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Jen's Jewels
Get the lowdown on your favorite authors with Jennifer Vido.

Jennifer Vido | Jen's Jewels Interview: IT COULD BE WORSE by Dara Levan

It Could Be Worse
Dara Levan



Barnes & Noble

March 2024
On Sale: March 12, 2024
ISBN: 8888454206
EAN: 9798888454190
Kindle: B0CQQ294LT
Add to Wish List

Also by Dara Levan:
It Could Be Worse, March 2024

Welcome to this week's Jen's Jewels! In the spotlight is debut author Dara Levan, offering a captivating glimpse into her novel, IT COULD BE WORSE. Levan, a former speech-language pathologist, injects a unique perspective into her storytelling by exploring communication challenges and their profound impact on relationships. Join me for an insightful conversation with Dara as she delves into her writing process, discusses her podcast "Every Soul Has a Story," and teases upcoming projects. Don't miss the chance to connect with this rising literary voice and discover the nuanced layers within IT COULD BE WORSE.


Jennifer Vido: What inspired you to write IT COULD BE WORSE?

Dara Levan: I’ve always been interested in developing a protagonist whose perpetual optimism can inadvertently turn into dysfunctional loyalty. And it’s ironic given my main character - Allegra’s - professional background as a mindfulness therapist. As a former speech-language pathologist, I’m passionate about creating characters that also have communication challenges. Allegra stutters but only with a family member.


Jen: What led to the choice of the title, and how does the notion of resilience intertwine with

Allegra’s journey in the story?

Dara: Throughout her life, Allegra heard the phrase “it could be worse,” when she expressed her feelings and challenges. For a long time, that seemed like a way to turn a negative circumstance into a positive outlook. What Allegra eventually realizes is that being invalidated blinded her to important problems that she needs to — and does — confront.


Jen: How did you structure the narrative to create a musical quality resembling the cadence of a waltz as it shifts between flashbacks and the present?

Dara: I wrote IT COULD BE WORSE written in the cadence of a waltz because I feel it reflects the experience of healing. We often take two steps forward and one step back. My eight summers at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan sparked the idea for the heartwarming flashbacks, and it’s where Allegra meets her lifelong best friend, Ruby.


Jen: How did childhood memories set in Miami and music camp experiences in Michigan

enhance the overall mood and tone of Allegra’s narrative in the book?

Dara: What an insightful question! Heartwarming, and at times, heart wrenching childhood flashbacks contributed to Allegra’s journey. The time she spent during sleepovers at her loving grandparents’ apartment created memories filled with unconditional love. In camp, she met her bestie, Ruby. Allegra also felt deeply connected to this space in which she always felt safe, inspired, and embraced. In crafting her story, mining details from the real world helped ensure all that happens to Allegra is relatable, so the reader connects with the characters and their experiences.


Jen: The book explores acceptance, awakening, and questioning one’s past. What message or takeaway do you hope readers will gain from Allegra’s journey?

Dara: I hope readers realize they deserve to love and be loved. I also hope they feel empowered to live their truths and cultivate their own supportive communities. I believe epic breakthroughs emerge during breakdowns. I also hope readers feel inspired to choose how their stories end.


Jen: As a debut author, what challenges did you face in bringing this story to life, and what advice would you give aspiring writers?

Dara: My path to publishing my first book baby has been filled with unexpected challenges and gratifying moments. I’ve learned that much of life—personally and professionally—unfolds just as it should. The advice I’d give to aspiring writers is to let your heart guide you, listen to your inner wisdom on and off the page, and trust the process—even if you don’t understand why or when or how. That’s the toughest part!


Jen: Your podcast and blog, Every Soul Has a Story, focus on stories of love, loss, and resilience. How do your experiences in podcasting influence your approach to storytelling?

Dara:  This is an interesting question—thank you for asking it. I’ve always been fascinated by how people not only survive but also thrive after the toughest times. During the elementary school years, I devoured novels of all genres. I’d also create stories while “interviewing” my stuffed animals about their lives. In middle school, I interviewed residents at my grandmother’s nursing home. So, I suppose I’ve been a storyteller since I was young. I studied English and Journalism at Indiana University.


With my podcast, I’ve loved connecting with other authors, hearing about their writing process and publishing paths. Each conversation is intriguing, enlightening, and soul nourishing. To converse with others not only inspires me but expands my perspectives and deepens my understanding of the human condition. I've interviewed an eclectic group of people including jewelers, authors, cancer survivors, artists, and other individuals. I’m grateful for the people around the globe who have trusted me to share their deeply personal stories.


Jen: For readers who connect with your work, how can they stay updated on your future projects or engage with you?

 Dara: I love connecting with readers! People can reach out in various places like my website, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as the following:

My book--It Could Be Worse: https://www.daralevan.com/debut-novel-it-could-be-worse-2023

Every Soul Has a Story podcast:


Author events: https://www.daralevan.com/events-2-1


Jen: Can you give us a glimpse into your current work in progress or share any upcoming


Dara:  As a former speech-language pathologist, I’m passionate about how the way in which we express ourselves may impact our relationships both to ourselves and others. In IT COULD BE WORSE, Allegra stutters but only with a specific person. (I don’t want to give too much away!) I’ve realized how little, if any, representation I've seen of this in fiction; my next book 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 and resilience. I believe stories universally uplift, educate, and heal us.


Jen: Bonus: What books are currently on your to-be-read (TBR) stack, and are there any

particular genres or themes you find yourself drawn to as a reader?

Dara: I am drawn to character-driven novels. I enjoy rom-coms, psychological fiction, and book club fiction. I love novels with themes about friendship, chosen family, and multigenerational stories. Regarding my TBR stack, that would take the length of a novel to list!


Jen: Thank you for stopping by to chat about your debut novel, IT COULD BE WORSE —best of luck with your captivating new release.

Dara: Thank you so much, Jen. I loved connecting with you!


It Could Be Worse

Mired in self-doubt and blind loyalty, Allegra Gil suspects her charmed life may be a gilded cage. She has a devoted husband, Benito, two loving children, a thriving therapy practice, and lifelong friends. But when a surprising discovery in a piano bench reveals a shocking family secret, Allegra questions everything she thought she knew about the two people who raised her. Was it true? Did her father, a respected pediatric neurosurgeon, harm instead of heal? And Allegra’s mother—how much did she know?

As the past threatens the present, Allegra plays the song of what was, what is, and what may never be in this “powerful and poignant story about letting go” (Jean Meltzer, international bestselling author of The Matzah Ball).

Composed with the cadence of a waltz—up, up, down—through flashbacks to childhood memories in Miami and a music camp in Michigan, It Could Be Worse is a heartwarming, at times heart-wrenching, multigenerational story of a woman supported and embraced by many while shaken to the core by a few.

Fiction Literary [Regal Books, On Sale: March 12, 2024, e-Book, ISBN: 9798888454190 / ]

Buy IT COULD BE WORSEKindle | BN.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Dara Levan

Dara Levan

Dara Levan writes about love, loss, resilience, and how radiance emerges from our breaking points. She’s the founder and host of the Every Soul Has a Story podcast and blog. A graduate of Indiana University, Dara is a former pediatric speech-language pathologist who lives in Fort Lauderdale.


About Jennifer Vido

Jennifer Vido

Jennifer Vido writes sweet romances set in the Lowcountry filled with southern charm and hospitality. In between chapters, she interviews authors for her bi-weekly Jen’s Jewels column on FreshFiction.com. Most mornings, she teaches an arthritis-friendly water exercise class for seniors before heading to the office to serve as the executive director of a legal non-profit. A New Jersey native, she currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescue dogs and is the proud parent of two sons who miss her home-cooked meals. To learn more, please visit her website.

Gull Island






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