A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. Learn more about her and her books at her website and the third Thursday of every month at the Writers Who Kill blog.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
In elementary school. I wanted to be a fiction writer or a ballerina. You know which one won out.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
A few years.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published but ended up indie-publishing a few books myself after problems with a few small presses arose.
Where do you write?
In my office at my desktop.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I write in silence.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My life is rather dull so I can't draw on it for plot inspiration. My characters are purely my creation. That said, I've discovered that "real life" has a way of sneaking in and influencing what we write. A few books into the series I realized that the name of one of my main characters was the same as that of someone I knew many years ago.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I sound out the name in my mind to see if it suits my character. I try not to name my characters with similar-sounding names and do my best to make sure that the names of the major characters begin with different letters.
Real settings or fictional towns?
I always set my books in fictional towns. I place them in a very real location on the map surrounded by actual places and landmarks.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Carrie Singleton, my sleuth in the Haunted Library series, never knows when Evelyn Havers, the ghost, will show up at the library. Though Carrie has asked more than once, Evelyn won't say where she keeps her extensive wardrobe or who styles her hair.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
It takes me quite a while before I can settle down to write each day.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. This is one of my favorite books. It's loosely based on Seth's family. I marvel at his enormous cast of characters that follows the members of four families and their entwined lives in India at the time of Partition. It's 1,349 pages long. When I finished reading it, I yearned for a sequel.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I think I would have been more adventurous when I was in my twenties. I wish I hadn't worried so about my future life.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I'm not a very patient person, so I'm not great at waiting.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Books to read or listen to, food to prepare and cook, writing implements so I could write books or simply keep a journal.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Doing clerical work in a bank.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
A Suitable Boy and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth.
Ocean or mountains?
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
Country gal with the occasional visit to the city.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I've just finished Dewey Decimated, the next book in the Haunted Library series. It's scheduled to come on in the fall of 2022.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I'm hoping my children's book Rufus and Magic Run Amok will be republished and that I will be writing more books in that series.
Death on the Shelf
A Haunted Library Mystery, Book 5
Clover Ridge librarian Carrie Singleton is thrilled to attend her best friend Angela's wedding, but Angela's family can be a bit...much. Angela’s wealthy cousin Donna hosts an extravagant bridal shower at her resplendent home, but the celebrations turn to gossip as the guests notice Donna's surgeon husband, Aiden, spending a bit too much time with Donna’s cousin Roxy. At the wedding reception, the sweet occasion turns darkly bitter when Aiden topples into the chocolate fountain--dead.