Saturday, December 18, 2010

Interview of Marilyn Levinson!

This article appeared in the Long Island Romance Writers' newsletter recently and we're proud to present it here. It features Donna Coe-Vellerman interviewing our own Marilyn.

As you'll read below, Marilyn has been busy founding a new Sisters in Crime chapter!


Featuring Marilyn Levinson

By Donna Coe-Velleman

Donna Coe-Velleman - You wrote stories while in high school until an English teacher discouraged you. When you were pregnant with your second child you decided to take a writing course which you weren’t happy with. How did you go from that point to having AND DON’T BRING JEREMY published?

Marilyn Levinson - When my children were young, I took a few writing courses; I wrote poems and short stories. I took a writing course with Roberta Gellis, and we became very good friends. Roberta helped me write my first novel -- a romantic suspense whose premise came to me in a dream. Then I wrote a children's novel. Roberta thought I had a good voice for children's books, and so I wrote a third AND DON'T BRING JEREMY, based on a short story I'd written. I kept sending out my manuscripts, and an editor was very interested in JEREMY. At which time I contacted an agent for a second or third time, and she took me on. A different editor bought the book, and Holt published it.

Velleman - What was one of the hardest things you had to overcome during that period?

Levinson - I suppose the hardest thing was to keep writing despite rejections.

Velleman - After your first publication you went on to have four more juvenile and YA novels published. How did that make you feel?

Levinson - I was glad to sell each book, of course, but once I sold JEREMY and the book received its share of recognition, I had the mistaken idea that every manuscript I wrote would sell. This didn't happen.

Velleman – That must have been a real eye opener. How did you handle that? What did you do?

Levinson - I continued writing. What's the alternative? And I was also either teaching Spanish or subbing in local high schools and middle schools.

Velleman - Do you feel it's harder to break into the YA market or adult mystery?

Levinson - I think each is difficult. For many years, picture books flourished and YAs didn't do well. Now they're back, more popular than ever.

Velleman - Which do you prefer to write mysteries or juvenile/YA?

Levinson - I enjoy writing both. Maybe it's because I raised two sons that four of my juvenile/YA's are told from a boy's point of view. When I write an adult mystery, my sleuth is always a woman.

Velleman - You now write mystery cozies one of which finaled in the Malice Domestic. Does that mean you’re not writing YA anymore?

Levinson - I'll continue to write books for kids when an idea strikes.

Velleman - Can you tell us a little bit about Sisters in Crime and your new chapter?

Levinson - I've belonged to Sisters in Crime, a national organization for mystery writers, for nine or ten years, and to the Guppies -- the SinC online group of prepubbed and newly pubbed writers. It's so friendly and supportive, that when writers start to sell their books, they don't leave the Guppies. We have many subgroups, and some of my dearest friends are fellow Guppies whom I finally met face-to-face this past spring when I attended my first Malice Domestic convention.

I've always lamented the fact there's not a group for mystery writers here on Long Island.

I love my fellow LIRWs, but my concerns are murderers and alibis rather than sexual tension. At Malice, I spoke to a few Sisters who had started a chapter, and I received further help when I got home. I asked my friend, Bernardine Fagan if she would like to co-found a LI chapter, and felt great relief when she said yes. We got a list of names of Sisters in Crime members who live in the area, and started setting up meetings. I was delighted when Hank Phillippi Ryan, a fellow Guppy with several mystery awards to her name along with 26 Emmys for her TV investigative reporting, offered to come to Long Island to be our first speaker. She'll be talking at the Sachem Library in Holbook on December 4th at 2 pm. All are welcome.

Velleman – What’s next in your future?

Levinson - I plan to write more mysteries and novels for children.

Editor's note: Marilyn Levinson is a member of LIRW and Sisters in Crime. You can find out more about her and her work at: and


  1. It was my pleasure to interview you, Marilyn. I had fun doing it. Good luck with the new chapter.

  2. And THANK YOU ladies for reprinting the interview. I appreciate it. :)

  3. No problem! This was too good to pass up. Nice job, Donna.