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February 22, 2019

Painter and debut novelist Shelton channels Agatha Christie in this seaside murder mystery set among a group of artists
What inspired you to write Paint Her Dead: Murder at the Inn?

I love to paint and I love a good mystery. I have attended painting workshops in Maine several times. The first time I went to a workshop at Rock Gardens Inn, located about 40 miles north of Portland, I fell in love with the place. I had been thinking that it was reminiscent of an Agatha Christie setting when, one night at dinner, our instructor said the same thing. For a long time after, I thought about writing a book using Rock Gardens as the setting. Three years ago, I started a novel about an artistic murder inspired by this very place. That novel became Paint Her Dead.
What are some of your influences, literary or otherwise, in writing this mystery?

I am an avid reader of mysteries. I've read everything from cozy mysteries by Christie to bone-chilling, bloodcurdling mysteries by Stephen King. I've read biographies of mystery authors and am fascinated by the telling of a good story. It's hard to say what influenced me most in writing Paint Her Dead, but the Maine seaside setting was certainly an inspiration.
Talk to us about how your background as a painter informs your writing process, and vice versa.

I think regardless of whether you write or paint, there is something within you that wants to be expressed, be it in words or pictures. My love of painting and reading, especially mysteries, led to my combining the two. My knowledge of painting helped me fill the story, my first full-length novel, with artistic characters.
To what extent did you draw from real life in Paint Her Dead? What responsibility do you feel to reimagine or change characters who are based on real people?

I drew from real life all through the book. Although I used characteristics of real people, no character is based entirely on one individual.
Who is your ideal reader and why? If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be?

I think anyone who loves a good mystery would be my ideal reader. If I could give my book to anyone, I would give it to Harlan Coben, whose work I admire.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers, other writers, booksellers, publishers, or agents about you or your book?

Readers will find Paint Her Dead full of twists and turns that will keep them guessing until the end. They will also be transported to this quaint and lovely inn, located on a beautiful bay in Maine.