Researching Tarot for Skeletons In The Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk on Tarot

Judy Penz ShelukIf you’ll pardon the pun, tarot was never in the cards when I began writing Skeletons in the Attic. I knew I’d have a protagonist, Calamity (Callie) Barnstable, who would be thrust into the position of finding out what happened when her mother disappeared thirty years earlier. I knew she’d be a fish out of water, a big city Toronto woman heading to Marketville, a town she described as the sort of place a family with two kids, a cat and a collie moved to. I even knew there was a scheming psychic, Misty Rivers, ready to take on Callie’s assignment if Callie turned it down. But my original thinking was more along the line of a crystal ball and tea leaves. Tarot? Not on the radar.

And then one day I walked into a quirky little gift shop attached to a large natural foods store. Among the crystals, crosses, and tie-dyed t-shirts there was a section on tarot. I found myself inexplicably drawn to the vibrant images on the Rider-Waite deck. What can I say? I walked out of the store that day with a deck of tarot cards and a book on how to read them, followed by countless trips to my local library to find out more. [Readers of Skeletons might recognize the setting of the gift shop in the book; in the novel it’s called Sun, Moon & Stars, a fictitious name.]

To say that I was naïve might be putting a gloss on things. Several sample readings, online research and how-to books later, I was no further to being an accomplished tarot card reader than I was ready to become an astronaut.

And that’s when I knew it would work. While searching the house she inherited from her father, Callie would find five tarot cards, and those cards, in addition to a basic understanding of the principles behind them, would be a matter of individual interpretation.

If you’re the curious sort (and if you read mysteries, you must be), these are the cards that Callie found:

Tarot1) III: The Empress

2) IV: The Emperor

3) VI: The Lovers

4) The Three of Swords

5) XIII: Death

What did they mean, and how do they impact Callie’s investigation? Ah…you’ll have to read (or listen) to the book to find out. The good news is it’s available in all e-book formats (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, GooglePlay, iBooks), trade paperback, and audiobook. Now go ahead, and pick a card… any card…


Skeletons CoverWhat 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?


Find out more about Judy and her books at


Find the book at all the usual suspects, including the publisher, Barking Rain Press.



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