Featured Suspense Author
I love to see a local
author come out with a new, exciting book.
It is particularly refreshing to see him deluged with friends and
fans alike that support his work on television and in the newspaper.
I saw both this week in the media.
Then, to clinch everything, I get a call from my sister, Debbie,
who works in a library.
you tried to contact Bob Levy yet?”
no. I’ve been a little
busy. . .”
he’s out with a new book. Isn’t
that what you do? Interview
have written new books?”
“Well, yeah – you know that.”
Sis: “So, what’s the problem?”
“I’m on that.”
Bye!” (The phone slams down in my ear.)
So, okay. Here’s what I found out about Bob.
Bob Levy is a retailer
with Oak Hall, specialty-clothing store founded by his
great-great-grandfather in Memphis, Tennessee in 1859.
He graduated from the University of Virginia with a business
degree. He is also the author
of From the Coin’s Point of View,
a Roman history/short story collection.
He is at work on his second novel.
He is married, with two boys – one in college and one in junior
how long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I wrote a series of ancient Roman historical short stories for the
ancient history magazine, The Celator, from 1989 through 1992.
They were published in the monthly periodical at the rate of about
three per year. In 1992, the magazine editor inquired if I would like to see
the articles compiled in hardcover. I
jumped at the chance. I added
lots of historical reference material and From
the Coin’s Point of View was published in 1993 as a coffee table
size hardcover, taking its name from my magazine column’s heading.
Just as the book was about to come out, I got an idea for a novel.
My experiences with
agents read like your average writer’s: rejection, rejection, rejection!
One in particular (a form letter of course) stood out.
Nothing like a cold
dose of reality is there?
I finally did land a good New York agent for Broken Hearts in January, 1999. I had heard that after 3 weeks an agent would just as soon drop you if your novel hasn’t sold. That wasn’t my case. I lasted through eleven rejections before I was told it would be best if we “parted ways” seven months later in August, 1999. Back to the drawing board! I queried thirty small and mid-size publishers. Two showed interest immediately. I signed on within two weeks. Best choice I ever made. My publisher is a prince of a guy.
a clothier in a long-time Memphis store, you must have some funny stories
about some of the goings-on at the store.
Can you share an incident or two?
At Oak Hall (the
store’s name) about ten years ago, we had an old rustic, “Fall is
Coming” scene with old wood and leaves on top of an eight-foot tall
display top island. One
morning I noticed spider webs glistening from the ceiling to the top of
the display with hundreds of baby spiders marching downward.
I picked up the piece of old wood, which evidently had housed the
problem. I wafted away the
web and took the spiders en masse on the wood to be “executed” with a healthy dose of Raid outside. When
I went back outside to inspect the spider death camp, I slipped on the
“Wet from Raid” sidewalk and broke a bone in my hand.
Not really a funny incident, but a memorable one. At least I didn’t break my writing hand.
(I can’t type. I use the Shelby Foote method – writing in yellow legal
go to fiction instead of another non-fiction book?
I had characters in my head that had
to get out.
us the story line in your mystery (serial killer) book without giving too
much of the plot away. (You
might want to sell them.)
The dust jacket on Broken
Hearts says it all:
us some of the traits and/or forces at work on your main protagonist in
Joe O’Riley is
restless in retirement and has unresolved guilt over his first wife’s
death. He is generally old
school in thought and action, kindhearted but gruff and realistic in his
actions. He is a man in his
mid-sixties and unable to “leap tall buildings in a single bound.”
In his case, he is unable to apprehend criminals half his age
without help from others.
types of characters do you most like to write about, Bob?
I don’t go so much
for traits as I do for one overriding factor: I want there to be some
measure of love in my books. Not
like in a Romance Novel, but a genuine feeling of love between two people
or a group of people. Could
be love between a man and woman, love between good friends, a mother or
father’s love for their son or daughter or vice-versa.
you a plot outliner or a character-driven writer?
Not necessarily in order, but its got to be like a puzzle that
slowly fits together somehow.
about your style do you think makes you unique?
I’m clueless as to
what my style is. Writing,
that is. If I take that
question from the standpoint of me as a clothier, I’d say my style of
dress makes me fairly unique in the world of authors.
I enjoy wearing a coat
and tie. Braces, too. You can say I’m unique as one of the best-dressed authors
around. I have to be!
It’s my daily business and I love it.
authors have influenced you? What
type books do you read?
Some of my favorites
are William Faulkner (The Reivers),
Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and
the Sea), Stephen King (The
Shining), John Grisham ( A Time
to Kill), Hunter S. Thompson (Fear
and Loathing in Las Vegas), and Bruce Springsteen, (Every song of his
is a short story to me.)
does Memphis and the South influence your writing?
Write what you know.
I know Memphis, past and present.
I’ve lived here my whole life, other than four years in
Charlottesville, Virginia while at the University of Virginia.
(That too is in the South and is part of Broken
are your current book projects?
Another O’Riley tale
(if he lives through Broken Hearts.)
do you see yourself writing down the road in several years?
like to do a short literary novella that my regular readers probably
won’t like, but Oprah would love! Sometimes you just can’t
win. . .
Broken Hearts, (fiction), Sunstone Press, hardback, 2000.
From the Coin’s Point of View, (non-fiction), Clio’s Cabinet publishers, hardback, 1993.
This article is by Robert L. Hall - raised in and currently living outside Memphis, TN., writes crime mysteries and tales of a youth with adventures in horsemanship. His books are Mid-South based. Mr. Hall also is a contributing writer for the on-line journal, When Falls the Coliseum , a self-described “Journal of American Culture(or the lack thereof)”at www.wfthecoliseum.com.
A trained musician with
a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Memphis and Master of
Music degree from Florida State University, he is staff pianist at Trinity
Baptist Church in West Memphis and has taught music courses at three
institutions of higher learning.
© 2000 Robert L. Hall, All Rights Reserved