Buena librarian puts another book on the shelf



Joel Levin with his newest book, “A Different Slant of Light”, which hit stores Oct. 22, 2021.

Claire Trask, Staff Writer

Not just a friendly face in the Buena Library, Joel Levin has written and appeared in many libraries and bookstores as an author himself. Oct. 22 Levin released his second novel, “A Different Slant of Light”. Starting from where the first book, “Incomplete” left off, main character Brian Smith finds himself hiding his past as a musician until a curious student leads Brian to reminisce on his “Brick” days. 

“Originally I wrote the entire duality in one book,” Levin said. “The original manuscript was about 600 pages, and the natural breaking point landed at about 300.”

Levin completed the entire story in one go over a total of seven years in writing, and in looking back over and finalizing his sequel, he watched the garden of seeds that he planted in the first book bloom into something more in the second book.

 “I make a couple comparisons to Icharus,” Levin said. “The character flies too close to the sun in the first book. Then the second book, those wings of wax melt, and it’s the plummeting aftermath of that.”

The first book, “Incomplete”, mostly features exposition and creates a backstory for each character. The newest addition to Levin’s oeuvre is a lot darker and moves at a faster pace than the prequel. 

“I had the opportunity to wrap up as many loose threads as I could with the sequel,” Levin said.

Even after  the sequel was long complete, publishing and finalizing came with its own trials and tribulations. However, those were not the only difficulties, being a self-published author and surviving a pandemic took serious  tolls on Levin.

“The last pages take place on August 15, 2020,” Levin said. “Ironically, on August 14, I got diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID, which totally screwed up my publication.”

However, Levin was not alone in his publishing process. He had received help from a familiar face on campus, Buena’s own Kelly Herrera. Herrera and Levin are close colleagues, who worked through their masters program together and have known each other for almost 15 years. 

“I remember finishing the first book and going to him and saying, ‘I want to know what happens next,’” Herrera said.

Writing these books was my marathon. I finished that marathon, and that’s worth celebrating.

— Joel Levin

Due to her friendship with Levin and being a fan of his work, Hererra helped with the book by offering constructive criticism to help edit and revisions, ensuring he would have a well written draft.

“For the second book, I gave him some feedback on the ending,” Herrera said. “He had gotten feedback that the ending [of the second book] felt like there were three endings.”

Herrera was happy to be part of the editing process, and hopes students and community members alike will read the book. 

“I think it will connect with students because so many of the locations he writes about are local,” Herrera said.

The duology’s main character Brian’s story is finished with the publishing of the second book, but Levin’s writing career remains in the making.With plans to continue using his knowledge and expertise to keep contributing to the community of homegrown writers here in Ventura. Students and community members can purchase “Incomplete” and “A Different Slant of Light” on Amazon.

“Writing these books was my marathon,” Levin said. “I finished that marathon, and that’s worth celebrating.”