November 1999's Author of the Month

Sandra Levy Ceren
(Chosen by Pam Stone)
About "Prescription For Terror"

Interview with Sandra

Her Books

Book Review


 
 

About Prescription For Terror

When Brenda handed me this book I had no idea what was 'really' in store for me.  I knew it was a thriller and expected to be frightened, but frighten doesnít come close to what I experienced when reading PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR.

I like to settle down and read in the evenings, but once I started PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR I thought uh-oh this is not your typical thriller, so I waited till daylight to continue.  As I read, I was the one feeling the fear, looking over my shoulder and reacting to every sound I heard.  Sandra Levy Ceren has successfully written a psychological thriller that will not only keep you a wake -- it will pull you in and Ďmakeí you experience it.

Hamilton Pope, I canít seem to forget this character.  I think because like all women I fear rape the most, and to be able to see into the mind of this guy and see how clever he was at getting around and planning ways to get to his victims was frightening, very frightening.

Even though itís been sometime since I read PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR, I still remember it vividly.  This is one book that will stick with you once youíve read it; in fact the memory of it has kept me up some nights.

In my opinion Sandra Levy Ceren has a winner on her hands and thatís why I chose her as Author of the Month.
 

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Interview with Sandra Levy Ceren


PS:  Tell us a little about you and your life.

SLC:  As a long time psychologist, I had a busy practice for many years.  Now, I see patients one or two days a week and spend much of my time writing.  I live in Del Mar, California with my second husband.  I have two grown children from my first marriage.  My son, a Renaissance man, lives in Spain, and my married daughter lives in Northern California. She's made me a grandmother of two delightful little boys ages five and two and one half.
 

PS:  How did you come about writing a thriller?

SLC:  It's the genre I most enjoy.  I love the chase, the puzzle and the delicious redemption at the end.  When I started to write, my work naturally went in that direction.
 

PS:  You have an ability to write a book with scenes that can keep a person up all night; do you feel it comes naturally or do you feel you have to work at it?

SLC:  Often to my surprise it just happens.  I attribute this to my unconscious--continually at work on the project.  When I have to work at it, it isn't as much fun.
 

PS:  Tell us about Dr. Cory Cohen.  How did you come to write this character and make her the lead heroine?

SLC:  I wanted a series character and special-memorable.  I drew her from several sources.  Like me, she is a psychologist and loves music, but she is equipped with attributes I don't have and envy.  She is a talented percussionist and very daring.  Like many patients, some of her characteristics developed from her own experience of alienation.  I believe that minority status for whatever reason--or physical appearance may serve to ripen sensitivity and compassion.

In the back story of PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR, the protagonist is raised in a middle class Brooklyn Jewish neighborhood.  Her mother, a Japanese national, feels alienated in a neighborhood where she is the only Asian.  The culture shock at that time was unbearable to her.  She leaves her husband and three-year-old daughter, Cory, returns to Japan never to be heard from again (perhaps until another book) Cory's Jewish paternal grandparents raise her.  She g rows up feeling different from others because of her physical appearance.  She's tall like her father and his family, but unlike them, she is dark and lean with distinct Asian features.  When her name is called and she responds, sometimes people giggle.  She assumes it's because "Cory Cohen" conjures up a short Jewish guy with glasses.  Her identification with her patients' alienation and lack of self-esteem make her a good therapist.

Having Cory, a middle-aged, divorced mother of two raises some interesting issues.  The possibility of romance and adventure coupled with a healthy lifestyle keep her youthful and can serve as an inspiration to others. Cory is the ideal psychologist; compassionate, intelligent, of good moral fiber and fun.  I'd like her for a friend and hope others will, too.
 

PS:  Hamilton Pope frightened me so I have to ask you, have you ever come across a person as evil as him?

SLC:  Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  Fortunately, it is has been rare and I hope stays that way.
 

PS:  Are you planning to make this a series and if so, would you share with us which characters you plan to keep in the series?

SLC:  Yes.  I'm polishing up the second in the series-SECRETS FROM THE COUCH.  Cory, Betty, Ann and Sgt. Lewis appear in the second novel and hopefully will remain if the series continues according to plan.
 

PS:  The reviews at Amazon.com for PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR are outstanding.  Have you received any feedback personally that you can share with us?

SLC:  Thanks for calling this to my attention.  I just noticed a review by one of my favorite authors.  That is especially rewarding.  I have also received several phone calls and mail praising my work.  This is a real thrill-especially for me, a newly published author.  I thrive on validation.  Several patients have called and asked which character in the book best represents them.  "None that was intentional," I replied.  Patients and colleagues have difficulty distinguishing Cory from me despite my attempts at drawing extreme differences in our appearances. Many psychologists have thanked me for an accurate portrayal of psychologists and our work and depicting the potential damage of managed care.
 

PS:  Who were the most memorable authors who influenced you while growing up?

SLC:  For an avid reader since childhood, this is a difficult question. Authors that come immediately to mind:  Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Somerset Maugham, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle(Sherlock Holmes), Carolyn Keene(Nancy Drew series) John Steinbeck, Edgar Allan Poe, O'Henry, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, Eric Ambler, Raymond Chandler-perhaps in that order.
 

PS:  When you walk into a bookstore what is the first section you set your sites for and why?

SLC:  Depends whether I came in for something in particular or to browse. Usually if I'm waiting for someone, I gravitate to the art section for visual pleasure, or humor section, but ultimately wind up in "mysteries" where I'll come away with a few to be savored like dessert.
 

PS:  Do you have any advice for the legion of aspiring writers out there?

SLC:  1.   Write what interests you and research your topic for accuracy (unless you write fantasy.)

2. Learn the craft.  Read about it, practice it.  Perfect it.  Learn grammar.  Join a creative writing class and a critique group.  Members should be helpful, cooperative, non-competitive.  You should feel you fit into the group and instinctively know it will be mutually beneficial.  Give and take critique politely.  Listen.  Don't argue.  Digest.  The critique may be helpful or not.  You are the ultimate judge.

3. Revise.  Writing is re-writing.  ( I didn't make that up.)

4. If you feel stuck, put the work aside for a few days or so.  Write something else.

5. Don't try to find an agent until others you respect feel your ms. is finished.  The final draft must be professionally edited.  Then you are ready to ask authors whose work you respect for a recommendation.

6. Expect rejections-in the vicinity of double digits.  You will be in league with the now famous.

7. Be aware of scams.  Con-artists abound to tempt and exploit the budding artist.  Very few writers today can make a decent living from their fiction writing-especially new writers.  It is rare for a movie to be made from the work of a new novelist.  No matter how seemingly worthy.

8. Enjoy writing and revision!  Don't struggle.

9. Become a discrete nosy-body.  Eavesdrop on conversations to hear dialogue.

10. Keep a notebook with you at all times.  When you hear funny phrases or odd dialogue, write it down.

11. Observe people.  Notice habits.  Write description you may want to use as characters in a story.
 

PS:  MyShelf is an on-line business and being on-line we have noticed the importance of the Internet in the book and writing business, so we like to list sites that will help readers and writers.  Please share with us the professional and/or personal sites on-line you like to visit.

SLC:  I subscribe to DorothyL, an e mail discussion group for mystery fans and authors.  To join send an e mail to listserv@listserv.kent.edu.  The subject and text of your message should read "Subscribe DorothyL."

www.books.com/sinc/links.htm

www.laughingbear.com/links.htm#online

www.midwestbookwatch.com

www.talkcity.com

www.Mysterynet.com

www.iVillage.com  features Mystery Monday chat  (I haven't been able to access it from AOL Internet explorer

OSC  Keyword on AOL  other side of creativity  (may not be reachable from other than AOL, but try, it's worth it. I recommend Dawn's Dream)

www.cluelass  Here you will find many mystery links.
 

PS:  Do you have plans to make a web page and join the many authors on-line?

SLC:  Yes, provided it proves cost-effective and readily accessible.
 

PS:  I am looking forward to your next book "Secrets from the Couch." Can you tell us a little about it?

SLC:  Cory's patient, a prosecutor vanishes after a troublesome psychotherapy session in which she relates that someone revealed sealed information only she and Cory should have known.  Cory is compelled to get at the root of this and find her patient, but there are ethical impediments and a bit of romantic intrigue.
 

PS:  Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans, for instance book signings, speaking engagements, etc.

SLC:  I hope to have a web site up and running before the end of the year in which book signing tours will be posted.  In the meantime, I can be reached by e mail at SandyLev@Juno.com  (no attachments accepted) Author tour information can be accessed on the Publisher Weekly website Authors on the Road.

I will facilitate a free monthly Mystery Readers discussion group at Barnes and Noble in Encinitas. CA. starting November 2, 1999.  Please call the store at (760) 943-6400 for details.

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I would like to thank Sandra for answering our interview questions via e-mail. Through her interview I have found her to be very intelligent, impressive and approachable. Her book PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR can be found at any on-line bookstore or local bookstore.

Pam Stone

Update: Sandra's webpage


Her Books

Prescription for Terror (1999)


Reviews


PRESCRIPTION FOR TERROR by
Sandra Levy Ceren
Andrew Scott Publishers  - May 1999
ISBN:  0966986105
Reviewed by Pam Stone
Buy It Here

Thereís only two ways a reader can read this one and it not affect his or her mind or life, either with the lights on or during the daytime. Itís that intense and riveting. 

There is a danger along the San Diego coast, where a slasher, rapist is targeting young lonely single women.  After one of Dr. Cory Cohenís patients is killed, Cory decides to get involved, but the police do not want her help, needless to say that does not stop Cory. She bands together a group of psychologists in hopes of finding out how many of their patients are receiving calls from the rapist, they also attempt to come up with a pattern. Cory decides to go even further by putting herself in harms way to get this maniac. I call him a maniac because the rapist they are dealing with is a brutal, unemotional psychopath like no other I have ever read. 

The author does an excellent job of literally putting the reader into the mind of the killer. I promise as you read Prescription for Terror, you too will wonder with a feeling of fear could there really be such an evil creature as this running around our streets. This psychological thriller is one of the best that I have read. 

It was fast paced -- a real page-turner. I can hardly wait for the sequel.

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