What a pleasure to interview an author who writes both adult mystery novels and books for kids and young adults. Below are Marilyn’s responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and buy links.
First off, congratulations on the release of Dewey Decimated, part of your Haunted Library mystery series. Can you tell our readers about Dewey Decimated and what inspired the series?
Thanks, Lynn. Dewey Decimated is the sixth book in the Haunted Library series. The Clover Ridge Library, which is situated on the Clover Ridge Green, has acquired the building next door. During renovations, a body is discovered. When the workers break through and join the two buildings, the ghost of the dead man enters the library. He is agitated because he has no idea who he is or where he is. Before he can wreak havoc among the patrons, my sleuth Carrie Singleton and Evelyn Havers, the resident ghost, take him in hand and keep him hidden while they try to find out his identity and who murdered him.
The idea for the series came to me when I was at an outdoor event at my library. As the person in charge of adult programs introduced the entertainer, I thought that having my sleuth be a library’s head of programs and events was a great idea. She would have a close group of people she works with yet always have access to new people—presenters and speakers—as possible victims and murderers.
You’ve had a rich and varied writing career, including books in various genres: mystery, romantic suspense, and young adult. What drew you to each of these genres? And do you have a favorite one?
I started writing novels for kids and YAs when my sons were young. Then it seemed natural to write books with children as protagonists. The first book I wrote but was never published was a romantic suspense because I’m drawn to mysteries. Which is why I now write mysteries. I’ve been reading mysteries since elementary school–Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Trixie Belden. Most recently I’ve been focusing on writing mysteries for adults, but I also like to write books for kids occasionally. I have a contract to write four books in my Rufus series.
I noticed that several of your books have a paranormal element. What led you to including the paranormal in your works?
I haven’t the slightest idea why I include a paranormal element in some of my books. It’s something that happens naturally. The second novel I ever wrote that was never published was a book for kids that included ghost children. My mysteries Giving Up the Ghost and the Haunted Library series have ghosts as characters. In Rufus and Magic Run Amok, Rufus discovers he’s a witch like his mother, grandmother, and aunt. He loves trying out his new powers and doesn’t want to tell his family that he has them because they’ll make him take lessons to control his magic and teach him how to use it for good deeds. And where’s the fun in that?
Although you did lots of writing as a child, you first became a Spanish teacher. Has your background in Spanish and teaching influenced your writing in any way?
I’m a Gemini. One of Gemini’s traits is facility with language and communication. I love speaking Spanish and I love writing stories. And once a teacher always a teacher, which is probably why I’ve included discussions of books in a few of my novels.
Each writer I’ve ever talked to has a unique writing process that works for them. Can you share with our readers what your writing process is like?
My most recent books have been series, which makes plotting each new book somewhat easier than if I were writing a standalone. I already have my setting and my characters. I know the growth arc of my protagonist in each book and the story of the series as a whole. The major events simply come to me from knowing my setting and my characters. With my mysteries, I often include a cold case, and I often have two story lines that converge. With each book, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, though I start out knowing the basic story line and themes I want to include in each book.
Did you choose to become an Indie, hybrid, or traditionally published writer? What led to your decision?
I prefer being traditionally published. I want to concentrate on my writing and not have to hire an editor and someone to do my cover., etc. As it is, I need to promote my books, and that takes a lot of time and effort
How has being a cancer survivor influenced your approach to your writing?
I don’t see how it has, though ironically I’ve been most successful since my treatment seven years ago.
What are you currently working on writing-wise?
Right now I’m nearing the end of writing book number seven in the Haunted Library series.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Keep on writing. Join a good critique group. Join one or two writing organizations. Keep on writing.
Thanks for visiting today, Marilyn!
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. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series, the Twin Lakes series, and GIVING UP THE GHOST.
Her juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice. It will soon be reissued, followed by three more books in the series. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards.
Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids
All buy links: bit.ly/3AR5eFd