Local Author Releases Newest Book in Bestselling Mystery Series

By Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media

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Ferndale Author Donald Levin will hold a book launch event Saturday, June 10, at the Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale to celebrate the publication of his newest novel “The Forgotten Child.” Photo courtesy of Jeff Pearson

Ferndale author Donald Levin has always had a strong passion for the written word. Originally born in Massachusetts, the writer moved to Detroit as a small child and spent his days weaving together exciting fiction stories. In his thirties, he left Michigan to move to New York where he lived in various cities throughout the state.

There he worked as an adjunct college professor after obtaining his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo and also worked as a speech writer for the New York State Public Health Commissioner. When he retired from Marygrove College in Detroit, he was Professor of English and Dean of the Faculty. He currently stands as Emeritus Professor of English at the college. After retiring from teaching and writing professionally, he decided that he wanted to focus more on writing for himself and not others.

Writing professionally and academically over the years, Levin didn’t start to write novels until the 1970s. On top of novel writing, he’s also delved into poetry over the years. Some of his poetry works include: In Praise of Old Photographs (2005) and New Year’s Tangerine (2007).

When it comes to poetry and novel writing he says there are striking differences between the two art forms. Poetry has a more intense narrative and can be written in a short amount of time as compared to fiction novels which are more of a long-term project. When it comes down to choosing between the two ultimately, he enjoys writing novels the best. “I like novels (the most) because I can immerse myself in an imaginative world”, says Levin.

Levin has been encouraged by many authors that have inspired him over the years. As a former professor, he is well versed in the classics, but he loves the mystery genre. Some of the writers he enjoys include Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, and Walter Mosley. “I learned a lot from them (authors) and reading their books have inspired me to write my own books”, says Levin.

Levin says that he is a very diligent writer due to his previous years of professional writing. “As a speech writer, I sometimes had to write eight twenty-minute speeches in a week. I just learned that I had to stay focused and get it done”, he said. Levin does the majority of his writing in the Royal Oak Public Library from 10am to usually 4 or 5pm only stopping to take occasional breaks. At the end of the day he writes a note to himself as a reminder of where to start the new day.

Levin is currently promoting his newest novel “The Forgotten Child”, which is the fourth book in the Martin Preuss mystery series. This series follows a man named Martin who works for a police department and has a disabled son who lives in a group home due to Martin having a full time job and being a widower. The son, Toby, is based on Levin’s grandson Jamie, who also had disabilities and passed away three years ago. Levin wanted to set his series apart from other books in the same genre, by showing the fierce love between a father and son.

“The Forgotten Child”, picks up from the previous novel, “Guilt in Hiding”, in which Martin, newly retired from the Ferndale Police Department, passes his days quietly with his beloved son Toby. When a friend asks him to look for a boy who disappeared forty years ago, the former investigator gradually becomes consumed with finding the forgotten child.

The Martin Preuss series came about from Levin’s interest in the mystery genre. “As a boy, I loved to watch Dragnet and was a consumer of detective/crime fiction”, says Levin. He wanted to tackle the issues of people in society being affected by the extremities of crime and what crime says about the culture/society.

Levin is having a book launch event to celebrate the publication “The Forgotten Child”. The event will be held June 10th at the Lawrence Street Gallery at 22620 Woodward, Suite A in Downtown Ferndale, MI 48220. For more information about upcoming events visit http://www.donaldlevin.com to learn more about his books and upcoming appearances at local events.

Farmington native’s first novel “Letting Go” of the past

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“The Art of Holding On and Letting Go,” by Kristin Lenz, a Farmington native, was released in September 2016. Courtesy Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.

Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media

Oakland County author Kristin Lenz has always been a writer at heart.

As she grew up in Farmington and attended University of Michigan, she says she lacked confidence to pursue a career in writing. Instead, she chose psychology as her major and went on to earn a master’s in social work at Wayne State University.

Then, her husband’s job took them cross-country to Georgia and California, giving Lenz opportunities to work in various areas of social work.

“Social work greatly expanded my world view,” Lenz says. “It gave me the confidence I needed to pursue writing again, and I’ve been so inspired by the resilience of the children and families that I’ve worked with.”

Inspiration for her first novel, “The Art of Holding and Letting Go,” came as Lenz and her husband fell in love with the outdoors near the mountains of Georgia and California. She followed the careers of well-known mountaineers who died attempting epic summits, and studied the effects their deaths had on their families. Lenz says she wondered what it would be like to be the child of a professional mountaineer, and asked herself just how that child’s upbringing would be different.

Her story further developed after she moved back to Michigan.

“I was struggling with this transition and the losses that came with it,” Lenz says “I had left my job, close friendships and a beautiful climate with daily access to nature. I was a new mom, feeling isolated and uncertain in a new environment while simultaneously trying to raise my baby daughter. My grandmother died suddenly.”

She believed everyone can relate to this feeling of loss during times of transition, at any age.

Her coming-of-age novel follows the story of a 15-year-old competitive rock climber. Cara, the main character, has enjoyed a roaming life with her mountaineering parents and makes the natural world her jungle gym. When tragedy strikes on an Ecuadorian mountaintop, her nomadic lifestyle comes to an abrupt halt, and she’s forced to move to her grandparents’ home in suburban Detroit.

Through the novel, Cara embarks on a year of discovery, uncovering unknown strengths, developing friendships and finding first love. It’s a journey that illustrates the transformative power of nature, love and loss, and discovering that home can be far from where you started.

An avid reader and writer, Lenz says reading builds empathy by inviting you to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience other time periods, environments and cultures.

“Our world needs thoughtful writers with diverse voices who open doors, especially as a contrast to the vitriol that’s often spewed on social media in response to current events and our toxic political climate,” Lenz says.

She will have two book launch parties to celebrate “The Art of Holding and Letting Go.” The first is Sept. 18 at the Office Coffee Shop at 402 S Lafayette Ave, Royal Oak. Oak Park indie bookstore The Book Beat will sell copies , along with fellow author Laura Romito’s new line of specialty cooking salts, High 5 Salts with Benefits. (foodgeekfoods.com)

Then on Sept. 25, Lenz will be at Nicola’s Books, in the Westgate Shopping Center at 2513 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor, with author Shutta Crum, who has written many books for children, including her new middle-grade novel, “William and the Witch’s Riddle.” (shutta.com)

When she’s not working on books, Lenz does freelance writing for nonprofit organizations, keeping her involved in social work. She also manages a blog for the Michigan Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

For more information about Lenz, visit kristinbartleylenz.com.