Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries

Professor Lexie Driscoll is conducting the first meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery book club in her best friend’s swanky mansion when another friend is murdered. More members are knocked off as Lexie unravels secret after secret, leading her to believe she's living in Christie's novel, And Then There Were None. Using Miss Marple’s knowledge of human nature and Hercule Poirot’s cunning, Lexie reveals the murderer.

Why I Write Mysteries
I started reading mysteries as soon as I learned how to read. Judy Bolton, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew—I devoured them all. When I mastered cursive writing, I tried my hand at writing one myself. Alas, I got no farther than Chapter One, and a short Chapter One it was.
Reading fiction has remained an enduring passion. At an early age I was tackling the classics and what’s considered “literature” as I continued to read mysteries. Though they feature murder and danger, I find mysteries strangely soothing and relaxing. Bad, exciting things are happening, but not to me. And all will be resolved in the end.
Why mysteries? Because they’re fun to read and more fun to write. Here’s a list of reasons:
1. I love creating my sleuths. They must be likable, clever, and three-dimensional because they have to carry a series. Lexie Driscoll, the sleuth in my Golden Age of Mystery series is intelligent – after all, she’s a full professor of English – but not very savvy when it comes to choosing the men in her life. Her irresponsible first husband left her when she was pregnant with their son. When she separated from her emotionally unstable second husband, he burned down her house with himself inside. In Murder a la Christie, the first of the series, Lexie is leading a discussion about Agatha Christie and her first mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, when an old family friend suddenly becomes ill and dies minutes later. Lexie realizes this was murder, and sets out to find the murderer.
2. Writing a mystery gives you a chance to explore the human condition. Lexie finds herself housesitting in wealthy Old Cadfield near her best friend, Rosie, who is married to Lexie’s former boyfriend, Hal. While Lexie doesn’t feel completely at home in this upscale community, she has to admit her life would have been easier if she’d married down-to-earth Hal instead of going for “interesting” men.
3. Mysteries explore the perverted or dark side of human nature. Lexie uncovers jealousy, envy, theft, and more.
4. In the traditional mysteries I write, characters know one another. Having them interact, argue, and misunderstand one another is a fiction writer’s delight.
5. Mysteries always include a theme or subject. In Murder a la Christie my characters hold discussions about many Christie novels, often relating them to their own lives.
6. Mysteries abound with secrets. As Lexie investigates, she learns that the lives of the Old Cadfield residents aren’t as perfect as the facade they present.
7. Mysteries present a puzzle that intrigues the reader throughout the novel. Who is the murderer and why does he or she kill? At one time or another, Lexie suspects everyone, including Rosie.
8. Mysteries deliver a frisson of danger. Who will be the next victim?  Will the murderer come after Lexie?
9. Mysteries provide a resolution and justice prevails.  Lexie takes a page from Dame Agatha and presents her denouement after a club meeting when everyone’s present.
10. My mysteries always include a romantic element. At the end of Murder a la Christie, Lexie has two male admirers. Who will she choose?

Murder a la Christi is available at Amazon

You can follow Marilyn’s Murder a la Christie Blog Tour here.

Marilyn Levinson, a former Spanish teacher, writes mysteries, romance, and books for children and young adults.
Her romantic suspense, DANGEROUS RELATIONS, is a love story entwined with an intriguing mystery. GIVING UP THE GHOST is an entertaining ghost mystery. A new edition of A MURDERER AMONG US, which won a Best Indie award from Suspense Magazine in 2011, and its sequel, MURDER IN THE AIR, are out with Untreed Reads this winter. A ghost, a mansion, and a feral Maine Coon cat feature in Marilyn’s most recent YA, GETTING BACK TO NORMAL. Three of her popular out-of-print children’s books, AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, NO BOYS ALLOWED, and RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK are now available as ebooks.
Marilyn is co-founder and past-president of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. She lives on Long Island.

Places to find Marilyn Levinson:

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  1. Kim,
    I'm glad to be here today. Thanks for having me.

    1. Hi Marilyn!

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by today and for writing the guest post for me. I never really thought about mysteries in such detail before. But yeah... It all makes sense. Thanks again.

  2. I really enjoyed reading Murder a la Christie and hope we get to see Lexxie again. I too started reading mystery books at an early age and I like your 10 reasons for why you write mysteries.

    1. Hi Maria,

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I'm completely new to mysteries. I've been known to even hide under my covers and still try to read.

    2. Maria,
      I'm delighted that you enjoyed reading Murder a la Christie. I've written a sequel called Murder the Tey Way, but it won't be out for some time. I've other mysteries available in e-form: Giving Up the Ghost and A Murderer Among Us.

  3. I agree whole-heartedly that a mystery needs be resolved before the book ends. Boo! to those who leave the reader hanging. It's okay to leave personal issues unresolved, as in Lexxie's two beaus, but the murder or crime must be solved.

    1. Yes, Nanci. Lucky for me, I haven't read any mysteries which leave me hanging. I tend to only read cozies and those wrap up pretty well. But as a true romance girl, I just wish the romance would tie up sometimes.

  4. Marilyn,
    No matter what your reasons, I'm glad you write mysteries. I love your books!

    1. Hi Patricia.

      That is SO nice to say. I'm sure Marilyn loves hearing that.

    2. Thanks, Patricia. I must get back to writing more of them. And I'm looking forward to reading your new book that will be out very soon.

  5. Mysteries are excellent reads. I love intelligent books like yours. I also enjoy mysteries with some romance.


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