Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of The Hanged Man’s Noose. Her short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime (Carrick Publishing), The Whole She-Bang 2 (Toronto Sisters in Crime) and Flash and Bang (Untreed Reads). In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy works as a freelance writer, specializing in art, antiques and the residential housing industry; her articles have appeared regularly in dozens of U.S. and Canadian consumer and trade publications. Judy met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about her novel and literary influences.
Tell us about your novel.
The Hanged Man’s Noose is an amateur sleuth mystery with an edge. By that I mean that it has the usual small town setting, amateur sleuth as a protagonist, and there is no overt violence, sex, or bad language. But unlike a traditional cozy, there are no cats, crafts, or cookie recipes. Here’s a brief synopsis:
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.
Who are your literary influences?
Early book influences include:
Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), the story of Emily Star of
New Moon, PEI, who grows up dreaming of becoming a writer (and does). I received that
book as a Christmas gift and it’s one of only three books I have read more than once, and
that remains on my bookshelf after many moves.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read it when I was about 10, at a time before 24/7
news and our desensitization to violence through TV, film, video games etc. I can
remember thinking, WOW, so that’s how you describe a scene so people can “see” it
when they are reading. It’s also one of the three books I have read more than once and
I’ve watched the movie, Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, about a dozen times.
And of course, Nancy Drew (later graduating to Agatha Christie, John D. MacDonald, Ed
McBain and Ngaio Marsh).
There are plenty of authors I read and admire, but my top two are:
John Sandford. I’m a huge fan of his Prey series (and to a lesser extent, his Virgil Flowers
series). No one does pacing through dialogue the way Sandford does it.
I’ve been reading Sue Grafton from the first time I read G is for Gumshoe. I backtracked
to A, and have made my way through the series. Kinsey Millhone might not age much,
but Grafton’s plots and storytelling continue to improve with every book.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on the sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose. In Noose, Emily
Garland, a freelance journalist, is the protagonist. In the sequel, Glass Dolphin antiques shop owner Arabella Carpenter will take the wheel, and Emily will be her sidekick. My plan is to have a different protagonist for each book in the Glass Dolphin Mystery series, but one book at a time.
I’m also working on a couple of short stories, with hopes of submitting them to a couple
of anthology callouts, but I’m a very slow short story writer, so I may not make the
deadlines. But I enjoy the challenge!
What else is on the cards for you this year?
I recently completed Skeletons in the Attic, the first in my Marketville Mystery series. I’m
hoping to get a publishing contract for that in 2016. I liked the idea of having two
separate series, and they are quite different. The Hanged Man’s Noose is told in the third
person with POV shifts. Skeletons is told in the first person, with a different cast of
characters, although Arabella Carpenter, the antiques shop owner in Noose, makes a brief
I’ll be attending Malice Domestic at the end of April. It’s a mystery readers/writers
conference held in Bethesda, Maryland. I’ve never been to Malice, or to Washington, so
I’m really looking forward to it.
Beyond that, I’m really hoping to improve my golf game. Last summer I came close to
breaking 100. That’s the goal for this year! Life can’t be all about writing, can it?
Thank you Judy for an informative interview.
The Hanged Man’s Noose is available in trade paperback and eBook at all the usual suspects, including Amazon US and UK, Barnes & Noble Nook and paperback, Kobo, Chapters.Indigo, GooglePlay and iTunes, and directly from the publisher, Barking Rain Press.
Find Judy at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she blogs about the writing life and interviews other authors.
You can also find Judy at:
Amazon Author: amazon.com/author/judypenzsheluk