Wednesday, May 29, 2024

An Interview with Marilyn Levinson by E. B. Davis


“’Be careful. Don’t be too trusting of anyone.

Especially of anyone you think you know well.”’

Marilyn Levinson, Come Home To Death, Page 95


Erica Parker has barely been a bride nine months when two thugs show up at her apartment while her husband is away on one of his infamous business trips, claiming he owes their boss a large gambling debt. Frightened for her life, and without any other options, she heads for her childhood Long Island home she escaped three years ago. And swore never to return.

The aunts who raised her are as interfering and controlling as ever, but soon as the family attorney advances the rest of her trust from her parents’ life insurance, she can return to normalcy. Except he refuses, instead spouting nonsense about how, if she waits, she will soon inherit millions. On her twenty-fifth birthday.

Problem is, someone doesn’t want her to live that long.

Her aunts are harboring secrets, people are turning up dead, her husband is nowhere to be found, and someone’s trying to kill her. It appears you can go home again, but sometimes, you shouldn’t.


Come Home To Death, by Marilyn Levinson, is a suspenseful mystery. You know the what and the why, but you don’t know the who—so you know it’s coming—but for main character Erica Parker it could be anyone in her life. Talk about be kind to your enemies because your friends could be a bunch of lousy….


For parents, this is a cautionary tale of why sheltering your children too much is a bad thing. Kids have to walk on the wild side in their teen years to shave off naivete. Poor Erica is a total innocent. Cocooned and henpecked by well-meaning aunts who raise her after her parents are killed in a plane crash, Erica runs to the opposite end of the state after college to escape the cage she’s lived in.


She a very lucky young woman, but her parents’ trust fund becomes a target on her back.


Please welcome WWK’s Marilyn Levinson.                              E. B. Davis

Your setting for this story is where you live—on Long Island. Did you grow up there? Is there a particular place on the island that you based Manordale on?


My family moved to Long Island when I was fourteen and a half. Except for the four years I attended Syracuse University and nine years after that, I've always lived on Long Island. I didn't base Manordale on any particular town, though I set it on the south shore of Long Island rather than the north shore where I've lived.


Erica seems to have good instincts, and yet she doesn’t always make the right decisions. Why

the conflict?


Growing up, Erica had to put up with her aunts always telling her what to do, and so she didn't develop life skills as she should have. When she moved to upstate New York, she was completely on her own. Some of her decisions, like her choice of job, turned out well. Others, like marrying Terry after knowing him a short time, proved to be rash.

Before two goons show up looking for her husband, does Erica have any suspicions about her husband, Terry?


She does wonder about his frequent trips, but since he offers a reasonable explanation for them, she doesn't press for more information. Deep down, she'd rather not learn anything unpleasant.


Is Erica caught up in a self-perpetuating cycle? She’s so needy and naive, predators are attracted to her. But then again, older, overprotective women are also attracted, like they know she needs protection. Erica wants neither response.


I think we all give off vibes that enable other people to sense things about us, things we have no idea we're revealing.


When Erica arrives back in Manordale, her aunts treat her like she’s still a kid. How does Erica combat their behavior?


For one thing, she announces that she's married. This sets off a new wave of questions, questions that she doesn't want to answer. Erica has to remind herself that she is no longer a child. She is only staying in the house where she grew up until she gets enough money to pay off Terry's gambling debt.


Erica finds out that on her twenty-fifth birthday, just a week away, she will become very wealthy. But when she asks to borrow twenty thousand dollars to cover her Terry’s, her husband, gambling debts, Sherman Hartley, attorney and in charge of her trust fund, blocks her. What reason does he give her for denying her request?


Sherman is a stickler for the rules, and tells her she simply can't have any part of her inheritance until she turns twenty five in a few weeks.


I was surprised and dismayed when Erica told Terry about the fortune she is about to inherit. Why would she do that?


Why wouldn't she? Erica loves and trusts Terry. She considers everything she owns is to be shared with her husband.


Her best friend, Jason Hartley, the attorney’s son, is somewhat of an odd ball geek. Unfortunately, he’s big, but not athletic. He’s smart, but not ambitious or as talented as he wants to be. How did they relate as children?


They grew up knowing each other because their parents were good friends. They grew even closer after Erica's parents were killed in a plane crash, and Jason's mother died from an illness.


Erica seems to dominate the relationship with Jason. She’s able to stand up to him. Why can she do this with him but not with others?


Erica is stronger and more resilient that Jason, who was close to his mother and never got along with his father. She is used to his moods and having to bolster him up. It's a close relationship she never had with anyone else.


After Terry’s funeral, Doug Remsen contacts Erica. He had claimed to be Terry’s friend. Why does she believe him and contact him?


Erica is drawn to Doug's calm and kind demeanor. She's happy to know someone who was a friend of Terry's.


I thought distance made the heart fonder—and yet—it isn’t until after Terry’s funeral that Erica realizes her idyllic marriage wasn’t and their marriage would have ultimately failed. Why then?


Erica has had many rude shocks regarding Terry, shocks she is forced to examine. Not only is he a gambler, he left school at sixteen and though he never was caught, he committed crimes in order to survive. He lied about his background, which is so different from her own. Erica realizes she fell for a handsome enigmatic stranger who wanted to marry her.


Even after Doug confesses to looking after investments for mob boss Mr. B, Erica still wants to see Doug? She knows it’s stupid.


She does because she feels he is the only person who understands what she's going through. He's the only person she can trust. And it means a lot to her that Terry trusted Doug too.


Of all the people Erica can’t trust, I thought Aunt Constance was better. But even she mixes sedatives into Erica’s drinks. Why does she do that?


Aunt Constance loves Erica and truly wishes the best for her. She gives her sedatives because she thinks that Erica's senses need to be dulled after losing Terry.


Erica learns she isn’t the only woman in the family to suffer bad judgment when it comes to men. Why isn’t Aunt Betty (her mom’s sister) a good role model?


Aunt Betty is in love with a married man.


Is Come Home To Death a standalone novel or will you make this the first book of a series?


It is a standalone.