Penny Freedman has taught English and Drama in schools, colleges and universities. Her experience as director of English Language courses for overseas students forms the background to her murder mystery, 'This is a Dreadful Sentence'.
She has always been an enthusastic amateur director and actress and has had short stories and theatre criticism published. Her book on Shakespeare's language was published in 2007.
She has two grown-up daughters and now lives with her husband in Stratford-upon-Avon, where she writes and lectures on Shakespeare in performance.
'This is a Dreadful Sentence' is her first novel but there is a sequel to follow and she plans further Gina Gray mysteries to come.
Penny Freedman found the idea for 'This is a Dreadful Sentence' when she was teaching English at a college in Kent and noticed a kitchen knife lying on one of the bookshelves in the library. This picture lodged in her mind and came out years later as a new twist on the classic 'body in the library' plot: a foreign student is found stabbed and crushed to death in a college library.
Penny says, 'Once I had my plot, I knew I wanted to create a female sleuth who wasn't a superwoman but a real woman whose life readers would recognise and sympathise with.' And so she created Gina Gray, a forty-something divorcee with two daughters, one a stroppy teenager and the other a single mother frequently looking to Gina to step in and mind the baby. 'I had a picture in my mind,' Penny says, 'of a woman who does her investigating while pushing a baby in a buggy. And however exciting or scary her investigation gets, she still has to fit in trips to the supermarket. I find that readers like Gina because she's real and because she's brave and funny and speaks her mind.'