Author Spotlight: Marilyn Levinson (AKA Allison Brook)

Welcome to next edition of the AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT & BOOK ALERT series. Today, we’re sharing:

Allison Brook… but you might know her better as Marilyn Levinson. Marilyn and I met via our blogs and through our love of books. A little over a year ago, I entered a contest to win a book titled Death Overdue, mostly because of the cover and Halloween theme. Then I won it. I read the book, enjoyed the writing style, and posted my review. The author left a kind and thoughtful comment, which prompted me to respond and eventually read more of her work. I finished reading the entire series and before I knew it, we’d begun chatting more frequently, and I learned about Marilyn’s other books written under her official name. Today, we’re highlighting the ‘Haunted Library Mystery’ series she writes under the name Allison Brook. The 3rd book releases on September 10th, and I’m thrilled to share my early review of this fantastic installment.

As my post’s header photo says: this is the perfect combo in reading — haunted, libraries, and murder! I wanted to highlight this wonderful series with an alert and spotlight; it might have something to do with the fact we both come from Long Island… but it’s also because I really enjoy the characters, plots, themes, and side stories. I’m thrilled to share an in-depth author interview with ~15 questions and important links to all her websites, social media accounts, and the books she’s written. Keep reading through this stellar post where you just might find your new favorite writer or a genre you must explore.

About the Author

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for young readers. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library mystery series. The first book, DEATH OVERDUE, was a 2017 Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel. READ AND GONE came out last year, and BURIED IN THE STACKS is out this month. She blogs the third Thursday of every month at https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com.

Key Links:

Overview of Book (s)

Marilyn’s books can be found on her website and Amazon Author’s Page, but we’ve listed them here too. Below, you’ll find the 3 books in the Haunted Library Mystery series we’re highlighting, along with their covers, links to Goodreads, and a plot overview.

Other mysteries and romantic suspense:

  • GIVING UP THE GHOST
  • DANGEROUS RELATIONS

Twin Lakes mysteries:

  • A MURDERER AMONG US
  • MURDER IN THE AIR

Golden Age of Mystery Book Club mysteries:

  • MURDER A LA CHRISTIE
  • MURDER THE TEY WAY

Books for kids and young adults:

  • AND DON’T BRING JEREMY
  • RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK
  • NO BOYS ALLOWED
  • GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
  • A PLACE TO START

Haunted Library Mystery Series:

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies. 

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Twenty-million dollars’ worth of missing gems bring Carrie Singleton’s long-lost and larcenous dad back into her life and it’s up to Carrie to clear his name. 

A devoted dad is as precious as diamonds, but Carrie Singleton wouldn’t know since her dad Jim’s been on the lam most of her life. In an unusual family reunion, she finds Jim breaking into her cottage in the middle of the night. The fun really starts when he begs her to help him recover his half of a twenty-million-dollar gem heist he pulled off with the local jeweler, Benton Parr. When she refuses, Jim takes off again.

Carrie finds her father again behind bars for the recent murder of Benton Parr. Who made the connection? Unbeknownst to her, Carrie’s boyfriend Dylan, an insurance investigator, has been searching for the gems. Determined to find the jewels herself, she starts examining every facet of Parr’s life. She turns up a treasure trove of suspects, one of whom bashes her on the head as she’s searching the victim’s country cabin.

Retreating to the quiet confines of the library where she works, Carrie watches as Smokey Joe, the resident cat, paws at a hole in the wall. Is he after the library’s ghost Evelyn, or something shinier?

Officially launches on Sept. 10th! Get your copy and celebrate today.

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her—and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered—run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

***

Interview: Questions & Answers

  • What are your real, author, and/or pen names?

My real name is Marilyn Levinson. This is the name I use for my mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids except for my Haunted Library series. I write those books as Allison Brook. Why is that, you ask? This was at my publisher’s request.

  • What is your location?

I live on Long Island, NY, where I set many of my novels. However, Connecticut is the setting for the Haunted Library series. Clover Ridge is a made-up village located on the Long Island Sound, about 20 miles east of New Haven.

  • How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher?

My first published book, AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, a young YA novel, came out in 1985 with Holt. The list above covers most of the books that I’ve written. I’ve published with small presses, some of which have gone out of business. I self-published MURDER THE TEY WAY because I was unhappy with the way the publisher handled the first book in the series. My Haunted Library series is published by Crooked Lane Books.

My latest book, BURIED IN THE STACKS, the third book in the Haunted Library series, debuts September 10th.

  • Do you belong to any writing groups?

I belong to Sisters in Crime and to the Guppies, a subgroup. Though it was set up for new writers, I have remained a Guppy like many of my fellow authors. I also belong to a small, unofficial on-line group of fellow mystery writers. We have been together for close to twenty years. We help each other with plot problems, titles, and other writerly subjects. We also constantly “chat” about everything under the sun.

  • What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

I knit, do crossword puzzles and Sudoku, exercise, read of course, and love to travel, though I haven’t done much of that lately. I also love to cook, but not every night, because I love to eat out as does my sleuth in the Haunted Library series.

  • What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

My toughest challenge, believe it or not, is sitting down each day to write. I always fear I won’t know what to write, but somehow I do. Is it any wonder that my writing day starts in the afternoon? But no fear, the books get written—with the help of my muse.

What I love the most is hearing from readers. What I like the least is that my work is never done. I’m not talking about the actual writing of a book, but of the promotion that we, as authors, must do. It takes up a good part of my time.

  • What do you like about writing in your genre?

I love writing mysteries—the complexities, the secrets and intrigues. I enjoy writing cozies—my characters’ relationships with one another and the goings-on in town where they live.

  • When did you know that you wanted to be an author?  What things, if any, influenced that decision?

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a writer or a ballerina. You see which one won out eventually, after teaching high school Spanish a number of years. I’ve loved to read since I was young. I’m sure that was a big influence on my becoming a writer.

  • With so many books being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?

I believe that my characters stand out—their growth, their behavior and their relationships with one another, which are influenced by their secrets and their pasts. In two of the books in my Haunted Library series, my sleuth Carrie Singleton learns to relate to each of her parents in a new way.

  • Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?

I do both. I start out with an outline, know the basic plot points, then deviate from the outline as the plot thickens. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and to let my characters lead where they will. So far they haven’t disappointed me.

  • Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Do you do anything special to get those reviews?

Thankfully, almost all my reviews are positive. The other day I read a whole slew of them on Goodreads. Many of the readers mentioned what they liked about my latest book. I never respond to a negative review, though I have thanked reviewers in the past for a glowing review. I consider myself very fortunate because my publisher sends out my books to important places like BookList, Kirkus and PW, as well as offering it to reader reviewers on Net Galley. I also get many reviews when I arrange to have a virtual blog tour, something I do whenever a new book comes out.

  • Please give us an insight into your main characters.  What do you think makes them special?

My characters are most important to me. I think they’re special because they are three-dimensional. They continue to change and to grow. Carrie Singleton, my sleuth in the Haunted Library series, comes from a dysfunctional family. In the series, she changes from a Goth-dressing wanderer to a responsible member of the Clover Ridge community, with a good job, a boyfriend, and loyal friends.

  • What do your plans for future projects include?

I would like to write more books in the Haunted Library mystery series and to start another mystery series. I would also like to write the third book in my Rufus series. RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK, was a “Children’s Choice” some years ago. The next book in the series was scheduled to be published when the publisher went out of business. I would like to finish writing the third book and publish all three in a boxed set.

  • What type of books do you like to read?  Who are some of your favorite authors?

I like to read mysteries—mostly traditional mysteries that are edgier than the ones I write. I also read many mainstream novels. Ever since I was a young girl, I could read the flap copy or a brief synopsis of a book and know if it was one that I’d enjoy. I love too many authors to name them, but two of my all-time favorite novels are Edith Wharton’s THE HOUSE OF MIRTH and Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY.

Wrap Up

Thank you so much to Marilyn for spending time with me the last few weeks as we prepared this post and held our interview. I enjoy sharing new authors with everyone on this blog, and I’m thrilled when an author I already read agreed to an interview. It makes the spotlight even better because I feel like I’ve become part of the writer’s world. May you love her books as much as I do, and hopefully… you’re inspired to read even more. Oh yeah, do yourself a huge favor too… order Buried in the Stacks today.

***

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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20 comments

  1. Great post, Jay! I recently read Buried in the Stacks which is my very first Allison Brook and the series, but I enjoyed it a lot!
    I was looking for some Halloween themed book, your post introducing the entire series couldn’t come at a better time!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely to meet Marilyn, Jay, and find out about all her books. I enjoyed the interview too and finding out about her writing process. I find it interesting that Marilyn writes in the afternoons as I always find morning so much easier, but I am an early bird and not a night owl at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this interview and getting to know Marilyn and her books. I’m a night owl so I can relate to the afternoon writing. I tried to write in the morning but I don’t want to miss any important emails and end up checking on my blog…

    Liked by 1 person

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