Annie’s Books Stop of Worcester is happy to host Loren Schechter on our Spotlight blog this Friday! Loren is the author of two vampire satires, Ethics of the Undead, and his newest release, The Cure, as well as the mystery novel Murder in Millbrook. He will be doing a reading, Q&A, and signing at our 65 James Street store on Saturday, April 8, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM.
Thank you for joining us on the Spotlight blog, Loren! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
Call me Loren (Ishmael was taken.) I write to have fun and to share that fun with others. In my career as a psychiatrist, I came across many fascinating people and stories I cannot talk about, but they were often accompanied by lots of pain. Fiction lets me escape to imaginary worlds, and humorous fiction is good medicine for me and, I hope, for my readers.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?
I’m not wedded to any one genre. I’ve published a cozy mystery, Murder in Millbrook, two satirical adventure novels, Ethics of the Undead and The Cure, and I’m currently writing a thriller called The Toll. I don’t like to read or to write horror stories, so even my vampires are gifted with sensitivity and wry humor. The common elements in my novels are memorable characters, lots of tension and plot twists, witty dialogue, and some reflections on the human condition. All those years of interacting with people (without a couch) gave me some experience in those areas.
What can readers expect from The Cure?
The Cure asks the reader to believe that vampirism is a genetic disease, with the primary symptom being an addiction to blood. A doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital is working on a cure, but his data is seized by government agents. Some vampires are desperate for a cure; others enjoy the gift of immortality and the power their mutated genes give them.
Bunny, a female ex-Army ranger, and Kathy, a sixteen-year-old girl, go on a cross-country quest to find a copy of the data held by the doctor’s daughter in an elite private school. Danger mixed with satirical humor go with them from a vampire school in Idaho to a Chicago crematorium to a high fashion salon in Boston. These two determined women must outwit agents of the Department of Homeland Security who believe killing blood addicts will be less costly than curing them. They must also fight Bunny’s half-brother Bart and his fundamentalist Satanic Legion, who are determined to bury the cure for vampirism and all who search for it.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out The Cure? How did you overcome that challenge?
I faced two challenges in writing The Cure. The first was to present vampires not as monsters, but as normal people whose lives had been totally disrupted by a crippling disease. A virus introduced by a bite (remember the fear about AIDS?) rapidly changes their DNA so that they become addicted to blood, and then their survival depends on getting it. To avoid bleeding or killing the people they love, they must leave their families, their friends and their jobs. If that isn’t bad enough, they find that the government would rather kill them than recognize they exist. How do people respond to such sudden losses? How far would they go to obtain a cure?
The second challenge was to make this book, which has many of the same characters as Ethics of the Undead, a stand-alone adventure story. Ethics of the Undead is the story of normal kids escaping from a vampire school in the Idaho wilderness. So I made The Cure a quest novel featuring an uneasy vampire-human partnership opposed by both vampires and humans. In Ethics of the Undead, my targets of satire were the vampire genre, especially the typical vampire romance, as well as charter schools and the Department of Education. In the The Cure, I satirize the funeral and fashion industries and the Department of Homeland Security.
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
My favorite part of being a writer is the joy of discovery. It’s the character who unexpectedly pops up or does something I didn’t see coming, the sentence that bubbles up from inside that is so fitting and true, and the wonder of looking back on a passage or chapter I wrote and thinking “where did that come from?”
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
I think it’s vital to share your work in progress with other writers or readers you respect in order to get honest feedback. I do that by belonging to small writing groups, but you can certainly get constructive criticism and realistic encouragement elsewhere. Writing groups vary in their usefulness, but I suggest you find or start one that has writers of equal or more skill who are supportive, candid and offer good advice.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
In addition to buying them from Annie’s Book Shop, you can purchase my novels from Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or MerrimackMedia.com.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My awesomeness disappeared once I graduated from medical school and had to treat real people with real problems. However, my website is lorenschechterbooks.com, and I have a blog there. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for joining us on our Author Spotlight blog, Loren! We look forward to having you THIS SATURDAY, April 8, from 2:00 – 4:00 PM.