Q&A With Deborah Levison
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With Deborah Levison
Today I have the pleasure
of doing a Q&A with author Deborah Levison. Deborah is the author of the
non-fiction novel THE CRATE and her fiction debut A NEST OF SNAKES. As well as
being an author Deborah is also a publicist and journalist and her work has
appeared in national and international publications.
At what point in your life did you realize that you were called to be a
A: Starting in
kindergarten, my teachers wrote “overactive imagination” on every report card.
(They also said I was bossy.) I loved making up stories and plays, assigning
the parts, and then acting them out. Throughout school my highest marks always
went to my writing assignments. And even though my degree from University of
Toronto is in science, from the day I graduated, I spent my life in public
relations and freelance writing. So, constant writing, but it was ghostwriting
under someone else’s name, and telling someone else’s story. More than
anything, I wanted to be an author, to have a book of my own in a library. That
dream came true in 2018 with the publication of THE CRATE, a true crime story
about a grisly murder that involved my family… not a book I ever expected to
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to write your fictional novel, A NEST
A: A few years ago, there
were several lawsuits in Connecticut where middle-aged men came forward to
accuse private schools of abuse dating back to the 1980s. I read through some
of the complaints and I couldn’t believe what happened to these young boys, or
how many adults were complicit in the abuse. The kids were so vulnerable; they
literally had no one to protect them. From the teachers to the headmaster and
right up to the board of directors, everyone knew what was happening and no one
reported it or intervened. Of course, the problem wasn’t limited to New England
by any means – it happened all over the world. I just thought it was such an
important story to tell.
Q: How did your parents feel about you writing their Holocaust journey and
their years after surviving the Holocaust in the book, THE CRATE?
A: My father did not live
to see THE CRATE published, although he did read some early chapters. My
mother, though, is thrilled to see her story in a book. She has been a voracious lifelong reader, and
I think she would have been a fabulous writer if she’d had more confidence in
her English-speaking ability. If she did, perhaps she would have written her
life story herself. All of us agreed how critical it was to preserve the
stories from the Holocaust. She’s read THE CRATE multiple times.
Q: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
A: I loved both. With THE
CRATE, I felt a tremendous responsibility to get the stories right: in part to
honor the victim of the crime and her family, and also to honor my parents and
all those who perished with the retelling of their experiences in the
Holocaust. In that sense I didn’t have a lot of leeway. In A NEST OF SNAKES,
however, it was sheer imagination of plot and characters within the framework I
constructed. They became very real along the way. It’s so cool to see a world I
created appear in a book, as if it had been there all along.
Q: What is your advice to those who want to write?
A: Read as much as possible
in as many genres as possible, and then sit down and start writing. Just go for
it. Grow a thick skin, since it’s not an easy industry, and don’t listen to the
naysayers. If every author let their self-doubt and detractors get the best of
them, the bookstore shelves would be bare.
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, who would it be and why?
A: There are so many! It
would be a true honor to collaborate with Madeline Miller, but I sure wouldn’t
mind sharing a front table at Barnes & Noble with Colleen Hoover. I guess
my top pick would have to be Margaret Atwood. She is literary
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to either of your books?
A: No… maybe one day.
Q: Are you writing a new novel now? If so, can you spoil a little bit about
A: I’m a few chapters into
a new thriller. It starts out with a terrible highway accident but after that I
came to a fork in the plot. I’m not liking the direction the story has taken. I
have to backpedal and re-write. Whichever way it goes, though, I think it will
end up being quite dark.