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Author Mark Stephen Levy

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Denver, Colorado, United States
I was so inspired by my adventures while traveling throughout Europe, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, and other exotic locales that I had to write something. Then one day early last year, an idea started to take form quickly. I was finally enabled to weave some of my stories and integrate them into one of the best love story adventures to come along in years.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Earlier today I was being very self-deprecating with a good internet friend. She told me she was all banged up and bruised from a rafting trip and that she fell out of the raft in alligator infested waters down a river in South Africa. Then she hit some rocks, some other rafts floated over her, and yet she lived. Amazing that she did and thank goodness! I said that all my years of being a couch potato has paid off.

Okay, both cases are extreme. Most people don’t do what she did, and I’m not always being a couch potato. But then it got me thinking that within one internet exchange, we represented two types of people: those that are adventurous and those that aren’t. Neither category doesn’t make one better than the other.
I view traveling the same way. There are two kinds of people: those that travel and those that don’t. But then you get into a couple of sub-categories. Some people travel to National Parks, or Disney World. Pretty safe destinations, I think. They’re fun and beautiful, but safe. My favorite sub category is extensive exotic adventure traveling or EEAT: leaving your country and your proverbial comfort zone for a long time.

This category is not for everybody. But you might surprise yourself. If you are at first full of reluctance before leaving, by the end, you’ll have wondered why you never did this before. Throw yourself to the whims and mercy down the path of least expected. You’ll be blown away!

What happens out there? Why will you be blown away? And what does that mean, blown away? Basically, however you viewed the world before these adventures, after, you will be different. You’ll feel different. People will recognize this difference within you. They may not understand it, and they may not want to feel what you feel. But you’ll feel it, and it stays with you forever.

Let me explain. When in third worlds, safe third worlds, people will come up to you and want to speak with you. And if their intent is just to chat, and to try out their English, or find out where you are from, it usually is a happy occasion. This exchange leaves you feeling happy too. And if your everyday existence is like this, you begin to realize this is a cool way to live and you’ll want to keep it going. Move on to the next town, or country and you never know who you’re going to meet and what you will see. Eating the local food is incredible. Then browsing in the local markets, and stopping by for a cup of tea. It can turn into a whole day, and then its dinner time. And you feel good, relaxed…at peace with the world, and with yourself.

What is the most complex part to these kinds of extensive adventures is arriving back home. Adjusting to the everyday life of work and routine is so anticlimactic. So much so that if you knew how difficult that part of it was, you would never leave in the first place! But don’t let that stop you anyway.
Here’s my situation: clearly I belong in the EEAT category. Or I did. I rhapsodize and reminisce about it so much that my whole life’s goal now is to get back out there. But I did satisfy one part of me that longs to get back out there and just can’t at the moment. Writing OVERLAND.

When you read OVERLAND, you’ll see how much of what I had lived in these travels, is the story. Although there is plenty of fiction and imagination, it’ll be interesting to speak with people to ask me what stories were real. On some snowy Sunday, I may read my book again and actually count how many moments of my travels are in there. If I had to guess, I would say dozens. The scene when the song “Moonlight Serenade” by Glenn Miller suddenly plays in the most remote and random of circumstances, you’ll wonder where that came from.

I heard it in a pub waiting for the ferry to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais, France. It was a just one of those magical memories that stood time very still. And very inspirational indeed! You’ll find it in Chapter 23.

Please feel free to make any comments on what happy moments made your time stand still

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I can't imagine any writer of fiction and certainly non-fiction that hasn't lived and experienced what he or she writes about. Logic tells me that, that is just a fact.

I wonder what Boris Pasternak lived that he was so inspired to write Dr.Zhivago? I suppose in a few minutes in Wiki Internet search, I would know. Sometimes I think it is better to just wonder about things and leave it at that. And not for the fact of disappointment of what you would find out. It's just that these are the kinds of things that random thoughts and daydreams are made of.

When I wrote OVERLAND for the last year and a half, the experiences I called upon happened some 20 years ago. But these were my travel experiences from which I could write with authority and authenticity without actually traveled to some of the places I wrote about. Of course some good and intensive research made up for that!

What's my point in all this?

We are what we write. I am currently pondering on what to write for my next book. I certainly couldn't write any spa novels, or paranormal romances. Nor westerns. No, my genre is travel/adventure and love stories. This is what I know, this is what I think is exciting...and I would think there's a pretty big audience for travel/adventure love stories!

If not, maybe I need to enlist in the military and get some new experiences in a different genre....yeah right! Like what army would take me? To paraphrase an old line: "I would never join an army that would have me as a soldier".

Yep, we are what we write. I know I want to write the sequel to OVERLAND. I have some pretty interesting ideas for it...can't really talk about it here until enough people have read it, then you'll know what I mean.

Then I would ask my readers what they would like to see...but that is another conversation for another posting another day.

Everybody has lived something. And I would encourage anybody that reads this post to try writing about it. Whether it turns into a book, a blog, some notes to yourself. There are some things that you will feel when done writing it: joy, perhaps even cathartic release. When you get it down on paper, it just seems to be more official, to take on truer meaning.

Does that mean whatever rambles around in our heads isn't official? Well, no. But writing it down could clear your head of what you've written, which frees your mind to think of something else...or even release some old demons or think of nothing. And then you begin to think of something else. And then you think about what you wrote and go back to your writing and write some more to where it gushes and then you'll want to turn it into something.

How exciting the process is....try it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I spent my first full day in India walking around in total awe. In awe that I was even here, in awe of what I saw. I was still dressed in westerner's clothes since of course, my pack was in Sri Lanka. I wore some khaki pants and a yellow striped short sleeve shirt that pretty much was a walking advertisement for "being a westerner, come hit me up for 'something'".
Suddenly, I found myself with an entourage full of local children, with their hands out asking for 'paise", or spare change. Or 'school pen'. There had to have been 50 kids as I walked around the area as the pack conintued to grow, like the Pied Piper leading them outside of town.
I was becoming diturbed and flustered by this and all at once, as in awe as I had been, my western ways of self containment came storming back and thought if this is how it's going to be here I better do something quick otherwise all my dreams and "awe-ness" of being in India were evaporating rapidly.
I had read in "the book" (Lonely Planet) that this happens every where in India and there is only one way to handle it. I turned around, made hand gestures like a baseball umpire calling the play "safe", rasied my voice and said "NO!" This stopped them, and I moved on...alone.
As I walked a feeling came over me of peace, harmony, gratitude, and self-confidence, that I was going to like it here India, that it was all going to be OK.
Was it ever!
The next six weeks were as a magical a time as I had ever experienced, and the changes that evolved within me were profound, as each day my western 'ways of being' were morphing into the ways of the east...and I liked it!
Materialism was "yesterday". It was like a snake shedding his skin, and slithering around in his new skin, feeling pretty good about it.
OK, I wasn't slithering around, but I know I usually walked around with a smile on my face and felt something I wasn't quite used to and it had become a new way of being: happiness, serentity, peace.
India has a billion people and many times, particularily when arriving in a train station or off a bus, that to them, you're a new customer and you must go with them to their hotel, "my brother give you cheap price". It were times like those that all one billion people were now your entourage. But to counter this, you have the name of a hotel in mind, (taken with consistant research from 'the book'), and you say the name to them, and one guy emerges and takes you there...the rest back off and the smile re-appears, almost clock work. Ah, a new town, new things to in day out, whther lingering at a tea stall for 3 hours or a tour of a Maharaja's palace, or browsing the open air markets, the hustle and the bustle and the chaos was like being on a movie set...but obviously it was real life...real life in India, and the chaos, and noise and clutter never mede me feel more at home as it did in India.

And so now you may be either wondering or understanding: what does this have to do with "sowing the seeds of the story of OVERLAND?"

Well my friends, let's just say it was the field research needed to write OVERLAND with conviction, with honesty and to have captured the feelings and experiences back then in India. For Danny, our main character in OVERLAND, he experiences the same transition from his cosy Western ways to man of the world now adjusted and loving the ways of the east.

I wonder those of you out there reading this post: what have you experienced when you traveled in any 3rd world country. Did you feel the same too?

As always, comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I was a worker bee, but yearned to travel. The yearn was growing into an internal frenzy. I was constantly, almost obsessively just wanting to pick up and go, as the need to travel, yet not doing anything about it, weighed heavy. One day, I walked by my favorite bookstore and on a whim and stopped in to browse the travel section. I found a Lonely Planet guidebook of India. That was the turning point and as I read more and more as if it were a page turning novel, there was no looking back.
I read that the monsoon season ended in India the end of August and a much better time to be there. Certainly I didn't want to be all wet all the time. It was May 30th when I left the US, and decided I cound't wait any longer. I quit my job, subleased my apartment, lent my car to a friend, and purchased a round-the-world ticket that was good for one year. The whole concept of the ticket was you would travel on a certain itinerary on the ticket, go where ever you want, just depart from the city and move on the the next one on the ticket. I did it!

I spent three months in Europe, just biding my time, while having the time of my life. On my birthday, August 16, at age 32, I finally flew my ultimate destination: India. A mishap caused my backpack to not make the flight on a brief transit stop from Sri Lanka to Southern India. I spent two frustrating hours in the Trivandrum airport lining up my backpack with the promise it would show up a few days later.

Resigned to the fact that there was nothing I could do, I took my trusty India guide and asked an auto rickshaw driver to take me to the Hotel Blue Sea. As I was whisked through the balmy palm lined, slow paced, exotic dirt-paved roads, my lost backpack was quickly forgotten. In that one instant, my life had changed forever.I realized in that one instant that life as I knew it, were to be different for the rest of my life.

I had read in the Lonely Planet Guide book that the Hotel Blue Sea was owned by two brothers. When I arrvied, a young man apporached me while climbing out of the auto rickshaw, I said "ah you must be one of the brothers". He responded in all confidence and pride in his sing-song English and tilt of the head, "I am one brother, he is one brother and we are two brothers. Your are welcome at the Hotel Blue Sea."

I was welcome at the Hotel Blue Sea. He didn't realize, nor did I really, that this brother on behalf of one billion people from India, welcomed me. Immediately I felt at home, at peace really. A kind of peace I had never felt before. And I had nothing on me except my hidden empire of some travelers checks, and passport.

That day forward, it could be called B.I and A.I.=Before India and After India= Why? What happened on that first day, what happened after that?

Stay tuned for part 2...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Endorsements for OVERLAND

OVERLAND OVERLAND by Mark Stephen Levy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sara Wolf Stevens' Review of Overland

What a magical story! Mark not only gives us a story about love, he also provides action, adventure, and suspense. I found this book to flow as I turned each page and was taken away to far away places by Mark's vivid descriptions and incorporation of historical events. I would highly recommend this book to fans of all genres for its appeal to entertain the reader and keep you hooked all the way to the end.

From Jennifer Foust:

"Your story was so intoxicating...your writing so picturesque without being wordy, the locales were postcard perfect, you really not just painted the image with your words, but I could hear the sounds and smell the scents of each scene that you described...I really felt as though I was there, as though I was Danny. I adore Emily, even the briefly introduced Anna. That's what I mean, you described each character, that they became people in my world. I even found myself weeping at the Tea Garden when they embrace at the end. And although you realistically described the horrific personal tradgies of war, I loved the way the doctors and towns folks were united and had the intimate relationships that this environment created. And you made it realistic but not gory where you want to skip thru it, I wanted to read every word because even with the bad you worked in a bit of compassion/good over evil/humanity at it's best a the time when it was it's worst. And the village story where Emily and Danny have their hut was such a romantic and perfectly time respite from the realistic war. From the birth then it went to the war and threat of death but ended in the escape...I just didn't want to put it down but at the same time I didn't want to read it too fast because each section was so wonderful I didn't want it to end. Your story has minute I was laughing, then teary-eyed. This would make one heck of a movie, like "The Notebook" quality movie.

From Lindsey Landis:

"Mark, I just finished your book! What a page-turner! You did a fantastic job! "

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, September 6, 2009


When I tell people I wrote a book, the natural reaction usually is, "what's it about?" Well, sometimes they don't even ask that.

But when they do, I explain with a quick answer, "oh, well, thanks for asking. It's a love story". The typical reaction from women is "awwww". Ah, a signal of interest about the book! And then I get deeper into it for another few seconds: "Oh, "it's a travel adventure love story of historical proportions on the first days of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan." Huh? The looks become more quizzical at that point. I should have stayed with "love story."

If I'm telling a guy, I say it's about "traveling, meeting girls, fending off foreign invaders." The quizzical looks return.

It's coming up on two years of having this idea in my head, and even though the book is out, I still have a tricky time explaining it. If I go the historical route, I lose them at this juncture: "It's a love story on the day the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan in 1979". Oh boy, does that lose them. Afghanistan?

Ask my sister, who painfully sat through the first time I told the story out loud. It was at a Starbucks in Brooklyn and it was three hours of story telling. She was either being really nice (she's my sister) to sit through it or in total rapture about the story. Or, maybe because it was raining and we had no where else to go. Heck, the movie Dr.Zhivago wasn't quite three hours but that won like a million academy awards that year.

Nevertheless, I will let the book speak for itself. As you read into it, it is gripping, it's a page turner and you do really want to know what happens next.

So, if you read the book, I am open to your ideas on how to describe it and would be happy to hear from you!