Author Interview with Paul Levinson

Today we welcome Paul Levinson.

Book ‘Em:  Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.

Paul Levinson:  I’m a professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City; a delighted grandfather, father, and husband; and a singer and songwriter (well, I guess that’s a kind of writing)

Book ‘Em:  Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?

Paul Levinson:  Both fiction and nonfiction.

My novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Novel of 1999), Borrowed Tides, The Consciousness Plague, The Pixel Eye, The Plot to Save Socrates, Unburning Alexandria, and Chronica.   My short stories include “The Chronology Protection Case,” “Loose Ends,” “The Other Car,” and “Marilyn & Monet”

My nonfiction includes The Soft Edge, Digital McLuhan, Realspace, Cellphone, New New Media, McLuhan in an Age of Social Media, and Fake News in Real Context

The message in my fiction is that humans have a real chance to make a better future. Come to think of it, that’s the message of my nonfiction, as well.

Book ‘Em:  Do you have a work in progress?

Paul Levinson:  I have several works in progress, but I never talk about works in progress until they’re actually published. My most recent fiction is “Marilyn and Monet”. My most recent nonfiction is Cyber War and Peace.

Book ‘Em:  What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?

The Plot to Save Socrates has a female hero. It’s much easier to write about a character who is your gender, because then you can understand the character from the inside out. But I based Sierra Waters – the hero of The Plot to Save Socrates – on my wife, daughter, etc. I’m always really complimented when a woman reader tells me I got Sierra Waters right.

Book ‘Em:  What sort of research do you do for your work?

Paul Levinson:  Depends. I usually write about what I know a lot about. But if you’re writing about history – again, The Plot to Save Socrates, and its sequels Unburning Alexandria and Chronica – you have to hit the history books, and nowadays, all over the Internet. But, in general, for both fiction and nonfiction, the best research I know is just living with your eyes and ears open.

Book ‘Em:  Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?

Paul Levinson:  For fiction, anything by Isaac Asimov. For nonfiction, anything by Marshall McLuhan. Both of these authors inspire me every day. Also, I just read a short novel, Heather The Totality by Matthew Weiner, who created Mad Men and wrote a lot of The Sopranos, and that inspired me. Excellent novel.

Book ‘Em:  Was there a person who encouraged you to write?

Paul Levinson:  My father was a great encouragement. He read everything I wrote as a kid, and encouraged me to think big and reach for the stars.

Book ‘Em:  What would you say are your strengths as an author?

Paul Levinson:  I write at nearly superluminal speed, words come instantly into my head, and I can write in my head any time of day, wherever I may be.

Book ‘Em:  How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

Paul Levinson:  I write all the time, any time, and have no routine whatsoever. One of my favorite things about writing is that, for me, it’s an extension of thinking, and is a lot like speaking.

Book ‘Em:  Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

Paul Levinson:  I see some movies and plays made of my work. Several are in the works right now, but my lips are sealed.

Book ‘Em:  If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Paul Levinson:  Don’t let anything get in the way of your writing. There are a myriad of good reasons not to write. You’ve got to ignore or cast aside all of them.

Book ‘Em:  What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?

Paul Levinson:  For fiction: the story took them to another world, another time, or another way of thinking. For nonfiction: that my book showed them another way to think about the media all around us.

Book ‘Em:  Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.

Paul Levinson:  From the beginning of The Plot to Save Socrates

[Athens, 2042 AD]

She ripped the paper in half, then ripped the halves, then ripped what was left, again, into bits and pieces of history that could have been….

Sierra Waters had read once that, years ago, it was thought that men made love for the thrill, while women made love for the sense of connection it gave them.  Sierra had always done everything for the thrill.  She had no sense of connection, except to her work.  Which should have made her an ideal person for this job.

Still … an ideal person would have followed the plan.  It was written on the only substance which could survive decades, maybe longer, without batteries, which required only the light of the sun to be read, or the moon on a good night, or a flickering flame when there was no moon.   Paper.  A marvelous invention.  Thin and durable. And she had just torn it into pieces, opened her palm, and given it to the wind to disperse in irreparable directions.

* * *

[earlier, New York City, 2042 AD]

Sierra was a doctoral student at the Old School, in the heart of Manhattan. Her specialty was ancient Athens, or, more precisely, the adoption of the Ionic phonetic alphabet by Athens around 400 BC — the sprouting of the teeth of Cadmus, as Marshall McLuhan had put it — and its impact on the future of the world.  “A nice, tidy, manageable little topic,” Thomas O’Leary, a member of her doctoral committee, had commented, testily.  But he had agreed to help her, anyway.  He was accustomed to unusual pursuits.  He was an odd-ball,  himself, an independent scholar with no university affiliation.   The Old School had a tradition of allowing one such outside expert on its doctoral committees.

Sierra was making good progress on the dissertation — 72 out of a projected 250-page document, written in under half a year’s time — when Thomas called her down to his office, just off Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, on a wet November evening. He had a copy of a slim manuscript, just a few pages in a worn manila folder. He hefted it, as if to assess its intellectual weight.  By the expression on his face, it looked to be quite important.  He slid it across his pitted oak desk to Sierra. She had mixed feelings about this — it was no doubt an article of some sort that Thomas had come across and deemed relevant to her dissertation. Sierra hated the thought of having to rethink and rewrite any of her work at this point.  On the other hand, she relished uncovering new information.  It made her heart jump.

She opened the folder.  She looked up at Thomas, who was carefully regarding her, his mouth slightly pursed, a long pen of some sort dangling from his fingers like a plastic cigarette. “It’s apparently been kicking around for a while, at least since the 20s,” he said.  “It surfaced recently at the Millennium Club up on 49th Street — their librarian spotted it in an old bookcase, sandwiched between the usual stuff.”

“The 2020s?” Sierra asked.

Thomas smiled.  “Well, could have been the 1920s, as far as the club  goes — it was founded in the 1870s.  But the librarian is sure it wasn’t there before 2023 — that was the last time they did a thorough inventory of their holdings — and the Preface says something about carbon-dating the original.”

“So it’s not an obvious forgery.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be showing it to me, right?”

 

My books: amazon.com/author/paullevinson

My music: https://www.reverbnation.com/paullevinson

My website: https://paullev.com/

My blog: https://paullevinson.blogspot.com/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulLev

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/PLev20062006

My book trailers:

 

  1. Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.

I’m a professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City; a delighted grandfather, father, and husband; and a singer and songwriter (well, I guess that’s a kind of writing)

  1. Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?

Both fiction and nonfiction.

My novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Novel of 1999), Borrowed Tides, The Consciousness Plague, The Pixel Eye, The Plot to Save Socrates, Unburning Alexandria, and Chronica.   My short stories include “The Chronology Protection Case,” “Loose Ends,” “The Other Car,” and “Marilyn & Monet”

My nonfiction includes The Soft Edge, Digital McLuhan, Realspace, Cellphone, New New Media, McLuhan in an Age of Social Media, and Fake News in Real Context

The message in my fiction is that humans have a real chance to make a better future. Come to think of it, that’s the message of my nonfiction, as well.

  1. Do you have a work in progress?

I have several works in progress, but I never talk about works in progress until they’re actually published. My most recent fiction is “Marilyn and Monet”. My most recent nonfiction is Cyber War and Peace.

  1. What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?

The Plot to Save Socrates has a female hero. It’s much easier to write about a character who is your gender, because then you can understand the character from the inside out. But I based Sierra Waters – the hero of The Plot to Save Socrates – on my wife, daughter, etc. I’m always really complimented when a woman reader tells me I got Sierra Waters right.

  1. What sort of research do you do for your work?

Depends. I usually write about what I know a lot about. But if you’re writing about history – again, The Plot to Save Socrates, and its sequels Unburning Alexandria and Chronica – you have to hit the history books, and nowadays, all over the Internet. But, in general, for both fiction and nonfiction, the best research I know is just living with your eyes and ears open.

  1. Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?

For fiction, anything by Isaac Asimov. For nonfiction, anything by Marshall McLuhan. Both of these authors inspire me every day. Also, I just read a short novel, Heather The Totality by Matthew Weiner, who created Mad Men and wrote a lot of The Sopranos, and that inspired me. Excellent novel.

  1. Was there a person who encouraged you to write?

My father was a great encouragement. He read everything I wrote as a kid, and encouraged me to think big and reach for the stars.

  1. What would you say are your strengths as an author?

I write at nearly superluminal speed, words come instantly into my head, and I can write in my head any time of day, wherever I may be.

  1. How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

I write all the time, any time, and have no routine whatsoever. One of my favorite things about writing is that, for me, it’s an extension of thinking, and is a lot like speaking.

  1. Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

I see some movies and plays made of my work. Several are in the works right now, but my lips are sealed.

  1. If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Don’t let anything get in the way of your writing. There are a myriad of good reasons not to write. You’ve got to ignore or cast aside all of them.

  1. What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?

For fiction: the story took them to another world, another time, or another way of thinking. For nonfiction: that my book showed them another way to think about the media all around us.

 

  1. Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.

From the beginning of The Plot to Save Socrates

[Athens, 2042 AD]

She ripped the paper in half, then ripped the halves, then ripped what was left, again, into bits and pieces of history that could have been….

Sierra Waters had read once that, years ago, it was thought that men made love for the thrill, while women made love for the sense of connection it gave them.  Sierra had always done everything for the thrill.  She had no sense of connection, except to her work.  Which should have made her an ideal person for this job.

Still … an ideal person would have followed the plan.  It was written on the only substance which could survive decades, maybe longer, without batteries, which required only the light of the sun to be read, or the moon on a good night, or a flickering flame when there was no moon.   Paper.  A marvelous invention.  Thin and durable. And she had just torn it into pieces, opened her palm, and given it to the wind to disperse in irreparable directions.

* * *

[earlier, New York City, 2042 AD]

Sierra was a doctoral student at the Old School, in the heart of Manhattan. Her specialty was ancient Athens, or, more precisely, the adoption of the Ionic phonetic alphabet by Athens around 400 BC — the sprouting of the teeth of Cadmus, as Marshall McLuhan had put it — and its impact on the future of the world.  “A nice, tidy, manageable little topic,” Thomas O’Leary, a member of her doctoral committee, had commented, testily.  But he had agreed to help her, anyway.  He was accustomed to unusual pursuits.  He was an odd-ball,  himself, an independent scholar with no university affiliation.   The Old School had a tradition of allowing one such outside expert on its doctoral committees.

Sierra was making good progress on the dissertation — 72 out of a projected 250-page document, written in under half a year’s time — when Thomas called her down to his office, just off Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, on a wet November evening. He had a copy of a slim manuscript, just a few pages in a worn manila folder. He hefted it, as if to assess its intellectual weight.  By the expression on his face, it looked to be quite important.  He slid it across his pitted oak desk to Sierra. She had mixed feelings about this — it was no doubt an article of some sort that Thomas had come across and deemed relevant to her dissertation. Sierra hated the thought of having to rethink and rewrite any of her work at this point.  On the other hand, she relished uncovering new information.  It made her heart jump.

She opened the folder.  She looked up at Thomas, who was carefully regarding her, his mouth slightly pursed, a long pen of some sort dangling from his fingers like a plastic cigarette. “It’s apparently been kicking around for a while, at least since the 20s,” he said.  “It surfaced recently at the Millennium Club up on 49th Street — their librarian spotted it in an old bookcase, sandwiched between the usual stuff.”

“The 2020s?” Sierra asked.

Thomas smiled.  “Well, could have been the 1920s, as far as the club  goes — it was founded in the 1870s.  But the librarian is sure it wasn’t there before 2023 — that was the last time they did a thorough inventory of their holdings — and the Preface says something about carbon-dating the original.”

“So it’s not an obvious forgery.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be showing it to me, right?”

 

 

 

  1. Send the links to your books, website, blogs, book trailers, etc. along with a photo of you to include with the interview.

My books: amazon.com/author/paullevinson

My music: https://www.reverbnation.com/paullevinson

 

My website: https://paullev.com/

 

My blog: https://paullevinson.blogspot.com/

 

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulLev

 

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/PLev20062006

 

  1. Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.

I’m a professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City; a delighted grandfather, father, and husband; and a singer and songwriter (well, I guess that’s a kind of writing)

  1. Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?

Both fiction and nonfiction.

My novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Novel of 1999), Borrowed Tides, The Consciousness Plague, The Pixel Eye, The Plot to Save Socrates, Unburning Alexandria, and Chronica.   My short stories include “The Chronology Protection Case,” “Loose Ends,” “The Other Car,” and “Marilyn & Monet”

My nonfiction includes The Soft Edge, Digital McLuhan, Realspace, Cellphone, New New Media, McLuhan in an Age of Social Media, and Fake News in Real Context

The message in my fiction is that humans have a real chance to make a better future. Come to think of it, that’s the message of my nonfiction, as well.

  1. Do you have a work in progress?

I have several works in progress, but I never talk about works in progress until they’re actually published. My most recent fiction is “Marilyn and Monet”. My most recent nonfiction is Cyber War and Peace.

  1. What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?

The Plot to Save Socrates has a female hero. It’s much easier to write about a character who is your gender, because then you can understand the character from the inside out. But I based Sierra Waters – the hero of The Plot to Save Socrates – on my wife, daughter, etc. I’m always really complimented when a woman reader tells me I got Sierra Waters right.

  1. What sort of research do you do for your work?

Depends. I usually write about what I know a lot about. But if you’re writing about history – again, The Plot to Save Socrates, and its sequels Unburning Alexandria and Chronica – you have to hit the history books, and nowadays, all over the Internet. But, in general, for both fiction and nonfiction, the best research I know is just living with your eyes and ears open.

  1. Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?

For fiction, anything by Isaac Asimov. For nonfiction, anything by Marshall McLuhan. Both of these authors inspire me every day. Also, I just read a short novel, Heather The Totality by Matthew Weiner, who created Mad Men and wrote a lot of The Sopranos, and that inspired me. Excellent novel.

  1. Was there a person who encouraged you to write?

My father was a great encouragement. He read everything I wrote as a kid, and encouraged me to think big and reach for the stars.

  1. What would you say are your strengths as an author?

I write at nearly superluminal speed, words come instantly into my head, and I can write in my head any time of day, wherever I may be.

  1. How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

I write all the time, any time, and have no routine whatsoever. One of my favorite things about writing is that, for me, it’s an extension of thinking, and is a lot like speaking.

  1. Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

I see some movies and plays made of my work. Several are in the works right now, but my lips are sealed.

  1. If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Don’t let anything get in the way of your writing. There are a myriad of good reasons not to write. You’ve got to ignore or cast aside all of them.

  1. What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?

For fiction: the story took them to another world, another time, or another way of thinking. For nonfiction: that my book showed them another way to think about the media all around us.

 

  1. Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.

From the beginning of The Plot to Save Socrates

[Athens, 2042 AD]

She ripped the paper in half, then ripped the halves, then ripped what was left, again, into bits and pieces of history that could have been….

Sierra Waters had read once that, years ago, it was thought that men made love for the thrill, while women made love for the sense of connection it gave them.  Sierra had always done everything for the thrill.  She had no sense of connection, except to her work.  Which should have made her an ideal person for this job.

Still … an ideal person would have followed the plan.  It was written on the only substance which could survive decades, maybe longer, without batteries, which required only the light of the sun to be read, or the moon on a good night, or a flickering flame when there was no moon.   Paper.  A marvelous invention.  Thin and durable. And she had just torn it into pieces, opened her palm, and given it to the wind to disperse in irreparable directions.

* * *

[earlier, New York City, 2042 AD]

Sierra was a doctoral student at the Old School, in the heart of Manhattan. Her specialty was ancient Athens, or, more precisely, the adoption of the Ionic phonetic alphabet by Athens around 400 BC — the sprouting of the teeth of Cadmus, as Marshall McLuhan had put it — and its impact on the future of the world.  “A nice, tidy, manageable little topic,” Thomas O’Leary, a member of her doctoral committee, had commented, testily.  But he had agreed to help her, anyway.  He was accustomed to unusual pursuits.  He was an odd-ball,  himself, an independent scholar with no university affiliation.   The Old School had a tradition of allowing one such outside expert on its doctoral committees.

Sierra was making good progress on the dissertation — 72 out of a projected 250-page document, written in under half a year’s time — when Thomas called her down to his office, just off Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, on a wet November evening. He had a copy of a slim manuscript, just a few pages in a worn manila folder. He hefted it, as if to assess its intellectual weight.  By the expression on his face, it looked to be quite important.  He slid it across his pitted oak desk to Sierra. She had mixed feelings about this — it was no doubt an article of some sort that Thomas had come across and deemed relevant to her dissertation. Sierra hated the thought of having to rethink and rewrite any of her work at this point.  On the other hand, she relished uncovering new information.  It made her heart jump.

She opened the folder.  She looked up at Thomas, who was carefully regarding her, his mouth slightly pursed, a long pen of some sort dangling from his fingers like a plastic cigarette. “It’s apparently been kicking around for a while, at least since the 20s,” he said.  “It surfaced recently at the Millennium Club up on 49th Street — their librarian spotted it in an old bookcase, sandwiched between the usual stuff.”

“The 2020s?” Sierra asked.

Thomas smiled.  “Well, could have been the 1920s, as far as the club  goes — it was founded in the 1870s.  But the librarian is sure it wasn’t there before 2023 — that was the last time they did a thorough inventory of their holdings — and the Preface says something about carbon-dating the original.”

“So it’s not an obvious forgery.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be showing it to me, right?”

 

 

 

  1. Send the links to your books, website, blogs, book trailers, etc. along with a photo of you to include with the interview.

My books: amazon.com/author/paullevinson

My music: https://www.reverbnation.com/paullevinson

 

My website: https://paullev.com/

 

My blog: https://paullevinson.blogspot.com/

 

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaulLev

 

My YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/PLev20062006

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s