My guest today appeared on Ink Drop Interviews back in it’s early days. At that time, he was promoting his novel, Johnny Oops. I would like to welcome him back today, with his latest novel, Sequin Boy and Cindy. Please help me to welcome Arthur Levine…
IDI – Hello Arthur, it’s great to have you back.
AL – It’s great to be back.
IDI – Arthur, are your stories plot or character driven?
AL – My stories are definitely character driven. It’s not so much that I get into their skin as it is that they get into mine and sort of take over.
IDI – Who is your favorite author, and why?
AL – I like some of the indie authors I’m reading like Rebecca Forester and her Hostile Witness Series. which in my opinion is the best of legal thrillers and I must add, on a more traditional note J.D. Salinger and his Catcher In The Rye. Reminds me of Johnny Oops, or is that the other way around?.
IDI – Arthur, why do you write?
AL – I think we write what we are and probably don’t know it. Hard to accept that we can do some of the crazy things our characters do or even have these thoughts, but we must, otherwise we couldn’t write them.
IDI – Sequin Boy and Cindy is a different type of novel than Johnny Oops. What made you write it?
AL – This is my first attempt at a paranormal romance, but I hope it is more. It’s about two young people from abused backgrounds who find each other and fall in love. Here is a little excerpt.
CHAPTER 1 Sequin Boy and Cindy
I never thought anything good was going to happen to me and then I met this girl.
I saw her standing on the other side of the train platform at Jamaica Station, NY fidgeting with the torn buckle on her faded blue backpack, waiting for the 5:35 to take her out to what I later found out was a group home in Blissville, Long Island where she lived. She’s a pretty girl with blond pigtails, big blue eyes and a great smile. And yet I sense there is something sad or withdrawn about her. Guess that makes two of us.
I think she is staring back at me.
Cindy is eighteen and works in Jamaica as a dental assistant, a job I found out she detests because she’s bored. I guess she can’t help staring across the platform at a strange-looking young man in a hooded sweatshirt who appears to have some kind of shiny colored disks on his face, which are half hidden by the hood of his sweatshirt—that’s me. My name is Billy Wolk. I’m half Native American Indian. I have spirit Ancestors.
She must be thinking, what are they, those ornaments on his face? I guess she’s wondering why this strange boy is staring at her. Probably thinks I look sad and alone. I am. I’m taken by the good looks of this thin girl who occasionally smiles at me. I think she is smiling at me. It’s hard to be sure from this distance. No one ever smiles at me. Sometimes they stare in disbelief. I almost never smile.
Cindy says to herself, “what’s with that kid staring at me? He has some weird shiny stuff hanging from his face. I’m a little scared.”
In my mind I can still feel the sting of his belt buckle hitting me. My Native American blood comes from my mother’s side. I guess that’s where I get my black hair and light olive complexion. My mother died when I was ten years old. My real father disappeared years before. My drunken stepfather kicked me out of his home when I was sixteen after beating me bloody with the brass buckle of his belt and telling me I was a worthless outcast—a social reject. I don’t know why I’m thinking about that now.
“I hate that bastard,” bubbles from my lips whenever the image of the beatings and the hurtful words I got from my stepfather cross my mind.
I found a job working for ten dollars an hour at a pulp romance magazine with offices in Jamaica, NY as an article writer. I was always good at English and writing in high school. Any one could have written for that rag their standards were so low, but I’m digressing.
I live in a one room fourth floor walk up on Eleventh Street and First Avenue in New York City. I guess you could say it’s a dump, and am headed home when I see her. I wish I had the courage to cross the train platform and talk to that girl. I wish I had some faith in myself and wasn’t so shy.
Self-consciously I pull at the sequins on my upper lip. I have a neat row of four gold-colored sequins sewn on either side of my nose, one long row of nine sequins in red, yellow and blue sewn on my forehead, and a tinier row of six silver sequins above my upper lip. Why did I ever let some tattoo and piercing artist in the Bronx talk me into doing this as an eighteenth birthday present to myself? I guess I wanted to keep people away from me. How anti-social can you get? I must be an idiot. Maybe my stepfather was right about me.
I’ve never been with a girl before, never even kissed one. I haven’t had much interest until now. I’ve been more in a survival mode just wanting to be left alone, but this girl across the platform with the blond pigtails really turns me on. I think she is staring at me. I wonder how much of my face she can see while I’m wearing this hooded sweatshirt? Maybe I should step back into in shadows. Why did I get these damn sequins sewn on my face? Makes me look like a real weirdo. Guess that’s what I wanted.
How do I know what I want? I’m only eighteen years old. Is she smiling at me? I think she’s smiling at me.
For days the two of us stare across the platform at each other, I always make sure to get to my train platform at the same time every day so I can see her. I don’t know what I will do if one day she isn’t there.
Finally, I get my courage up, climb up the stairs and cross down to her side of the platform. “Hello,” I barely whisper with my eyes on the ground.
I mumble in a quiet voice unused to speaking to other people about anything except yes or no or chicken and garlic sauce at the Chinese take out place, “I’m so lonely. I saw you looking at me. Can I ride with you?”
I get a real shock when Cindy gently takes my hand and simultaneously pulls my hoody back,
She hesitates and says, “Yes.” She is thinking what am I doing with this boy. He look so strange with sequins on his face, yet he looks so sad and lonely and under everything really handsome. Dare I talk to him? How can I let him ride with me on the train? Is it safe? Something makes me want to get to know the real person under those horrid shiny metal sequins.
For some reason I guess she feels drawn to me. Makes me feel good.
IDI – Do you outline or do you fly by the seat of your jockey’s?
AL – I fly. Don’t do an outline and go where my characters take me, sometimes to very strange places.
IDI – Where do your ideas come from?
AL – I’ve often wondered about that myself. They just pop into my head. People say I have a vivid imagination and my stories are unique. I just write whatever is swimming around in the back of my head. Before I sit down to write I have no idea that I had such feelings.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek?
AL – I’m working on a sequel to Johnny Oops when the principal characters are in transition to heaven in spirit form. A little excerpt would be Johnny Oops 111 – Spirit World
Crossing over can be hard to do. There are different phases. I Johnny Oops 11 am slowly floating down the stream on a light green Lilly Pad watching a Yellow and Blue striped Butterfly take in the blazing midday Sun from the overhanging branch of a tree. Have to be quiet now. Don’t want to disturb the balance of nature. I could never have done this before, but now that I’m in spirit form it’s easy. The sheer beauty of the scene is overwhelming. The smells are wonderful. My friends and I are now spirits in Paradise. I wonder what my family is doing now? Where are they?
IDI – (Some) writers have been known to be eccentric, from keeping rotting apples in a desk drawer to only being able to write while wearing fuzzy pink slippers. Do you have any such quirks or superstitions that are as integral to good writing as plot and character?
AL – I don’t think so. What’s most important to me is writing my thoughts down before I forget them. This can be very disconcerting to my wife who may ask a question and only get a vague What in response. Also I’m dangerous when crossing streets when a thought comes to me.
IDI – One last question, Arthur. What advice would you give to new/unpublished writers?
AL – Write what’s in your heart.
I’m including a blurb on my new novel Sequin Boy and Cindy and a bio on myself. Hi everyone, the White Buffalo is coming. She can make your dreams come true. Sequin Boy and Cindy my new novel has recently been published on kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0085M3BZ6
There is no room for loneliness when two lost souls find each other, fall in love, suffer adversity and go on to enjoy heartwarming success. The spirits of Billy’s Indian Ancestors and a mythical White Buffalo combine with God’s inspiration to protect our young couple in this paranormal romance plus. You’ll laugh and cry as life and the powers that be take them on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Join Billy and Cindy as they learn to love together, raise a family and experience the pure pleasure of giving back to the community. You’ll relate as their wild antics take on special meaning and offer a new dimension to the art of the possible in a love story for the ages.
A little about Arthur:
Arthur J. Levine is a spiritually oriented computer junky and writer who envisions vast social changes taking place as a result of technological innovations on the Internet incorporating the use of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and virtual reality.
He has a background in finance and publishing and is the author of the novel Johnny Oops, Johnny Oops 11 – Timeless, Sequin Boy and Cindy and the how to find faith books The Magic of Faith and The Search For God Stories. He has also written Futures/Past, Homegrown Terrorists, Voyeur Bomb, The Magic Pill and Wasn’t Man. He is a former Director of New Business for Family Circle Magazine and graduated from The Wharton School of Business with a BS in Economics. Mr. Levine is married and has three children and seven grandchildren.
Keep in touch!
Both available in Kindle and paperback – Prime members borrow for FREE!
(Coming Soon) ‘The Red Strokes’
Enjoy an excerpt:
Birth is an empty canvas. Life is the color we apply. Blues and greens, peaceful and unassuming. Pastels for hope. Varied hues of yellow and orange add warmth and contentment while shades of gray mark regrets and change. But it is the red strokes, lies and truths, vibrant and bold, the moments that fill our hearts with joy and bring us to our knees in desperation that place value on our lives. It is the red strokes that shape our integrity and define who we are. Only once a canvas is complete can we appreciate it as a true work of art.
My canvas is now a completed work and as you will learn in the upcoming weeks, many of the strokes of my life were red. I have done things in my life that were both honorable and unconscionable. I have made decisions that were questionable, but have never lent a second to regret. I’ve known shame and pride. I am not going to apologize for the decisions I have made or for the life I have lived. I am not seeking your forgiveness. I am hoping. Hoping that you will understand. And through understanding my red strokes, may you come to recognize and embrace your own.
~ Jake Tallman, in a deathbed letter to his daughters – ‘The Red Strokes’.