Edith here, who can’t believe it’s December already. I’m delighted to have Canadian mystery author Judy Penz Sheluk as our guest today to kick off the last month of 2016. Judy and I each had our debut novels published by Barking Rain Press, and we’ve both spread our wings and flown farther afield since. I recently read her latest, Skeletons in the Attic, and loved it. Take it away, Judy!
When fellow Sister in Crime Edith Maxwell invited me to post on Wicked Cozy Authors, my first thought was, “but I’m not a regional author. I’m not from New England.”
That led me to think…what exactly is a regional author? While I personally don’t think someone has to be born and bred in a particular area to write about it—especially in our Internet world where we can travel virtually—it is vital to get the details right. Readers will be quick to point out any inaccuracies. That said, the setting in a novel should be treated as another (important) character. As writers, it is our responsibility to create a world that readers can believe in. A good book is like a passport to another place— not just the major landmarks, but also the tucked away places only the locals know about.
It’s also important to layer in regional idiosyncrasies. For example, a visitor to Toronto, Canada, will call it TOE-RON-TOE, each syllable clearly defined. A native Torontonian will call it TORAWNNO (spoken quickly; Torontonians speak really, really fast; there’s no southern drawl north of the border!). Those same visitors will also find a myriad of Tim Horton’s coffee shops. Canadians love their “Timmy’s.”
Agatha Christie was the master of creating atmosphere and place, whether she was at the English seaside, or solving a murder in Mesopotamia. I’ve never been to Minnesota, but when I sit down to read the latest John Sandford novel, I feel as if I’m returning to familiar territory. Tana French has helped me discover Dublin. And anyone who’s read Louise Penny has visited Three Pines, even though it’s a fictional town in Quebec.
The following shot is Newmarket’s historic Main Street. Marketville, the town in Skeletons in the Attic, is loosely based on Newmarket. The historic Main Street in Judy’s book, The Hanged Man’s Noose, is also loosely based on this street.
But what about me, and my novels? If I’m talking to a fellow Canadian, I’ll say, “My books are set in fictional towns north of Toronto,” whereas if I’m speaking to an American, I’ll say they take place in fictional towns in Canada. That’s probably because, if I am talking to someone in the U.S., they will invariably say, “Oh, I love Canada. I was there last year.” It may be they were in Vancouver, British Columbia (about 3,000 miles away from Toronto), or Montreal, Quebec (about 350 miles away), but it’s all Canada! Whereas, a Canadian will never say, “I was in the U.S. last year.” They’ll say, “I was in Chicago,” (or Dallas or Boston.)
Above is Judy’s one-year-old Golden Retriever, Leroy Jethro “Gibbs” at her cottage (sometimes called a camp) on Lake Superior, near Sault Ste. Marie, in Northern Ontario. A regional difference: the US/Michigan side of the area is known as the Upper Peninsula.
I find it an amusing distinction…but it’s also much more than that. When I’m writing, I need to be ever diligent when it comes to introducing my readers to the world that I’ve created. Then again, the same came be said for any “regional” author…whether they’re in Canada, California, or New England.
Readers: Do you have a favorite regional author or region you like to read about?
SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC
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?
Skeletons in the Attic is on a .99 promotional sale from December 1 through 15 on Amazon Kindle. It is also available on Kindle Unlimited and in trade paperback at all the usual suspects. Paperback: http://www.imajinbooks.com/skeletons-in-the-attic
An Amazon International Bestselling Author, 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 several anthologies. 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 www.judypenzsheluk.com, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life.