Interview: Marilyn Levinson

Please welcome Marilyn Levinson, author of the Twin Lakes mystery series and the forthcoming Murder a la Christie, as well several YA and children’s books.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A perfect day would be a day in June—my birth month—that’s warm and sunny, but not blazing hot. I would write some pages in the morning, go to a museum or for a walk in the park with a friend, receive word in the afternoon that I’ve sold a book, tgettingbackhen go out to dinner with loved ones at a beautiful, sedate restaurant on the water where we would drink good wine, enjoy a delicious meal, and partake in stimulating conversation.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Not really. I love fragrances that are floral but not too sweet, like Dolce & Gabbana’s The One and Davidoff’s Cool Water. I love good food (see above), especially seafood and fish. I enjoy many ethnic cuisines: Thai, Argentinian, Spanish, Mexican, Peruvian, French, Belgian, and of course Chinese and Italian.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
First to come to mind is my dear friend and fellow writer, Roberta Gellis, with whom I took a writing course many, many years ago. Roberta helped me complete my first novel and has been my greatest supporter. My fourth grade teacher encouraged me. I remember her sending me to another class to read a composition. Last but not least, I’d have to say my dearly departed husband, Bernie, because he was always proud of my being a writer.

Do you listen to music when you write?
No, I don’t, unless you count the birds chirping outside my open window.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Dark Belgian chocolate, my favorite, with veins of white chocolate running through it. Murder a la Christie takes place in an upscale community called Old Cadfield, which is a closed community like the small village settings in Agatha Christie’s novels. My sleuth, Professor Lexie Driscoll who facilitates the Golden Age of Mystery book club, finds herself housesitting in Old Cadfield, and living in a home she could never afford. She is an outsider observing the suspects that include her best friend who’s married to one of Lexie’s castoff college boyfriends. Though the residents of Old Cadfield are wealthy, they all have secrets and problems their money can’t resolve. The white veins are the happy elements that appear in Lexie’s life: an unexpected inheritance and two very different men she finds appealing.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I’m a former high school teacher, and I’ve taught literature, which is probably why I occasionally write novels in which my characters discuss classic short stories and novels. In Murder a la Christie, the book club members discuss some of Dame Agatha’s novels. I had her books in mind when I created the setting and wrote the dénouement of Murder a la Christie.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Relationships. Human nature fascinates me, and I love writing about diverse three-dimensional characters. People are most interesting when they’re relating to one another. Every character has a secret that may implicate him or her in the murders. Romance always makes an appearance in my mysteries. In fact, Lexie has two admirers in Murder a la Christie. I also explore her relationship with her best friend, Rosie. For the first time since college, they’re living in the same community. Lexie sees a different side of Rosie.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
I love Lexie because of her quirks. She is an intelligent, independent woman, but she hasn’t been wise when it comes to choosing men. Her first husband left her when she was pregnant with their son. Her second husband proved unstable. When Lexie told him the marriage was over, he burned down her house and failed to escape the fire. Lexie is left homeless and with very little savings. She finds herself housesitting in Old Cadfield, where her college roommate now lives with her husband, a boyfriend Lexie once rejected. Lexie muses she could be living the good life if she hadn’t broken up with Hal.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I really can’t think of 3 people Rosie is like. Perhaps Addison in Family Practice would be one of them. Addison is beautiful, intelligent, but with human failings.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Agatha Christie
  • Josephine Tey
  • Sue Grafton
  • Ross Macdonald
  • John Macdonald

What’s next for you?
I need to go over three novels: a YA horror called The Devil’s Pawn, a sequel to Rufus and Magic Run Amok called Rufus and the Witch’s Slave, and a romantic suspense called Come Home to Death. Then I intend to either write a new mystery in my Twin Lakes mysteries series or write a proposal for a new series.

***

I was born in Brooklyn, New York. When I was fourteen, my family moved to Long Island where I’ve lived ever since, except for the four years I spent at Syracuse University studying to become a Spanish teacher. When my two sons were very young, I wrote YA and children’s books. Rufus and Magic Run Amok was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council “Children’s Choice.” Now I also write mysteries and romantic suspense. A Murderer Among Us, the first in my Twin Lakes mysteries was awarded a Best Indie of 2011 by Suspense Magazine. I’ve two new books coming out in the next few months: Murder a la Christie, a mystery, with L&L Dreamspell, and a young YA novel, Getting Back to Normal, with Untreed Reads.

I am co-founder and past-president of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Please visit my website: www.marilynlevinson.com or my Amazon page: http://amzn.to/K6Md1O  for a list of all my titles. You can also find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts  and Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson

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25 thoughts on “Interview: Marilyn Levinson”

  1. Thanks for stopping! I love the image of the dark chocolate with “lines of happiness” through it. And who hasn’t looked at an old flame and thought, “I could’ve…” (either good or bad)?

  2. Great, great interview! I love the six writers for dinner party. I immediately started thinking who I would want to invite. Dame Agatha would definitely be among them but I would have a hard time picking out five more among so many favorites.

  3. Thanks, Lisa. There are many parallels between Dame Agatha’s books and Murder a la Christie. Also, the book club members discuss various Christie novels at their meetings.

  4. Hi Marilyn, I love your chocolate bar. The novel and series sounds great. I adore English professors who also write mysteries. ♥ My husband was born in Brooklyn, then raised in the Bronx.

  5. I loved the interview and cannot wait for the books to come out. I love mysteries and your books are exactly what I am looking for!

  6. Thanks for a wonderful interview, Marilyn! I can’t wait to read Murder a la Christie: Professor Lexie Driscoll and the Golden Age of Mystery book club sound fantastic.

    (Btw, I love how you talked about your husband being proud of you–and I’m so sorry for your loss.)

  7. So glad you visited and like Lexie. The sleuths in my novels are like dear friends to me. While Lexie goes about solving the murders in Murder a la Christie, she experiences many upheavals–both good and bad–in her personal life.

  8. Cynthia,
    Thank you so much for having me visit. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Lexie and Murder a la Christie.
    And many thanks for your words of sympathy. This has been quite a year for me.

  9. Hi Marilyn. I took a short break from my WIP which turned into a much longer break because I couldn’t stop reading A MURDERER AMONG US. It was terrific and I’m looking forward to reading the new series as well. BTW, my daughter and I once purchased 5 pounds of dark Belgian chocolate in Bruges as gifts. Unfortunately the temperature rose to 95 degrees and we were forced (LOL) to eat al of it before it melted!

  10. Cindy,
    I’m delighted that you enjoyed A Murderer Among Us. Untreed Reads is bringing out a new edition of A Murderer Among Us and its sequel, Murder in the Air, in a few months.
    I love Bruges. Years ago I bought a beautiful designer’s tapestry pocketbook there, and I still love it. Five pounds of chocolate!! A chocoholic’s fantasy.

  11. Excellent interview, Marilyn. I find it interesting when writers step out from behind their books and reveal themselves. Best wishes for many more great books.

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