In Conversation With… Marianne Levy


Marianne LevyMarianne Levy is a novelist. She’s written a series of books about Ellie May, a little film star, for children aged 6-9, published by Egmont. Her latest book, for teens, is Accidental Superstar, published by Macmillan. It’s about Katie Cox, a young singer songwriter, who records a song in her bedroom and changes her life forever.

Also a voiceover artist and freelance writer, Marianne’s work has appeared in the Independent on Sunday, the Financial Times’ How To Spend It and on BBC One. She lives in London with her husband, daughter and a bad tempered cat.

 

How did you end up doing the job you do?

When I was in my early twenties, I was trying to make a living as an actor. I was sent a lot of scripts, and most of them were pretty dire. It frustrated me, trying (and almost always failing) to get a part in something I didn’t think was any good. So I suppose I began writing books because I wanted to tell my own stories and regain some kind of control.

That’s one answer to the question, anyway. How does anyone ever end up doing what they do? I don’t quite believe in clear paths. Life’s complicated.

What are you working on right now?

My second book for teenagers, Accidcental Superstar: In Concert. My heroine Katie is trying to navigate her way through her newfound fame, along with all the usual difficulties of being a teenager. And, if this current draft is anything to go by, she’ll be making the most terrible mess.

As part of my research I’ve been getting deep into what it’s like for teens on social media, and it’s fascinating and scary. More and more I’m coming to think that I’m so glad that we didn’t have any of that when I was 15.

Marianne Levy and kids

Describe your first job

It was selling double-glazing over the phone. I spent three shifts as a cold caller, coming between people and their partners/ children/ dinner/ TV to try to persuade them to buy plastic windows. I didn’t get a single customer, and I’m glad.

What was your B plan if this career didn’t work out?

I’ve never had a plan B.

Who would you most like to work with?

Lena Dunham just gets better and better. Nora Ephron, if she was still with us. But then, I’ve had the good luck to work with two terrific editors in Ali Dougal and Venetia Gosling, so I really can’t complain.

My friend Susannah Pearse is an astoundingly talented writer of musicals. I’d love to do something with her one day, but I’m too shy to ask. Maybe she’ll see this.

Where do you feel most inspired?

The boring answer is, when I’m at my laptop. I can only find inspiration through thinking, and I think through writing. I work best in the café at the end of my road, because then I can’t procrastinate as much as I would at home. It was a bad day when they got WiFi.

Marianne in Cafe

What did you want to be when you were little?

When I was very little, a writer. Then, an actor. Luckily, when I was about 24 I saw sense and went back to writing.

What advice would you give your children (or nieces/nephews/young people)?

Be brave.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day to day?

Managing my fear. It’s a leap of faith, writing a novel. And, for most of the writing process, what’s on the page is pretty bad. Telling myself that if I can just keep going I can make it good… it’s hard. Harder than the actual writing, I think.

What are you most proud of?

Passing my driving test when eight and a half months pregnant.

Right Now I’m…

Watching: Michael Palin’s Full Circle. It’s hard for me to go anywhere as I have a toddler, but this gives me a tiny taste of what it’s like to roam.

Reading: I’ve just started ‘Undermajorduomo Minor’ by Patrick deWitt. I loved his novel ‘The Sisters Brothers’, so I have high hopes.

Listening to: Podcasts of This American Life. One day I’m going to run out of episodes and then I don’t know what I’ll do.

Pass it on:
Who would you most like to see featured on this blog?

Shelley Harris, one of the strongest and kindest women I know, and author of the novels ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Jubilee’ @Shelleywriter

Abigail Tarttelin, the very embodiment of bravery. She’s an actress, singer and the author of ‘Flic and Golden Boy’, @Abigailsbrain

Jane Hill @JaneHill64 She’s had the most fantastic career, from writing novels (Grievous Angel, The Murder Ballad, Can’t Let It Go) to standup comedy to running a radio station. I’ve been following her on Twitter for the last few years, and although I’ve never actually met her, I feel like she’s a friend.

Accidental Superstar cover

Ellie may