Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interview with Mystery Author Marilyn Levinson

Mystery Author Marilyn Levinson


Because I joined Sisters in Crime back in 2007, and then the Guppies subgroup (the Great Unpublished), I came to know Marilyn Levinson on the GuppyPressQuest list, those of us looking to publish our mysteries through small presses. I learned that Marilyn had also been a Malice Domestic finalist, and she, too, had failed to get a publishing contract with a big house, even though she, unlike I, had an agent. We had both turned to the small presses, and she found success with a couple of small e-presses, doing electronic books. I asked her to give us more information about her books and her publishing experience. Here’s what she has to say. Her new e-book is called A Murderer Among Us, and is available on Kindle (at, Nook (at Hard copies may be found at Her website is:

 When did you begin writing? Why?

I was an avid reader from the moment I learned to read, which is probably why I started writing stories in the third grade. I still have that notebook filled with stories. I began a novel -- a mystery, I believe -- but since I hadn’t plotted it very well, never got beyond Chapter One.
When and why did you begin writing mysteries?

I’d published several books for children when I started writing mysteries for adults. Actually, I first wrote two romantic suspense novels, then switched to mysteries. Why? I can’t say. I love mysteries because there’s a puzzle and an element of suspense. Why is someone so determined to get rid of someone else, he/she’s willing to do away with that person? And, of course, there’s the satisfying resolution at the end. Justice is served, in most cases.
Is A Murderer Among Us your first mystery? When did you write it? Is it part of a series?

A Murderer Among Us is actually the second mystery I wrote. The first will be published in the spring. I wrote A Murderer Among Us a few years ago. My sleuth is older, kind of like me.<g> Lydia is a widow, which I’m not, and was CEO of her own company, not me, again. She has two grown daughters who always seem to need her mothering. (I have two sons.<g>) I think we write more autobiographically in our first novels. And yes, I’ve written a sequel, called MURDER IN THE AIR.
Tell us about your journey to publication with this book.

I’d sent this book out to traditional publishers and agents. No one seemed interested, so I set it aside and wrote more novels. Then I decided to try epresses. I sent this ms to Wings ePress, and heard back a few weeks later, on April 9th, that they wanted to publish it June first. Wow! A wonderful editor went over the ms, which she felt was very clean. No changes were necessary.
Why did you choose to write about retirees in a gated community?

Good question. I live in a gated community with people of all ages, though many are senior citizens. I chose a retirement community because I feel these days we older folk are vital and full of life. Also, older people have more secrets in their past, which make for interesting characters.

How have you found it to be published by an e-book publisher? Share that experience.

I was pleased that my book came out so quickly, and that it had a great editor and that I had input into the cover -- something I never had with my children’s books. I discovered I had to contact reviewers, do guest blogs, get my name out there. But that’s pretty much what my friends who are published with traditional houses have to do. I was disappointed that the eversion of my book didn’t go immediately to Kindle, as that’s where esales are.
Do you have comments from readers or reviewers you‚d like to share?

Two Wings ePress authors who offered to read and review my book gave me wonderful reviews. Both mentioned not being able to put it down. Fran Lewis has reviewed my book, loved it and has instructed me to send her all future books to read and review. I’ve just sent a PDF copy to a reviewer in Australia, so the book is getting around. And a fellow children’s book writer called today to tell me how much she loved my book, and that she’d mailed it to a mutual friend.
What other books have you published and where, when?

My other books are: AND DON’T BRING JEREMY (Holt) out of print; A PLACE TO START (Atheneum) out of print; THE FOURTH-GRADE FOUR (Holt) out of print; RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK (Marshall Cavendish) was selected by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council for "Children’s Choices for 2002 out of print; and NO BOYS ALLOWED! (Scholastic) -- in print since 1993.
Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series?

I’ve just completed MURDER THE TEY WAY, which is part of a series. The first book in the series, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, was a 2010 Malice Domestic finalist. My sleuth, Lexie Driscoll, leads a Golden Age of Mystery book club, and gets many of her clues from mysteries she reads with the members of her book club.
Tell us your experience as a member of Sisters in Crime, and GuppyPressQuest, in particular. Has that been helpful? How?

I must have joined Sisters in Crime over ten years ago, because I remember being part of a critique group with fellow Guppies then. Did I mention I LOVE the Guppies and have wonderful Guppy friendships? In 2010 I attended Malice for the first time, and came away knowing I wanted to form a Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. Months later I co-founded the group with my friend and fellow author, Bernardine Fagan. Currently, I’m the Prez of LI SinC. As for GuppyPressQuest -- I’ll be sending out MURDER A LA CHRISTIE to small presses, so I look to GuppyPressQuest as the very source I’ll be needing.<g>

What benefit to you has it been to go to mystery conferences like Malice Domestic?

For me, the biggest plus was getting to meet fellow Guppies. Next year I’ll have two mysteries to promote.
What else would like to say about A Murderer Among Us?

I think it’s a quick but provocative read. It’s about new beginnings, murder and mayhem, secrets, and relationships. I love writing relationships, be they romantic, friendship, familiar.


  1. Congratulations on your recent successes, Marilyn! I hope for continued sales and more books!

    Thanks for the interview, Judy.

  2. Wow that's fantastic news about the reviews of your book, Marilyn!!!!! Good luck.

  3. Thanks, Kaye and Donna! Your support and good wishes are much appreciated.

  4. Congratulations, Marilyn! I received about 150 rejection letters for my first book and then it was picked up by an e-publisher who sent me a contract. So, I hear ya'. I don't understand why the traditional agents don't want these books and I know that their money is going to their more established authors. And yet when you read about these agents on their websites they purport to want to help out the unpublished writers. I don't really buy that.

  5. Great news of your success and the info on 'Two Wings'. I'm glad you had a good experience with e-publishing. There are so many out there, it's a mine field. We all need to hear that it can work.

    Thanks and great post.

  6. Great interview! Marilyn, congrats on your book and here's to much success!

  7. Patti, Sandy, and Rhonda,
    Thanks for your good wishes.
    Patti, you'll discover readers will love your book, which will set you wondering even more.