An Interview with Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz ShelukCheck out The Hanged Man’s Noose as well as Skeletons in the Attic, due out August 21st.

What do you write, and why?

I write crime fiction. My novels are what I like to call “amateur sleuth with an edge.” That means my protagonists are amateur sleuths and the books are set in the requisite small town but there are no white picket fences, cats, crafts or cookie recipes. My short crime fiction is varied.


When and where do you write?

When I’m working on a book, I try to write a chapter a day, though it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m also the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal and the Editor of Home Builder Canada (string enough writing jobs together, you can almost earn a living…emphasis on the almost), so the time of day I write fiction fluctuates based on my deadlines for the magazines.

I always write in my home office, on my iMac, with talk radio on. I can’t imagine writing in a coffee shop.


How do you write?

I’m a complete panster. The chapter a day thing works for me because I have no idea where I’m going with my story, so I try to leave each chapter with enough of a hook that I’ll want to come back and write the next day. When I’m writing a short story, I’ll try to get the basic draft done in a couple of days. Then I get to work.

What do you read, and who?

Primarily mystery and suspense, though I also read other fiction. My favorite current-day authors, in no particular order, are: Michael Connelly, John Sandford, Tana French, Sara J. Henry, Louise Penny, Sue Grafton and Kristina Stanley. I grew up on Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Ed McBain, Dick Francis and John D. MacDonald. I’ve read every book by every one of those authors.

When do you read, and why?

I read every day, usually after dinner. It relaxes me. Reading is also the best teacher. When I decided to try my hand at short stories, I read several anthologies.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced when writing your last book?

Finding the time every day. Some days, it’s really hard…

Give aspiring writers some good advice.

I always quote Agatha Christie whenever I’m asked this question: “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.”

Plug your next book.

Skeletons in the Attic: A Marketville Mystery (#1) [August 21, 2016: Imajin Books]

What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.

Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?

comicalTell me something funny.

A few years ago, a friend asked me to come to her Girl Guide troop’s career night to talk about being a writer. I was ridiculously excited about it. After all, I wanted to be a writer since reading Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery, and I’d been about nine at the time. Maybe I could inspire a young girl!

It turned out that the other career night speaker made dolls. That’s right. Dolls. Dolls who had hair and eyes that could be interchangeable to match their owner’s hair and eyes. Let’s just say I did not have the troop leaning on my every word!

SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle for the special introductory price of .99 (reg. $4.99). Find it here :

Judy Penz Sheluk, Author

The Hanged Man’s Noose (July 2015): Now available at all the usual suspects.

Skeletons in the Attic (coming August 21, 2016)


17 thoughts on “An Interview with Judy Penz Sheluk

  1. Very nice interview, Judy. I especially liked hearing that you also write by the seat of your pants! I’ve tried so many times to outline, but alas, the technique eludes me. So, I place my butt in my chair and wait for my characters to start talking to me, seeing where they are taking me next. On occasion, I do have to rein them in and have a little pow wow with them, but it usually works out to the benefit of all!

    I also tend to read and edit what I wrote the previous session before I jump into the present day’s work. Do you tend to follow that route, or do you simply try to hurry along a first draft and THEN go back to begin editing? My routine seems to work for me. By the time I’ve made my way through the first draft, it’s pretty damn sharp (or so I believe!). I then go through the manuscript however many times it takes to fill-in plot holes, tie up loose ends, and clear up things that I might have left muddled. What is YOUR usual work routine like? Inquiring minds want to know!!!
    Thanks for guest posting, and hurry back soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michael. Nice to meet another pantser. I work very much as you do, which is to read the previous day’s work and edit as I go along. In my day jobs, I’m the editor of a couple of magazines (New England Antiques Journal and Home BUILDER Magazine) and so I just can’t “hurry along” with not attention to detail/errors. I will, however, sometimes put in notes for later research, but I usually get to that during the first draft (this is good to do on days when I’m feeling fidgety about the writing). Like you, my first draft is very clean. On my second draft, I change the font color to blue, and reread, changing to black when I’ve edited a chapter. I find the color change gives me fresh eyes on the words. Once that’s done, I have the book or story printed, and read it that way, making notes on the page. Then I make those changes and that’s usually it. I find reading a print copy very helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, changing font colors . . . I hadn’t thought about that. Think I’ll give it a try. It does seem that the writer’s eye gets careless while rereading his/her own work time after time. Yep, I’m going to try it. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful interview, Judy. I am so with you on pantsing and a chapter a day. Some days I can’t wait to get to the keyboard to see what the characters have been up while I was away! Thank you for the Christie quote. I had it on my wall above my writing desk when I lived in Maine and it somehow got lost in the move. Been looking for it ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for hosting me Kait (and Michael). So nice to meet yet another pantser. And yes, I love that Christie quote. My other favorite is by Erica Jong: “When I sit at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life.”


    1. Thanks Kristina. I think people are fascinated by the writing process. I know whenever I go to an author reading, someone will always ask about it. This is why your posts on writing scenes/characters etc. are so interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. Skeletons in the Attic sounds excellent, Judy. Adding it to my TBR pile. Love your tip about changing font color for editing. I change font, but never considered changing color. I must try that.

    I live in New England. Where’s New England Antiques?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Sue, if you do want to read Skeletons, do pre-order — it’s only .99 on pre-order. The regular price is $4.99 on Kindle. Release date is tomorrow, Aug. 21st.

      The color change to me works better than the font. I use blue and I really do seem to see it differently. The print copy is what really makes me take notice.

      NEAJ is a monthly antiques magazine. I’ve been the Senior Editor there since 2007, even though I live near Toronto — it’s a global world. If you enjoy antiques, contact me on my website (Contact page) with your mailing address and I’ll have someone send you a couple of back issues.

      Thank you for stopping by. I just Liked your FB page! Always nice to meet a fellow author, and I do take author guests on my blog as well, though I’m booked through for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

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