The sound of her feet pounding the pavement drummed in her ears. Her heart kept time as she silently chanted, “Act alone, think alone, avoid surveillance.”

 

From the First Chapter of Cursed BY ATHENA

 

ALONE AND ON THE RUN…

Colors is concealing her identity, avoiding surveillance, and trying to prevent any more deaths. The people who hunt her have murdered to get to her. She is terrified they will hurt her family. In New York City, she hides among the homeless as she searches for a security expert to help her.

Every action she takes is to protect her secret. She knows the truth will change the world for the worse and create endless enemies for her and anyone who helps her. Among her fears is that she will be captured and turned into a lab rat. Seeing no other alternative, Colors vows to destroy those who hunt her.

Connected to Colors’ harrowing plight are the lives of Helen and her husband Dr. Joseph Merrick. They live in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Joseph is a research scientist who has created the Athena Project. His discovery challenges biological and psychological paradigms. His obsession with his secret research is destroying his relationship with Helen and the family. Not only that, he’s unknowingly endangering their lives.

Colors won’t reveal her secret, not even to Colonel Sam Hennessey (Ret.), an ex-Army Ranger, whom she hopes to hire to stop her pursuers. A sniper’s attack on Colors convinces him to help the bizarre young woman with wild pink hair. He continues to struggle with how she withholds information and makes outrageous claims about saving the world. A shoot out, another murder, and an explosion convince him her secret is real and dangerous.

Sam hides Colors in a safehouse in the Pennsylvania mountains and leaves her with a security team. He goes to DC to get help from Retired General Forrester. After a near disaster to Colors and her security team, Colonel Hennessey is ready to go on the attack. With a small mercenary team, Colonel Hennessey and Colors storm her enemy’s compound.

As she resolves her problems, the storylines of the Merrick family and Colors converge.

Cerrano’s novel should appeal to aficionados of Robin Cook’s medical thrillers . . . this book has more of an on-the-run chase narrative. The author also works hard to get into the mindsets and emotions of the desperate players, who aren’t sure whom to trust or how to protect loved ones. Cerrano’s spirit hearkens back to the days when such character-oriented SF material could be found in the fiction sections of mainstream magazines, such as McCall’s.

Strong characterizations uplift a somewhat old-school SF/medical thriller.

Kirkus Review

I really loved your book! What an exciting read! It was a well-written, well-paced, action-packed, and suspenseful tale. You are a very good storyteller with an engaging style that really puts the reader in the story and keeps them eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens next. I kept trying to figure out who Colors really was, and you kept me guessing almost to the very end. 

—Deborah. D.

AN AUTHOR’S NOTE: WHY ATHENA?

Cursed by Athena is not a mythological story. Since Homer’s Odyssey is one of man’s oldest narratives, I included references to Athena and the Odyssey as a tribute to humanity’s love of a well-told story. The Greek gods could be menacing or helpful to man, and my references to Athena are no different.

How does Athena fit into a modern story?

Dr. Joseph Merrick, a research scientist, is known to be obsessed with Greek mythology. He has secretly made a breakthrough to revolutionize medicine. His secret research notes were secure, but out of whimsy and in hope of a diversion, Joseph stored them in a folder labeled Athena. As the story progresses, he and other characters call it the Athena Project. 

There’s more to Athena’s presence in the novel. Colors’ life has been ruined, but she doesn’t know all the facts. She feels cursed because of the changes to her life and the seriousness of what she’s concealing.

AN EXCERPT FROM CURSED BY ATHENA

A young woman with wild pink hair blasted through the steam billowing up from a manhole cover. On the streets she was known as Colors, the one who always wore a backpack and hung with the homeless.

Colors felt powerful when she ran. She dodged people and cars in her way, taking pleasure in the sound of angry horns. Under her coat she clenched a warm, bulging paper bag as if it were a vial of life-saving medicine, and grimaced at the thought of how now even the simplest task took on grand proportions.

Like a soothing balm, a full run could push away the dread, but survival required she listen to fear. Her mind slipped from neutral and revisited how fear touched every move she made, every thought she had, and every person she encountered. She was on the run to prevent any more people being killed by those who pursued her.

Her right foot plopped into a puddle. Urged on by the splash of cold water, she quickened her pace and lengthened her stride. The sound of her feet pounding the pavement drummed in her ears. Her heart kept time as she silently chanted, “Act alone, think alone, avoid surveillance.”

Q&A With The Author

Susan Zahra, editor of Saturday writers newsletter, conducted an interview with Sherry on the occasion of self-publishing her first novel:

Susan: Congratulations on completing your debut novel, Cursed by Athena. Although the title sounds like Greek mythology, the setting is very contemporary. What kind of connection is there?

Sherry: One of the major characters is obsessed with the Odyssey. Dr. Joseph Merrick, a brilliant research scientist, has trouble dealing with real-life relationships and often escapes into the fantasy world of Greek mythology. Similar to how Athena helps Odysseus, Joseph imagines Athena watches over him and names his research the Athena Project.

Susan: How did the main character, Colors, begin to form in your mind?

Sherry: From the beginning, I imagined a young woman on the run in New York City. Because she colored her hair bright colors and changed it daily, she became known on the streets as Colors. She adopted the name to avoid using her real name or any of her false identities.

Susan: Colors seems to be a strong female. Who was her role model(s) as you developed her character?

Sherry:  Her role model(s) are not revealed since her identity is unknown until the end of the novel. What makes her strong are the circumstances she must face. She’s protecting her family, concealing an incredible secret, and living with feelings of guilt, grief, and betrayal.

Susan: What genre is Cursed by Athena?

Sherry:  It’s a suspense novel with a twist of science fiction. My goal in writing it was to create a story that is fun to read.

ABOUT SHERRY CERRANO

Writing has been an integral part of Sherry’s life. For thirty-seven years she taught high school English in the Quincy Public Schools, making a living that incorporated her lifelong love of literature and writing. After years of talking about writing, she is finally experimenting with her own creative writing. Sherry’s goal is to finish a novel that is fun to read. Sixty chapters and several years later, she’s in the process of self-publishing it.

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