Today, in the Forum, I’m excited to talk with my friend, prolific writer Arthur Levine. He has several great novels to talk about, and his rapid-fire wit is hard to keep up with. I’m certain that he’ll keep all of us on our toes for the entire interview. This is sure to be funJ
Tim Greaton: I’ve been fortunate to know you for some time, Arthur, but I’m hoping you could tell our readers a little about yourself.
Arthur Levine: It’s great to be here, Tim. I have a background in publishing, healthcare programming and an interest in spirituality. I actually wrote for the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum for a while until the editor decided I was attacking religion from too many points of view. I developed a Selfcare Health Care system based on using artificial intelligence and that’s where I got my interest in quantum computing, which Einstein called, “Spooky action at a distance.” Guess he couldn’t figure it out either. I use all these things in my writing.
Tim Greaton: I heard a rumor that you actually speak more than one language. Is that true?
Arthur Levine: I spent a summer in Mexico when I was sixteen and can still make love in Spanish if I drink enough tequila, or at least I used to be able to speak fluent Spanish.
Tim Greaton: Was there anyone from your past who made an indelible stamp on your writing?
Arthur Levine: I never had anyone who strongly influenced my writing. I just went off on my own letting my imagination take me wherever it wanted, but I did have a remedial reading teacher in High School who taught me how to read with 95% comprehension very fast. I did a lot of reading as a kid.
Tim Greaton: What was the event that most influenced your life?
Arthur Levine: Meeting my wife on a blind date two hours late at Penn Station and saying, “You must be very angry.” She replied, “No, just hungry.” We’ve been married 51 years and never had a dull moment.
Tim Greaton: You currently have three great novels out now (The “Johnny Oops” novels and “Sequin Boy and Cindy”) and I’ve been fortunate to read passages from two others. I also happen to know that Focus House Publishing is about to release one of your nonfiction works on religion. Where do you find the time? And do you have any moments left in the day for other hobbies?
Arthur Levine: ‘Hate to be dull but my hobby is writing. After that I love following the stock market and pretending I’m making a fortune investing all my book royalties.
Tim Greaton: I’ve heard high praise about your work from several bestselling authors. Rebecca Forster is one who comes to mind. What is the secret ingredient to your writing?
Arthur Levine: I’ve been told it’s unique. That’s just my imagination running wild, I think.
Tim Greaton: Given all the time you invest in front of a keyboard, can I assume you have a full pipeline of projects that we can expect to see in the near future?
Arthur Levine: I’ve written and published three books, “Johnny Oops,” “Johnny Oops11 – Timeless” and just recently “Sequin Boy and Cindy.” I have also written four other novels in some stage of editing. I write quickly, but the editing goes on forever.
Tim Greaton: I remember a great snippet you mentioned from your commercial writing past. If you know which one I mean, could you tell us about it?
Arthur Levine: I was working for a major magazine for only a few months when I got called into the Controller’s office. ”Levine,” he said, “you’re making the rest of us look bad. Please start spending more on your expense account for lunches and dinners!” I’m a quick learnerJ.
Tim Greaton: I assume you either have or will write about this person, but who was the most memorable real life character you ever met?
Arthur Levine: I was a trainee for a brokerage company and the big producer in the outfit was buying thousands of shares of RCA. I opened the mail in the morning, saw a big write up on RCA and ran over to show him. He took this big cigar out of his mouth long enough to say, “Sonny do you want me to read it or buy it?”
Tim Greaton: I know how dynamic your novels can be. Where do you come up with such creative ideas for plots, characters, everything?
Arthur Levine: When I get an idea, I run over to the computer to write it down. I don’t use an outline, and if I get a thought while out on the street I can be dangerous to other drivers and myself trying to write it down before I forget it. I’ve learned to be careful though because if I come up with an ending too soon, I tend to rush to the conclusion.
Tim Greaton: Do you have beta readers in your family or circle of friends, or do you trust your own instincts before you publish your works?
Arthur Levine: I’ve only had beta readers on my most recent novel, “Sequin Boy and Cindy.” My wife doesn’t like fantasy. All I write is fantasy. Sometimes life can be hard.
Tim Greaton: What is your most recent novel about?
Arthur Levine: I was hoping you would ask. My most recent is, “Sequin Boy and Cindy,” a paranormal romance. Spirit ancestors charging through the night sky and a White Buffalo with blazing red eyes show young lovers the way to true happiness. Two lonely young people from abused backgrounds find each other, fall in love, join the army, and both suffer injuries in a war in Iran, but go on to build a great family and future together. This is a heartwarming tale of the art of the possible as Billy and Cindy capture the hearts of an adoring public (in the story) and take New York City by storm. It’s a love story for the ages.
Tim Greaton: What led you to tell this particular story?
Arthur Levine: I don’t know. I wish I did.
Tim Greaton: Will there be sequels or other stories connected to this one? Or do you plan on exploring other realms or even other genres next?
Arthur Levine: I don’t know. I never know. I wake up with something rolling around in the back of my head and start writing. It just comes pouring out. My main characters seem to lead me through the story.
Tim Greaton: I can’t think of a single author who tells stories in a similar vein to you, Arthur. Do you relate your work to any other authors?
Arthur Levine: I really don’t model my work after anyone, but I’ve been told several of my books resemble J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher In The Rye” or John Irving’s “The World According To Garp.”
Tim Greaton: Do you think of yourself as a particular type of writer or do you try to fit your novels into any particular genre?
Arthur Levine: I’m just a storyteller. I pay little attention to the norms of writing. Though there are times I would like to be more controlled, I find it inhibits my writing style to the extent I have one. Control is not one of my virtues.
Tim Greaton: Well, it certainly works for you. Given your instinctive storytelling style, which part of the novel-building process is most difficult for you? Or does it all come easily (I ask with great jealousyJ)?
Arthur Levine: The detail. I have a habit of charging from one idea to another, sometimes leaving the reader behind I’m afraid. I add detail when I’m editing – takes forever. To me, the ideas are most important.
Tim Greaton: After writing any of your novels, did you wish you could have changed something?
Arthur Levine: Not so far, no. Except sometimes I write too much and then I have to cut, but change, never. Well, hardly ever.
Tim Greaton: Why did you choose this particular tone for your story?
Arthur Levine: I don’t know, someone else will have to explain that to me. I tend to be a little snide and my characters are not always loveable, but to me that’s real life.
Tim Greaton: If any one of the monsters could come to life in our world right now, which one would you choose and why?
Arthur Levine: I think I would chose The White Buffalo in Sequin Boy and Cindy because she is not really a monster, but can change into a beautiful maiden if need be. I like beautiful maidens.
Tim Greaton: Though we have every expectation that you will live well past 125 years, when you finally find rest, what would you like your tombstone/obituary to say?
Arthur Levine: Three lines: “Hope I’m still writing in the great upstairs. Hope someone is reading me. Please send all royalties to my wife.”
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.
Arthur Levine: My website/blog (with a contact form) is http://johnnyoops.blogspot.com
Amazon Kindle for “Johnny Oops” is http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Oops-ebook/dp/B0041KL52M/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1
For “Johnny Oops 11 – Timeless” http://www.amazon.com/Johnny-Oops-11-Timeless-ebook/dp/B005XP2GPO
For “Sequin Boy and Cindy” - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0085M3BZ6
Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time with me today. I’m fortunate to have some of the greatest forum readers in the world, and I bet “Sequin Boy and Cindy” and your other works are being searched by many of them right now.
Arthur Levine: Thanks so much for this opportunity, Tim. I guess I’m a little surprised by my answers. Hope your audience finds them interesting.