Welcome Back to Birds and Books, Writer Judy Penz Sheluk

I'm so pleased to have Judy as a guest on Birds and Books and to share her exciting news! Her debut amateur sleuth mystery, The Hanged Man's Noose (Barking Rain Press) was released on July 25 and is available in print and eBook from all the usual suspects. Amateur sleuths come from all walks of life, they are usually female, and are always likeable no matter what trouble they stir up while solving the who-done-its in their world. To learn more about Judy's sleuth, Emily Garland, read what Judy has to say.

It’s time to get your protagonist, Emily Garland, out of her comfort zone, if solving murders can be called as a comfort zone. You want to present her with a challenge and you’ve given her the following choices, which would she choose: climb Mount Everest; run a Marathon; trek across the Sierra Desert with a tribe of nomads; or sail around the world alone?
Emily is already a runner and has completed the Toronto marathon (there is a brief mention of that in The Hanged Man’s Noose), so that’s out. Heights make her a bit nervous and thanks to a recent experience (also in the Noose), she’s not in any hurry to get back into a boat. I’m going to send her on a trek across the Sierra Desert, albeit with a guide. She may be a runner, but she’s not known for her sense of direction.
If Emily could live in another time period, which would she choose and why?
She and her mother used to watch My Fair Lady together, the 1964 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison, and Emily knows the words to every song in that movie by heart. So I think Emily would enjoy living in the time when movie musicals were still big, but beginning to come to the end of their glory days. The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Mary Poppins. It’s hard to say how her career as a journalist would have survived the same time; it was definitely a man’s world in the sixties. Then again, Gloria Steinem broke through in the late sixties/early seventies. Why not Emily?
If Emily could change anything in her life, what would it be and why?
The last words Emily spoke to her mother were in anger. The next day, Emily’s mother was found dead. The cause of death ruled an accidental overdose, though Emily believed it was suicide. Emily would do anything retract those last angry words and bring her mother back. Her guilt over her mother’s suicide is actually an underlying premise in The Hanged Man’s Noose.
Emily is an amateur sleuth. What famous amateur sleuth would she compare herself to?
I’m not sure she’d compare herself to anyone, but she loves Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Kinsey is also a runner, single, and in her thirties, so they have that much in common.  And neither puts a high emphasis on fashion.
If you and Emily had an argument, who would win and why?
Me, of course, since I write every word that Emily says! I wish I could say that my characters “write their own dialogue,” as happens to some authors (or so I’ve read), but that hasn’t been my experience. I do sense when something I’ve written isn’t true to a character, but they definitely don’t take over and start typing. Usually they just stop communicating to me altogether (a condition also known as writer’s block).
What’s in store for Emily in your next mystery?
My next mystery is Skeletons in the Attic, which I’m almost ready to send out into the world for publishing consideration. Arabella Carpenter, Emily’s sidekick in The Hanged Man’s Noose, 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.
Read the first 4 chapters of The Hanged Man’s Noose free and receive a 35% off coupon to buy the book! http://barkbks.me/1bLqA9Q

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