Dr Sandra Levy Ceren – Imposter for Hire

Amazon ImageWhat is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Imposter for Hire is the 3rd in the Dr. Cory Cohen psychological mystery series.Again, psychologist Dr. Cory Cohen teams up with private investigator Ben Fortuna.This time they’re on acase involving an anorexic young mother and her Iranian husband, a prominent petroleum engineer.His method to reinvigorate abandoned oil wells is sought by a desperate oil company executive willing to do anything including kidnapping and murder to claim ownership of the method.

Cory and Ben tread a treacherous path strewn with terrorists determined to cause international disasters and a man propelled by greed and ambition.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m a long time psychologist, born, raised and educated in New York City, but transplanted with my children to Del Mar, Californiain search of a warmer climate many years ago.

Writing and reading has been my passion since childhood. Teachers encouraged me to write.I usually earned an “A” in composition and was told I had talent. Writing was a whole lot easier for me than math!

Like many other young girls, I adored Nancy Drew. As a teen, ”who-dun-its” and spy novels were my treats.

My fascination for what makes people tick continues. Thus, it was natural for me to become a psychologist and then later when time permitted it, a writer.

I started writing short stories, but raising children and earning a Ph.D. left no time to learn the fiction writing craft. Then came building a successful psychology practice.It was after my children were in college, that I had time to follow my passion and take writing classes and join a critique group of mystery writers.

What inspired you to write this book?

There were several factors that inspired me to write Imposter for Hire.

Over the years, I had treated a number of women with anorexia. The complex problem was more comprehensible than the solution. I wanted to present it in a non-clinical way—to portray a person who was more than an eating disordered woman. I wanted to show her in all dimensions—the kind, gentle, generous, warm, caring mother and wife. At the same time, I felt compelled to explain the causes and difficulties of treatment for her diagnosed condition.

Our contemporary need and environmental concerns regarding energy, and terrorism are newsworthy topics for a mystery novel, thus they are part of this story.

For me, characters are a vital part of a novel. Their motivation is key. Location gives it color. I cite places with special appeal: architecture, history, and what it conjures up for the reader, thus London, San Francisco and New York are often the “scene of the crime.” In my fourth novel, now a work in progress, the setting is coastal San Diego and Orange counties and San Francisco.

How did you choose the title?

I chose the title Imposter because it may intrigue the reader. My publisher added “For Hire”

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

If you asked me about my first foray into publishing over a dozen years ago, I could write an unpleasant thesis built from one disaster after another—starting with an editor of a well-established publishing firm losing her job after accepting my manuscript which later was rejected by her replacement, to an unscrupulous agent who duped me and others and eventually was removed from the AAR roster.

This fiasco was followed by a contract with a small publisher in Georgia. However, at my first book signing at a store in Sacramento where professional book reviewers had turned up for the event, bad luck had found me again: the publisher had neglected to send books to the store. Luckily, I had some in my car. Subsequently, I learned the publisher had vanished leaving at least a dozen authors in the lurch. We had to find and prevail upon her to void our contracts before signing with another publisher. With great effort, we solved this genuine mystery.

I would not want any writer to experience the above scenario. I am grateful to the publisher of my non-ficition books for taking a chance on my fiction.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes. Each time I return to a current writing project, I re-read it and edit it from the beginning to the place I had stopped. As I do this, a new idea may emerge and I’m compelled to immediately incorporate it, lest I forget. Thus while my work may take shape fairly rapidly,it is frequently re-shaped.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I avoid using names of anyone known to me.

I prefer names that fit the age and region of birth of characters. For example, in my current work-in-progress, the main character is in her early twenties. Her father was a Brit. The name Ashley P. Hogan sounded perfect. I “Googled” the name and found 18 in Southern California, none with the middle initial P. It was winner. (I sure hope, so!)

For my protagonist’s love interest, Ben Fortuna sounded just right. It means “Good Fortune.”Italian men are often romantic, attractive and passionate and this one does bring her good luck.He is her hero in the first novel.

Cory Cohen is the protagonist’s name. Many people are surprised when they meet Dr. Cohen, because they may envision a Jewish man (whatever that may entail for them) but Cory is a woman, and bi-racial.Her birth mother was Japanese and her father, Jewish—just a twist to demonstrate her sensitivity for people who feel like outsiders. Cory cannot be stereotyped.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

I love writing and hope to continue for as long as I am able.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

As far as writing is concerned, I wish I had joined a class and a writers critique group earlier.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I love British Mysteries starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.I like the puzzle, intrigue.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m writing about a young woman with retrograde amnesia. She has lost her memory. Such a malady is often brought on after witnessing a traumatic event. We learn she is an accomplished artist, but all else about her past eludes us. She sets out to find her identity with the help of Cory Cohen, her psychologist—first with hypnosis and then with re-visiting a short time in her past that she is able to re-call.

In this novel, Ben is unavailable in London on a case involving his former boss whom he suspects is in league with the enemy. A “cat and mouse” is afoot.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

I urge writers to take a course on writing and editing, and join a compatible writing critique group.

Don’t sign a contract until you have checked on the legitimacy and record of the publishing company.

It is much easier these days to self-publish. I urge caution. Check out the self-publishing companies with their clients–your fellow writers before moving forward.

Read your favorite writers and figure out what you like about them, i.e. pace, use of the language, plot, characters.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Those who prefer believable characters, intrigue, action, interesting locations and suspense of how the story will play out.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?


Buy the book at Amazon.com.