Thursday, March 14, 2024

Q&A with Dara Levan




Dara Levan is the author of the new novel It Could Be Worse. She hosts the podcast Every Soul Has a Story, and she lives in South Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write It Could Be Worse, and how did you create your character Allegra?


A: Ive always been interested in developing a protagonist whose perpetual optimism can become blind loyalty, despite her professional (and ironic) background as a therapist. All is not always what it seems.


As a former speech-language pathologist, Im passionate about creating characters who have communication challenges. Allegra stutters but only with a family member.


The musical theme and structure—its written in the cadence of a waltz--mirrors the experience of healing. We often take one step forward and two steps back.


My eight summers at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan sparked the idea for the heartwarming flashbacks at a music camp, and it's where Allegra meets her lifelong best friend, Ruby. Interestingly, they both become therapists as adults.


Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Oh I love this question! The title has multiple, layered meanings. Allegra is an eternal optimist. Shes heard the phrase, it could be worse,” for much of her life.


As she awakens to what is and what may never be, Allegra begins to realize how invalidating this statement can be. What seems to be a supportive phrase can also suppress a person from living his or her truth.


As Allegras story unfolds, the title becomes even more significant. I dont want to give too much away. After all, in any situation, it could be worse!

Q: The writer Andra Watkins called the book a “must read for anyone seeking to understand the impact of parent-to-child narcissistic abuse." What do you think of that assessment?


A: I am grateful this theme resonated with Andra. In addition to educating readers, I hope people also find It Could Be Worse empowering and healing.


As Allegra awakens, she learns to advocate for herself and let go of false narratives that no longer serve her.


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I interviewed several therapists who specialize in treating Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I also read books and numerous articles on the topic.


Ive known people over the years who have been gaslit, invalidated, and affected by other forms of narcissistic abuse. I knew I wanted to explore this in my novel. Im already receiving feedback from readers that theyre deeply connecting with Allegras story.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: The idea for my next book incubated while I wrote It Could Be Worse back in 2021. As I mentioned, my protagonist Allegra stutters, and my next book will also include characters with speech/language difficulties.


Ive realized how little, if any, representation I have seen of this in fiction; my next novel will explore a neurological disorder, its impact on the caregiver, and like It Could Be Worse, it is ultimately a life affirming story about unconditional love. I feel stories universally connect, educate, and heal us.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I believe that radiance emerges from our breaking points. Through stories, both written and verbal, we feel less alone as our lives unfold. Im also grateful for the guests around the globe who share their journeys on my podcast, Every Soul Has a Story.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment