Multi-genre author Marilyn Levinson writes mystery, romantic suspense, and young adult books. Today she sits for an interview. Learn more about Marily at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I started writing fiction when I was in elementary school. I wanted to be an author or a ballerina when I grew up. Writing won out.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
A few years. My first children’s novel, And Don’t Bring Jeremy, was published in 1985.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’ve published with the big houses, with small presses, and I’ve self-published a few novels.
Where do you write?
I write in my office on a large-screen computer.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I prefer writing in silence.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My characters are very real to me. Their personalities reveal themselves as I write their stories, explore their pasts and motivations, relationships and values. They aren’t based on actual people—at least I don’t think they are. I draw on my own life experiences occasionally, but I’m grateful that I haven’t had to deal with actual murders. Therefore, my plots are drawn completely from my imagination.
Describe your process for naming your character?
Having the right name for a character is of utmost importance to me. I’ll often look through a baby-naming book for suggestions. I take into account a name’s meaning and how it sounds. I like feminine names for women characters that lend themselves to nicknames. Alexis is usually called Lexie; Gabriela is called Gabbie.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Many of my novels take place on Long Island because I’ve lived here most of my life. I refer to actual towns and landmarks in my books, but most of the action takes place in villages and communities that can’t be found on any map.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Cameron Leeds, the ghost in Giving Up the Ghost and my WIP, can only appear in the den of the cottage where he used to live. This gives Gabbie, my sleuth who lives in the cottage, an out when she doesn’t feel like dealing with Cam’s investigative suggestions.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
My writing habits aren’t the best. I end up writing feverishly at the end of the day.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. This is an amazing novel with brilliant writing that only a very special person could have written. Roy said she won’t write another novel. I hope she changes her mind.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I wish I’d been more adventuresome when I was a young adult.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I wish authors weren’t in the position of having to sell themselves and their books 24/7. I started publishing when promoting was the publishers’ job, though writers did readings and presentations at libraries, bookstores, and schools. I miss those days.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
A few beloved books (please let that count as one must-have) sunglasses, a garden to grow veggies.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Filing in a bank the summer after high school graduation.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I’ve read so many books I’ve loved, I find it hard to name my favorite. That said, I love Vikram Seth’s novel, A Suitable Boy, which is about four Indian families. One story line is that of a family choosing a suitable husband for their daughter. Though the book has 1,349 pages, I wish Vikram would write a sequel.
Ocean or mountains?
I like to visit both, actually.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
At this time of my life I like the quiet country with occasional visits to the city to visit museums and see an occasional play.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m working on The Return of the Ghost. After that, I’ll write the third book in my young adult Rufus series. The second Rufus book is coming out in a few months.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I love writing novels in three different genres. It’s fun going from the mind of a ten-year-old boy who’s learning to control his magical powers to a woman solving mysteries and enjoying the attention of two male admirers.
The Devil’s Pawn
After fifteen-year-old Simon Porte's family is killed in an automobile crash, his father's brother, whom he's never met, brings Simon to live with him and his wife in upstate New York. Simon doesn't trust Uncle Raymond, and for good reason. Raymond is dying and using his diabolical powers to take over Simon's body. Simon must develop his own supernatural defenses. With his dotty great-aunt, his young sister, and a pair of odd twins, he wages war against the evil Raymond and his cronies.