I’m so delighted to welcome Marilyn Levinson back to my blog. Today is the re-release date for her young adult novel, THE DEVIL’S PAWN. Horror is not one of the genres I generally read, but I absolutely loved this book. And I’m in awe of Marilyn who has not one book coming out this year, but eight!
Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio and contact links:
First off, congratulations on the re-release of your young adult novel, THE DEVIL’S PAWN. Can you share with our readers a bit about the story and what inspired it?
Thank you, Lynn! I love this story, but I have no idea what inspired me to write it. Simon Porte is a fifteen-year-old boy who finds himself alone after his parents and little sister die in a car crash. An uncle he’s never met takes Simon to live in upstate New York where he knows no one. His Uncle Raymond is evil. Because he is dying, Raymond has set out to extend his life by inhabiting Simon’s body. Simon must draw on his own strength and resilience, and befriend people he can trust to fight his evil uncle and his henchmen.
Recently, I learned that you had eight books coming out this year! Can you tell us how that came about, and how you’re managing not to lose your mind launching eight titles?
I’ve calmed down somewhat because I’ve told myself I’ll figure out how to promote these books, which are in different genres. Three of the books are new and five are being republished. 2024 is going to be a busy year for me.
Today is THE DEVIL’S PAWN’s book birthday. It’s published by Level Best Books, who is also publishing my middle grade Rufus and Magic Run Amok series. RUFUS AND THE WITCH’S DRUDGE, the second Rufus book, will come out in early April.
Rowan Prose Publishing, a brand new publishing house, is publishing my romantic suspense COME HOME TO DEATH April 30th. They are also republishing the two books in my Golden Age of Mystery Book club mysteries: MURDER A LA CHRISTIE May 28th and MURDER THE TEY WAY July 16. One of the founders, Kelly Moran, was familiar with my books.
On August 6th, BOOKED ON MURDER, the eighth and final book in my Haunted Library series has its book birthday.
I’d like to add that my short story, “Stabbed in the Heart,” will appear in the anthology FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MURDER some time in 2024.
THE DEVIL’S PAWN originally came out in 2015. When you came back to the novel, did you find there were any changes you wanted or needed to make for a re-release in 2024?
Not really, other than making sure all the electronics were up to date. The emotions and relationships hadn’t changed. Of course, I caught a few typos and minor errors this time around.
You started out writing award-winning novels for young people and then began writing award-winning adult mysteries, including the Haunted Library Mystery Series, the Twin Lakes Mysteries, and the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries. What led you to make the jump from writing for young people to mysteries for adults?
My books for young people weren’t selling well so I decided to write mysteries since I love to read them.
Several authors have told me they’d be afraid to tackle writing for young people because they weren’t confident they could “get the voice right.” This is clearly not an issue for you! You beautifully capture the voices of your youthful characters. Do you think this is because of your years in the classroom teaching Spanish as well as your experience raising children? Or something else?
Thank you, Lynn. I think so many factors play a role in our writing process, it’s difficult to know where they originate. When I’m in the writing zone, ideas fill my head; words and expressions I hardly ever use come to mind. I’m sure that having been a teacher and raised two sons influence my writing. Also, there’s the child that still resides in each of us that needs to be heard. I’m sure mine is very active when I’m writing a book with characters who are kids.
Can you describe your writing process? And is it different depending on whether you’re writing books for young people or for adults?
I start a book with a major idea or premise and go from there. My characters are most important to me, and I get to know them better as I write. My setting is very important to me as well, and getting that right can take some time.
My writing process is the same, whether the book is for adults or for kids. I get into the mindset of the main character and go from there. The difference is my books for adults have plotlines that are more complicated.
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I’ve just started writing the first book in a new cozy mystery series. It takes place on an island I’ve created that’s situated in the middle of the Long Island Sound between New York and Connecticut. I also have to get to work on the third Rufus book. Rufus’s uncle, a powerful and evil witch, turns up and tries to entice him to become his heir instead of using his powers to do good deeds like his mother, grandmother and aunt.
What steps did you take to develop your craft as a writer? And a related question: What advice would you give aspiring mystery authors?
I kept on writing. There were many years when I’d get rejection after rejection and I wasn’t sure why. But I persevered, and things changed when DEATH OVERDUE was published. Suddenly, I had written the first book in a series that became very popular. I think persevering is the most important thing a writer can do. And at the same time knowing when to listen to criticism and when to follow one’s own intuition.
You’re a multi-published successful author. Is there anything you wish you’d known about building a writing career when you started out?
It’s difficult to say because when I started to write, the computer was first becoming a popular writing tool. The easy communication we now have via the internet and social media simply wasn’t available then. I think the one thing I wish I had known was that if I’d keep at it, I would have some degree of success.
Is there anything you’d like to add, Marilyn, or wish I’d asked but I didn’t?
I can’t think of anything, Lynn, except to thank you for having me as your guest again. ❤️
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. Booked on Murder, the eighth book in the series, will be published in August, 2024. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series, the Twin Lakes series, and Giving Up the Ghost. Her romantic suspense, Come Home to Death, will be released April 30, 2024, and her romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations, will be republished in 2025.
Marilyn’s juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice and has recently come out in a new edition. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards. Her YA horror, The Devil’s Pawn, is out in a new edition in 2024.
Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids and playing with her kittens, Romeo and Juliet.