“I hope this site will be used not only to promote and discuss my work, but also to bring attention to other promising writers of high-quality fiction who self-publish and would like a wider audience.”
Loren Schechter, an author of page-turners, written with keen perception and humor, is a retired psychiatrist who loves to write fiction. Loren says:
” I believe there are three reasons that I became a psychiatrist before I became a writer.
The first came from my tonsillectomy at Bronx Hospital in New York City. Happy to have been born there, I returned at age 5 for surgery after scarlet fever had left my tonsils a potential source of infection. Like most children in those days, I wasn’t prepared by my parents or doctors for hospitalization and surgery. However I was asked to look after a three and a half year old cousin, who was to have the same operation in that day’s assembly line. The surprise, fright and helplessness I experienced was worse than the physical pain, and it made me want to be one of the scrub-suited adults in charge rather than the child imagining worse tortures to come.
My mother was the second strong influence in my career choice. Having watched my father, a very generous and intelligent man, fail in business and suffer severe depression, she was determined that my two brothers and I have professional careers. In that goal, as in most others, such as learning to swim at age 65, and living into her 99th year to vote for Barack Obama, she succeeded admirably.
I was in the seventh grade when my English teacher gave me an F for a book report on which I’d spent a lot of time and effort. It wasn’t that the book report was bad; it was good. So good, she told me, that I couldn’t possibly have written it without considerable adult help. My parents went in to talk with her and I forget the actual outcome. I think the teacher rescinded the F although she believed I’d either fooled my parents or they were covering for me. I was left wondering why I should bother to pour so much effort into writing when the product of my labor was rejected and my character impugned. In retrospect, that teacher was preparing me for the world most writers inhabit. I’m much better able to handle it as an adult. Psychiatric training has definitely helped.
I started my pre-med studies majoring in chemistry in New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences, but graduated with honors as a history major. My interest in history developed into a love of historical novels. In college, I was far more active in the theater group and in politics than was prudent for a pre-med student. Admission committees in twenty medical schools appeared to agree with my biology professor that I would have done better academically had I received “a kick in the ass” to get me on track for a career in medicine.
Fortunately, the University of Louisville accepted me and I did well there, after which I trained in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, where I enjoyed a fellowship year in adolescent psychiatry.
I served in the US Army Medical Corps for two years during the Viet Nam War, but was fortunate enough to be stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Brooke General Hospital housed the army’s major burn unit, and working as a psychiatric consultant to that unit, to those traumatized men and the dedicated staff members who worked with them, opened my eyes to the horror of war and the dangerousness of politicians who promoted it without truly recognizing and caring about the human cost, although their speeches and photo ops are designed to have us believe otherwise.
Upon completion of my military service, my wife and I decided we wanted to raise our three young children in Massachusetts. In my psychiatric career there, I worked primarily in outpatient clinics, although I consulted to public schools, residential schools for troubled adolescents, state hospitals, a drop-in center for recovering alcoholics, nursing homes, and the state prison for women in Framingham. I saw enough of human suffering and resilience not to want to spend my leisure time writing about it. While I may tuck a serious theme or two into my novels, they are written as escapist entertainment.
My career as a writer evolved slowly, with many years spent writing a thriller based on a frightening experience I’d had at work. I found writing was not only good therapy for me — it was really fun. Wanting to test the quality of my work, I submitted the first chapter to a fiction workshop in the Brandeis Adult Education Program. I was admitted to the workshop but found out there was a lot more to the craft of writing than I could ever master. Several evening workshops and writing groups have helped me improve my skills, but it wasn’t easy to find time to write while engaged full-time in psychiatry. Thus, my first self-published novel, “Murder in Millbrook,” took five years to write. My second book, “Ethics of the Undead,” was written after my retirement and took sixteen months.
Although readers will undoubtedly see similarities in style and humor, my novels are of different genres and probably will appeal to different generations of readers. The strongest common thread is that I love the characters in both. That may have something to do with my truly satisfying career in psychiatry.”