Welcome to my tour stop for “The Devil’s Pawn” by Marilyn Levinson. The full tour schedule can be seen here.
ABOUT THE DEVIL’S PAWN:
Paperback price: $12.98
eBook price: $2.99
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
After fifteen-year-old Simon Porte’s family is killed in an automobile crash, his father’s brother whom he’s never met brings Simon to live with him and his wife in upstate New York. Simon doesn’t trust Uncle Raymond, and for good reason. Raymond is dying and using his powers to take over Simon’s body. Simon and his allies—his dotty great-aunt Lucinda, his sister whom he finds living with another relative, and a pair of odd twins—wage war against the evil Raymond and his cronies.
Pol stopped swinging and fixed her gaze on me. It was too dark to see her amazing blue-green eyes, but I felt them studying me.
“Did you hear?” she asked. “A girl died yesterday, over in Chatham Falls.”
Death. My stomach started swirling.
“She was going to visit her cousin two blocks away, only she never got there. It was dusk—like it is right now. They found her the next day, lying on the side of a road outside of town.”
Andy said, “The weird thing is, there were no wounds or bruises on her body. No sign of strangulation, stabbing, head wound, or gunshot. Just like the other one.”
Pol yanked her brother’s arm. “We don’t need the details.”
“You started it. I’m just filling in the facts.”
“Poor kid,” Pol said. “Melissa went to Shady Brook, but I didn’t know her.”
A band squeezed my chest so tightly I could barely breathe. “Not Melissa Gordon.”
“Uh-huh,” Andy said. “They think she was murdered.”
“Murdered? I can’t believe it. Last week I was teaching her to swim.”
“I’m so sorry, Simon,” Pol said.
“She was nine years old,” I mumbled. “The same age Lucy would be…”
The twins stared at me.
“Who’s Lucy?” Pol asked.
I shook my head. “Gotta go.”
I took off like a lightning bolt, desperate to get away. I ran down a street I’d never been on before, rubbing away tears brought on by thoughts of my dead sister. I was angry at myself for breaking the one rule I’d set for myself since losing my family: keep your cool, no matter what. But Melissa Gordon! Jeez! She was a cute little thing—two skinny pigtails and a good belly laugh. What monster would kill a kid like that? A few days ago I’d finally got her to put her head in the water. How proud she had been!
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My first career was teaching high school Spanish. I started taking courses in writing when my sons were very young. After writing a few short stories, I realized I was a novelist at heart. My first published novels were for young readers. About fifteen years ago I started to write mysteries and romantic suspense
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I still have the notebook in which I’d written my first stories in my newly-learned cursive handwriting. I must have been in the third grade. I allowed myself to be discouraged by a creative writing teacher in high school. I found myself writing fiction again when my sons were very young.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
I read extensively in various genres, and have too many favorite authors to name. Perhaps my favorite novel is Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. From the many novels I’ve read, I’ve learned the importance of creating three-dimensional characters with psychological depth. When I write my mysteries, I give each character a secret from his/her past that often impacts the murder investigation.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
I start most mornings at my aerobics class. I return home and read through my many emails and try to get to my Facebook page and Twitter account. Almost every day I learn of a new offer or method to promote my books. After lunch I’ll run a few errands to get out among people. In the afternoon I write, edit, and concentrate on my novels. In the evening I enjoy my TV programs and read.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
I wanted to put a teenager in an almost untenable position and see him triumph over evil: How could 15-year-old Simon Porte stop his diabolical uncle from taking over his body?
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
The horror in The Devil’s Pawn is only part of the story. There are many warm-hearted moments as Simon forges new friendships, including a budding romance, and builds a new life in a new place after his parents’ deaths.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
I love Simon’s great-aunt Lucinda. She comes off as a crazy woman but is actually very wise and powerful in her own right. Lucinda teaches Simon how to close his mind during his uncle’s hypnotic sessions, and how to develop his own superpowers. Lucinda tells Simon’s about his family’s dark powers and blood-stained history. She is maternal and a teacher, two traits we share.
8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
A girl asks Simon to meet him at a local coffee shop where the popular high school kids hang out. Simon thinks she likes him, until he realizes she only used him to make her boyfriend jealous. I also enjoyed writing the scenes when Simon realizes his little sister Lucy is alive. They meet, but the aunt with whom Lucy is living refuses to let him join them because her first responsibility is to keep Lucy safe.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
I hope my readers will smile when they finish reading The Devil’s Pawn. I hope it will inspire them to realize their own untapped strengths and powers that will help them develop into mature adults.
11) What are your hopes for this novel?
I’d love to see this novel sell many copies, both in paper and e-format.
12) What do you have in store next for your readers?
A few months from now, StarWalk Kids is bringing out my second Rufus novel for young readers: Rufus and the Witch’s Slave. Rufus is spending a summer month in the south of France with his friend Billy’s family. The boys encounter an old witch who is taking advantage of a young girl’s magical powers and forcing her to steal from surrounding villas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes novels for kids and mysteries for adults. Some of her books for young readers are AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, which was a nominee for six state awards, NO BOYS ALLOWED, and RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK, an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council “Children’s Choice.” RUFUS AND THE WITCH’S SLAVE, will be out in the fall. Marilyn like traveling, foreign films, reading, knitting, Sudoku, dining out, and talking to her granddaughter Olivia on Face Time. She lives on Long Island.