Miami Interview #20

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This interview has me so excited that I’ve stopped worrying about Tropical Storm Ericka. I’m not actually worried as Floridians don’t worry about tropical storms but we do watch the weather reports like hawks watching a chicken coop. Back to the interview — Judy Sheluk beyond being a mystery writer is also an antique junkie like me! She actually works (Senior Editor) for the New England Antiques Journal. I would love to go antique-ing with her. I wonder if I can get her down to Miami for the Miami Beach Antique Show? What do you say Judy? Don’t you need to do some field research for your next book?

Judy and I are both members of Sisters in Crime and that is how I came to know  her. First through her short story “Plan-D” in the Toronto Chapter’s The Whole She-Bang 2.  And then by her full-length novel that was released in July of this year. I think you will enjoy getting to know Judy as much as I have — Tropical Storm or not!

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Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.

I was fourteen the first time I visited Miami, and I was with my mother. I’d never seen an ocean before. I remember charging into the water, my mouth wide open—the way I would into a freshwater lake—and being shocked when it tasted salty. I knew, of course, that the ocean had salt water, but I’d never really thought about how it would taste. I loved walking along the beach and picking up seashells, loved the sound of the waves when I was trying to fall asleep at night.
The next time I went to Miami, I was eighteen. I went with a girlfriend during March break. We met a couple of local guys on the beach and I remember that one of them asked us if we had igloos in Toronto! I replied, “Yup, and we eat whale blubber for dinner.” He laughed and said in Florida the women carried “live alligator handbags.”

What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?

I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but I loved John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books. I read every book in that series. Living on a boat—are you kidding me? I grew up in Toronto, Canada. No one lives on a boat (okay, maybe for a month or two in the summertime, but certainly not for 12 months of the year). I also thoroughly enjoyed Ed McBain’s Matthew Hope novels. I’ve never been to the Florida Keys, but I would love to visit there some day.

Tell us about your writing and main characters.

The simplest way is to provide a brief synopsis of The Hanged Man’s Noose, which I like to describe as “amateur sleuth with an edge.”:

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of an antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.
But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.
Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme—before the murderer strikes again.

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Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?

They would definitely dive right in. Emily Garland is a journalist, a triathlete, and an avid golfer. Miami would be the perfect place for her to live, work, and play. There’s an event, Escape to Miami Triathlon; it sounds like something she’d love to participate in.
Arabella Carpenter would embrace Miami’s vibrant antiques culture. For example, The Original Miami Beach Antiques Show. As the world’s largest indoor antique show, the Show presents nearly 1,000 recognized dealers from 28 countries for five days every January/February. The show offers everything from Renaissance to Art Deco to fine art, American and European silver, antique jewelry, 17th-19th century furniture to porcelain and more.

Be sure to follow Judy on Facebook and twitter. Find out about her latest adventures on her website http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/

Judy, we no longer carry live alligators but we do still have plenty of them in every canal and spit of water. Come on down whenever you get tired of your igloo. <wink>

 

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Miami Interview # 19

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Joan Leotta and I crossed paths due to poetry not mystery. Oh, we both write mysteries but it was via a comment I made about my newly published chapbook that got us talking about Miami. Joan is a writer of short stories, romantic mysteries, poetry and more. She and I are members of Sisters in Crime/Guppies and her short story appears in their latest anthology, Fish or Cut Bait. I stock my Nook with short story collections for 15 minutes reads and I can’t wait to read Joan’s contribution, Egidio Decides to Fish.

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1. Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.
My encounter with the Magic City was during its down time—around 1961. My grandmother took me to Miami. In the 1930s she and my grandfather spent all of February in Miami every year. A widow since the late 40s she wanted to see Miami again. I think we stayed in one of the old hotels from the art deco days, but it was in decline. What was not in decline, tho and was absolutely wonderful was Wolfie’s! We could walk to it/ And we ate breakfast or lunch there every day. I was 13 and I loved it—the wait staff fussed over my Grandmother and treated me like a little princess. The sandwiches were gigantic. The walk along the palm trees to get there from the hotel, the hotel pool—all of that was fun. Grandma loved seeing her old haunts but was a bit sad they were run down.
In later years when she heard the city had become a Cuban enclave she was excited and wanted to go again, but she became ill before she could explore the new Latin beat of Miami—she loved experiencing new cultures, new places, and even tho Miami was on the decline, I have inherited her love for the city and cant wait to experience it today—Avenue Ocho, here I come!

2. What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?
All of Edna Buchanan’s Britt Montero books—but if pushed to name just one, I would say Act of Betrayal because it sets Brit on a path to discover some new information about her Dad (deceased). I admit that one of my fave parts of each novel is Montero’s frequent stops for Cuban coffee—I can practically taste it!

 

3. Tell us about your writing and main characters.
I’m an eclectic writer—journalism,(lots of food and travel, formerly more business), poet and short story writer, (a collection of my short stories, Simply a Smile is now available) picture book author, (Whoosh is coming out in August) and the author of a four part series called Legacy of Honor , women’s fiction, historical, light romance. The series traces the contributions of an Italian American Family to our national history—through the women. The struggles of Giulia in desiring to leave the nest to help the war effort in World War Two are followed by her younger sister’s romance with a Korean War soldier and her own desire for schooling. Giulia’s daughter becomes a nurse and goes to Vietnam in book three, and in book four, Giulia’s granddaughter apprentices as a journalist with her father’s cousin in Rome and in the process discovers secrets about her own family and uncovers an art smuggling ring taking advantage of the chaos of the First Gulf War to loot items of value in Kuwait.

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4. Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?
My main characters, in each of the books would love Miami—especially the Miami of today with its Latin beat—These strong women would relate to strong Latina counterparts and conversely I think the women and young girls of Miami would enjoy my heroines—strong women who balance love of family with talents, desire to serve their country with their talents and intelligence and balance that need to serve family with the need to find and define themselves and their future path.
In Italian we say, una faccia, una razza, one face, one race—so I and my heroines, all of us Southern European, all of us having confronted difficulties because of our coloring, our cultural distinctiveness, and our immigration, would feel right at home in Miami. VIVA!

 

Find Joan Leotta on Facebook.

And find her latest novel, Secrets of the Heart on Amazon [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] .