Howard Levine is the author of one previously published novel, Leaving This Life Behind. He is a retired teacher of special education and English as a second language. Before his first public school teaching position—at a high school in the
Bronx, NY—he taught Transcendental
Meditation, which he still practices regularly.
Howard now lives in suburban , where he hikes, bikes, and
writes. He and his wife volunteer at a
soup kitchen and a senior citizens center. Washington DC
Question: What is the title and genre of your novel? Why did you select them?
Answer: My novel, entitled Last Gasp, fits into the category of “thriller”—if pressed for the type of thriller, I would say “political.” I selected the title because the event that sets the plot in motion is a mass murder by gassing, a terrorist attack at a rock and roll concert. The title takes on additional significance near the end of the novel.
Question: What inspired this novel? How did it come about?
Answer: The novel was inspired by the mendacious and profits-over-people nature of right-wing federal governments during the last several decades in the
—illustrated most vividly by the
Iraq War and basically everything that Trump and the Republicans have done, or
attempted to do, since he took office.
The idea for the novel came from a simple thought: What if the government staged a “terrorist
attack” to further its own ends? The
details of the plot fell into place as I went along. United States
Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?
Answer: The hero is Frank Tedeschi, a
vet who owns a hardware store in Vietnam , north of Westchester County .
His estranged brother Rob, a detective with the NYPD, is the other main
character. Rob’s daughter dies in the
gassing, which the government blames on Islamic Jihadists. Frank, owing to a chance encounter, is one of
the few individuals who doubt the government’s explanation. He and Rob embark upon a perilous mission to
prove the truth. New York City
Question: Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?
Answer: My first published novel, Leaving This Life Behind, was published in October 2000 by Creative Arts Book Company. As with Last Gasp, the main characters are working-class New Yorkers—but the similarities end there. Leaving This Life Behind is narrated in alternating chapters by a cabdriver and his wife. She dies in the first chapter. For the rest of the novel, she narrates from a fictional hereafter. Her husband struggles to raise their young developmentally delayed son on his own. There is a reunion of sorts at the end—the details of which I can’t divulge without spoiling the ending for anyone who might read the book.
Question: What are you working on now?
Answer: Currently I’m working on a novel in which a retired couple in
rescue two “undocumented” minors
from the desert and attempt to reunite them with their father in Arizona .
In doing so they place themselves in danger, as they are violating newly
stringent laws concerning undocumented immigrants and asylum. Maryland
Question: What made you start writing?
Answer: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I started writing in earnest because I wanted to express some ideas regarding life as a whole in a fictional context. The result was Leaving This Life Behind. I was hooked on writing thereafter.
Question: What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?
Answer: Get as much feedback as you can on your work. It's hard to see material clearly and objectively, especially after you've gone over it repeatedly. Also, don't expect to make a living as a writer. Aspire to that, but have a profession via which you can support yourself.
Question: Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?
Answer: Last Gasp can be obtained now, at Amazon.com. “Last Gasp by Howard Levine” should be typed in, since there are one or two other books with the same title.
Howard is available for comments and questions.