Today we welcome Philip Levin.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.
Philip Levin: I’ve been an Emergency Medicine physician for forty years, yep, an old time E.R. Doc. Living in Biloxi, Mississippi, I enjoy walks on the lovely white sandy beaches here, and around the world. I’ve traveled to fifty countries, including doing missionary work in a leper colony in India, with the Mercy Ships in Mozambique, and in a malaria clinic on the Amazon River in Peru. I’m active in social events, a board member of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and for a dozen years president of the 150-member Gulf Coast Writers Association.
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?
Philip Levin: I’ve published 24 books in multiple genres. I have six children’s books, which include a series of three chapter-books in the “Princess Priscilla” series and three world-travel books, representing Africa, China, and the Galapagos Islands. My mystery book made the local bestsellers list twice, my contemporary romance won a half-dozen major regional awards, and I have an historic fiction/Bible story book. My poetry has won multiple contests, and I recently published a poetry book. My nonfiction includes a book about my missionary work in Kenya, and three anthologies, one a history of places on the Mississippi Coast, another a profile of 24 Mississippians, and the third a 60-essay collection of Hurricane Katrina experiences. In addition, I have five published audiobooks and a series of four fiction anthologies.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Philip Levin: I have several works in progress. I’ll be publishing a collection of my medical short stories this coming year, and working on a sci-fi novel. Also, I’m working on a non-fiction Forty Years as an E.R. Doctor.
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Philip Levin: Nonfiction is the hardest as it requires careful research and confirmation of facts and dates.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Philip Levin: I read different books and genres for pleasure: sci fi, mystery, graphic novels, fiction, and nonfiction. I’m currently reading “The Storm Before the Storm,” by Mike Duncan, a history of Rome before the Emperors.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Philip Levin: Both of my parents were writers. My mother published over thirty books, and a thousand magazine articles. My father wrote poetry.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Philip Levin: My language skills and natural talent with prose, the rhythm and poetry of written verse. I’m very creative in ideas and language, and spend a lot of time polishing.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Philip Levin: I write about once weekly or more when I’m deep into a project. No routine. I generally write in the evenings, but can write any time.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Philip Levin: Still writing I hope. I have no illusions of being famous. I write for pleasure, magazine articles, blogs, interviews, poetry, and books. I suppose I’ll still be doing the same things, selling my books at art fairs and writing for local magazines. Of course, one can never predict the future, right? If you’d asked me a year ago about TV, I never would have predicted I’d be hosting my own television show now.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Philip Levin: Don’t be in a hurry to have your work out. Be sure it’s edited by someone who is a GOOD editor before making the publication plunge. Start with short work and grow into a novel. Do NOT let these fly-by-night companies take your money in their “Publish your novel” schemes. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, really not, and you have more control over your work. If you DO go professionally, be sure it’s with a reputable company that will offer you more than you can get on your own.
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Philip Levin: Ha. Well, hopefully they’ll say they liked it. Maybe write a nice review on Amazon?
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
I pulled Andrew out of the Chicago psychiatric unit at noon, returning with him to my Mississippi condo an hour before the opulent red sun could sizzle into the gulf waters. Holding open the condo door, I watched him trudge past, his tattered T-shirt bragging of past glory, a science fair from two years and a lifetime ago. Sullen, shallow eyes peeked out from below his dirty bangs.
Once upon a time, in a small village called Dakto in far off China, lived a very old and very wise man, named Consuto. People from his village and those from the nearby tiny town of Plukop came to sit on Consuto’s mat and ask questions and listen to his wisdom. Farmers came to talk of planting. Storekeepers discussed their investments. Young people chattered in love.