Glass Dolphin series, and a standalone mystery/suspense. And I have a couple of short story ideas I’m mulling over. And the non-fiction work I’m researching. I try to write every day, even if I only have a few minutes, even if it’s Christmas, New Year’s Day or my birthday. It doesn’t always work out that way!

What’s your favourite writing-related moment?
The day I signed my first book contract for The Hanged Man’s Noose. I’d faced the usual rejection from agents and publishers, but I wasn’t giving up. The email came in on July 1, 2014, which happens to be Canada Day. My husband and I popped open a bottle of champagne and danced on our back deck. The book came out July 2015.

Where can we find you?
My website where I write about the writing life, interview other authors, write the occasional book review, and I also have a series called New Release Mondays where I include a brief summary of a new book. Most are mysteries or suspense, but not always, and most of the authors are not well known, but deserve to be better known.

I’m also part of two multi-author blogs: Pens, Paws and Claws and The Stiletto Gang

I’m also on Facebook, and Twitter and Pinterest. 

Review of 2017: Ragnar Jónasson

Earlier this year, I took part in the blog tour for Ragnar Jónasson‘s latest book ‘Whiteout‘. I really enjoyed reading the book and I’m delighted to have Ragnar on the blog today to review his 2017. 

Vic x

 

Do you have a favourite memory professionally from 2017?
2017 was a very eventful year for me, travelling all around the world for my books: Hawaii, Toronto, New York, London, Scotland, Bristol and Paris, Lyon and Caen in France. My books were published in Iceland, UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Armenia, Japan, Korea, Australia and Portugal. It was great to host a group of journalists from France who came to Iceland to interview me this spring. Hitting sales of 150,000 books in France this year was also truly remarkable, as well as getting my first reviews in major US newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. And just recently when The Times picked by book as one of the crime books of the year. Also, it was a really great moment when I was sitting by the pool at a hotel in Boston this summer, and noticed that the stranger sitting next to me was actually reading a book I had written, in French. Such an amazing coincidence.

And how about a favourite moment from 2017 generally?
Visiting Hawaii was really amazing, as well as going to Boston, one of my favorite cities, for my birthday. Also seeing some great musicians perform live, such as The Killers and Phil Collins in London, and my friend Vikingur Olafsson, Iceland’s greatest pianist, at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, one of the most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world. And some great memories from Iceland, such as the day this winter when we had the greatest snowfall in years, and then sitting on a cliff outside Siglufjordur in the summer watching the midnight sun go down at 3am.

Favourite book in 2017?
There are a few. One of them is only available in Icelandic and French, Handbók um minni og gleymsku by Ragnar Helgi Olafsson (French title: La Réunion du Conseil national de l’audiovisuel). Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson is a great crime novel. And I’d also like to mention Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, and Johan Norberg’s Progress.

Favourite film in 2017?
For the first time in too many years I was able to see a new Agatha Christie movie at the cinema. The latest movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express starring Kenneth Branagh was a special treat for an Agatha Christie enthusiast like me. The film was really well done, and with great actors in every role, this was a true delight. Another favourite film from 2017 was Baby Driver, really great.

Favourite song of the year?
So many songs. Some of the artists that I really like at the moment, in addition to excellent Icelandic musicians, are Mura Masa and Kendrick Lamar. Also, I love classical music, and recommend Vikingur Olafsson’s recordings of Philip Glass for Deutsche Grammophon, released in 2017.

Any downsides for you in 2017?
My memory serves me well and erases everything that does not live up to my expectations.

Are you making resolutions for 2018?
I never make formal resolutions but I hope to read more than last year, travel and enjoy life.

What are you hoping for from 2018?
Apart from the health and happiness, I hope the Icelandic football team win World Cup in Russia. In any case, my flights are already booked to see them play in Moscow, Volgograd and Rostov-on-Don.