Q&A With Dara Levan

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Q&A With Dara Levan

My latest guest is with the author of her debut novel It Could Be Worse Dara Levan coming out on March 12th, 2024.  In the past, Dara was a reporter for Dayton Daily News in Ohio. Dara is also a blogger and has a podcast. Dara’s podcast is Every Soul Has A Story some of her guests she’s interviewed on her podcast I’ve also done Q&As with! Wow what a small world isn’t it?

Q: Dara, would you like to talk about your novel It Could Be Worse, where the idea for the book came from?


A: I wanted to explore how a person can be strong and intelligent yet still exhibit dysfunctional loyalty, blinded by love, and finally awaken to what is and what may never be. I also believe that there is always time to learn a healthy way to love and be loved. IT COULD BE WORSE is a tale of acceptance and awakening—but not necessarily forgiveness—that reminds us we can choose how our stories end. My main character, Allegra, seems to have a perfect life. She has a devoted husband,

Benito, two loving children, a thriving therapy practice, and lifelong friends. But when a surprising discovery in a piano bench reveals a shocking family secret, Allegra questions everything she thought she knew about the two people who raised her. One of the themes in the book is narcissism and how it impacts relationships. So many people I’ve known over the years have shared their life-altering experiences with navigating narcissists in their lives–I wanted to explore this dynamic in my novel.


Q: Are you currently writing your next book and if so can you reveal any details about it?


A: As a former speech-language pathologist, I’m passionate about creating characters that experience communication challenges. How we express ourselves helps define who we are and may affect how we connect with people in our lives. Allegra, my protagonist, stutters but only with a family member. The idea for my next book germinated a few years ago while I was writing IT COULD BE WORSE. It will also have characters who are impacted by communication difficulties, and it will explore how that impacts their life’s journey. I’ve realized how little, if any, representation I’ve seen of Parkinson’s Disease, selective mutism, and other disorders in fiction. I feel stories universally connect, empower, educate, and heal us.


Q: What made you realize being an author was your calling?

A: When I was a young girl, growing up in Miami, I’d immerse myself in fictional worlds. I devoured books of all genres, and my love for language sparked during a Latin class in fourth grade. Words and how they impact others lit a fire in me. I would interview my stuffed animals and create stories about their lives. My years at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan solidified my desire to pursue writing. I loved singing and portraying characters with my fellow campers onstage. And I learned in later years that words are powerful—they can harm or heal.


In real life, I respect those who live their truth, and in novels I am fascinated by those who hide behind a mask for a deep personal reason, those who struggle with

relationships, and how they overcome serious obstacles to thrive.


Q: What lessons do you hope impact readers as we read your books?

A: I love this question! My hope is that readers feel empowered and realize that radiance emerges from our breaking points. Fictional stories and the emotional truths within them are incredibly impactful; I hope my books encourage readers to live authentically and from an empathetic space. Through these stories, we may find experiences that mirror our own. My hope is that Allegra’s journey reminds us that we can create our own community, transforming who we are and how we live. I believe the greatest breakthroughs emerge during breakdowns. The characters I write are flawed, just like all of us. Allegra is a therapist who helps heal people of all ages yet she cannot seem to see how the two people who raised her may be harmful. Like all of us, she’s forced to make decisions that ultimately define her.


Q: Would you like to tell us about your podcast Every Soul Has A Story? What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a podcast?

A: I started Every Soul Has a Story in 2020. When we were all isolated, so many of us craved connection and community. Friends and fellow creators encouraged me to start a podcast. I laughed because technology is not my forte! So, I created a spontaneous series on Instagram called “Wednesday Wisdom Live with Dara.” That eventually morphed into my podcast. I’m grateful for extraordinary guests who have trusted me to share their stories. The advice I’d give is respect your guests’ boundaries, honor his/her/their journeys, and listen with your heart. 


Q: I was looking through the list of authors you’ve interviewed for your podcast, and I noticed you spoke with some of the same ones I did for my blog such as Jean Meltzer, Jennifer Rosner, Lisa Steinke; Liz Fenton; Gabi Coatsworth, etc. What was it like speaking with such wonderful guests? Who will be a guest on your podcast in the future? Would you also like to post a link to your podcast?


A: My guests are glimmers who inspire me! Each conversation is unique, enlightening, and soul nourishing. I’m starting my fourth season this month, and I’ve recorded nearly 70 episodes. Conversing with authors not only inspires me but expands my perspectives and deepens my understanding of the human condition. I’ve interviewed an eclectic group of people including jewelers, cancer survivors, artists, and other individuals. I’ve also conversed with authors such as Steven Rowley, May Cobb, Jean Meltzer, and Joanna Rakoff. We not only talk about the writing process, but we also discuss topics such as mental health, overcoming obstacles, parenting, loss, joy, and navigating unexpected moments. I can’t wait to share about upcoming guests–they are amazing!


Thank you for asking–here’s the link to my podcast: