Interview with David Levitt

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Liverpool which, not surprisingly, is the setting for my first novel, 'Red Rocks'. All of the locations in the novel are real places that have meant something to me at various stages in my life. In fact the book takes its title from a favourite weekend day out I used to enjoy with my parents and siblings from the age of about three and upwards. It was, for me, a fitting place to start and end the novel.
When did you first start writing?
I always enjoyed writing stories from as early as I can remember at junior school. I guess I only started writing things that I thought others may want to read when I was at university. However, most of what I have written - short stories, memoir, travelogues and plays - has remained hidden from all but a few close friends. I actually began writing 'Red Rocks' about 20 years ago, when between jobs and put the first draft of the first part away in a drawer gathering dust. I have revisited it at various times in the ensuing years and redrafted/added to it, including around six changes of title until I finally settled on 'Red Rocks'. It seems the title was always in there, waiting for me to find it.
What is your first novel about?
'Red Rocks' is, to some degree, autobiographical, as I suppose are many first novels. I did own a wine bar/restaurant in Liverpool in the 1980s and sold up after seven happy years to focus on other catering projects (sandwich bars and pizza delivery service). The idea for the novel was to take this scenario and ask 'what if...' What if I lost my business? The rest flowed from that: How would I support my family? What if it meant swapping traditional mother/father nurturing roles (stay-at-home dads were still fairly rare in the 1980s)? What would that do to my marriage and to other relationships? I really enjoyed exploring the possibilities and seeing where that took the main protagonist, Jeff Lender.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There is nothing more exciting when writing than to feel a character come alive and in a sense, start to lead you forward. There were times when I knew where I wanted the novel to go, but not necessarily the route and it's amazing when your characters start talking to you and acting their way forward, urging me to follow.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't have any fans (apart from my family, sometimes), but I'm really looking forward to hearing what people think of 'Red Rocks'.
What are you working on next?
Something rather different. I've started writing a psychological thriller about a man in his early 40s going through a mid-life crisis (far less autobiographical). The plotting is pretty complicated, so it may take some time to complete. If 'Red Rocks' is well received, I might consider a sequel.
Who are your favorite authors?
Where do I start? In my late teens and early twenties, I was into anything by Kurt Vonnegut and loved the scale and scope of Dostoevsky's great novels. I've always enjoyed 'big idea' American authors, such as Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and more recently, Richard Ford, Wally Lamb and James Salter. Closer to home, I hugely enjoy the energy and wit in the writing of Martin Amis.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Going for walks with my wife and our new dog, Bonnie. Reading, of course and supporting my beloved Everton, despite all the disappointments and heartache.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first bit of creative writing that I can remember was a short story I wrote in a junior English class. It was about people who survived a great flood and was called something like 'The Second Noah'. Sadly, I don't know what happened to it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I did try to find a publisher for an earlier draft of 'Red Rocks' (I had an agent), but had no success. Having put in all the work, I really wanted people to read it and realised that epublishing as an indie author was the perfect answer.
What is your writing process?
I have an idea in my head and start 'writing' it in my mind, usually while walking or lying awake in bed at night. Sadly, I've never been a great planner or very disciplined. I always tend to write quite quickly and in bursts and then do nothing for days. Now that I have more time on my hands, since retiring from salaried work, I aim to write in a more structured way - so many words, or so many hours each day. One thing that I won't change is constant rereading and redrafting to smooth out the rough edges and end up with something I feel happy to share with others.
Published 2014-12-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.