Guest Chick: Judy Penz Sheluk

Please welcome a blog post from mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk, author of THE HANGMAN’S NOOSE and her brand-new release, SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC. Read about how real-life events inspired some fictional moments in the book.Judy Penz Sheluk

I’d been sitting in the reception area of Hampton & Associates for the better part of an hour when Leith Hampton finally charged in through the main door, his face flushed, a faint scent of sandalwood cologne wafting into the room. He held an overstuffed black briefcase in each hand and muttered an apology about a tough morning in court before barking out a flurry of instructions to a harried-looking associate. A tail-wagging goldendoodle appeared out of nowhere, and I realized the dog had been sleeping under the receptionist’s desk.

That’s the opening scene of my latest mystery novel, SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC. The idea came to me when I was sitting in the reception area of my lawyer’s office. I was waiting with my husband, Mike, and we were there to update our very outdated wills.

Like my opening scene, our lawyer had been delayed in court, and judging from all appearances, the case had not gone well. And like my opening scene, his goldendoodle hung out in the office.

It amused me that my lawyer, who is the very definition of shrewd, would have a goldendoodle in his office. So much so that I wrote this scene:

Atticus took up residence in a chair by the corner. Going by the blanket that covered the fabric, this was his regular seating arrangement. It amused me to think that Leith Hampton, a criminal defense attorney known for his blistering cross-examinations and ruthless antics, both in and out of court, owned a goldendoodle, let alone one that was allowed on the furniture.

Of course, my lawyer doesn’t specialize in criminal law (hey, I write about crimes, I don’t commit them), but the point here is this: Writers get inspiration from everywhere. While Mike was reading back issues of Bicycling Magazine (from which I deduced that our lawyer is also an avid cyclist), I was scribbling notes into my teeny tiny paper notebook I carry everywhere. Before long I was thinking: What if my protagonist inherits a house with strings attached. Major strings? What if those strings include trying to solve a thirty-year-old murder? And Skeletons in the Attic was born.

I’d like to credit my lawyer for the inspiration, but I’m afraid he’ll bill me for it…



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?

Bio: Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Find Judy on her website/blog at, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.

Find Skeletons in the Attic here:

Readers, where do your ideas come from?



2 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Judy Penz Sheluk

    1. Judy, It was great having you on the blog—and thank you for your nice words! Looking forward to reading Skeletons in the Attic!


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