Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Interview with Judy Penz Shulak

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?

A Hole in One, which is the second book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery Series. The first was The Hanged Man's Noose. I also have one book out in my Marketville Mystery Series, Skeletons in the Attic. (For a review of Skeletons in the Attic, click here.) The sequel to that should be out later this year. And I’ve got 2 collections of three short stories, as well as some stories in anthologies.

How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve been writing stories in my head since I was a young kid walking to school, though I only started to write them down in the early 2000s, when I took a Creative Writing course. But the stories were always inside of me.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
The life of an author? I can only tell you what the day in my life is like — and it depends. I don’t do well trying to work with a structured word count, but when I’m working on a book, I’ll aim for a chapter a day and write every day, including weekends. But it doesn’t always work out that way. My best time to write is morning, but I’ve written late into the night as well. I edit as I go along, so my first draft is usually pretty clean. But the self-editing can also mean that I backtrack a lot.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I never know what’s going to happen until I’m well into the final third of the book. I’m a complete pantser. I come up with a premise and then just build on it from there. For example, with The Hanged Man's Noose, the premise is greedy developer comes to town with plans to build a megabox store, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the indie shops on historic Main Street. I simply took that premise and asked, “What if someone was willing to kill to stop him?”

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
My primary locations are loosely based on places I’ve lived. Lount’s Landing is based on Holland Landing, Ontario, and Marketville is based on Newmarket, Ontario. But I’ve taken great liberties with the setting. The people are completely fictionalized, though they may have the odd character trait of mine, or someone I’ve observed. For example, Callie Barnstable (Skeletons) is addicted to cocoa butter lip balm. Guilty!

Who is your favorite author?
I have so many, it’s hard to narrow it down. I loved Sue Grafton and read every one of her books. Her passing has left a deep void in the mystery community. For pacing, you cannot beat John Sandford’s Prey or Flowers series. I’m also a huge fan of Fiona Barton, who came on the scene in 2016 to well deserved acclaim. I could go on and on — I’m an avid reader. Reading in the best teacher.

How do you promote your books?
My website. Blogs like this one are huge for getting the word out. Facebook is very strong, and to a lesser extent Twitter. Pinterest is fun, but not a great marketing tool. I also do a few events in the spring and summer, bookstores and fairs, and I usually attend one writing conference, like Bouchercon or Malice Domestic, each year. This year is an exception — I’m not doing a conference because I’m hoping to do 2-3 next year.

You can find out more about me and my books at Here’s a link to my Amazon page:

1 comment:

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Thanks for showcasing my latest release! I'm happy to answer any questions from your readers.