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Ilene B. Benator is an author and board-certified emergency physician. She is the creator of The Schizo Series and author of Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.



Ilene B. Benator is an author and board-certified emergency physician. She is the creator of The Schizo Series and author of Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.


Ilene B. Benator: Author & Doctor

A board-certified Emergency Physician, Ilene B. Benator practices in the Southeast and wrote the screenplay adaptation for
Schizo, which won a Certificate of Merit in the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood Screenwriting Competition, and was a finalist in two other screenwriting contests.

Ilene grew up in New York, went to medical school in Chicago, and now lives in Atlanta. When not working or being soccer mom to her two wonderful kids, plus two cats and one dog, she enjoys architectural photography, camping, skiing, and takes hikes in the mountains with her husband and black fluffy dog Daisy.

To learn more about Ilene, listen to her interview below on a recent podcast:

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The Schizo Series began during my time in medical school. As a psychology major, psychiatric issues captured my interest and spawned the idea for Schizo.


The Schizo Series began during my time in medical school. As a psychology major, psychiatric issues captured my interest and spawned the idea for Schizo.


How the Schizo Series began

The beginning of my career as an Emergency Physician also began my writing career. I was inspired by the medical crisis in America and wrote a screenplay pilot for a TV series, "Medical Meltdown." It was followed by another screenplay, "Marriage of Deceit." With few contacts, not much became of them, but I pressed on and began to write more books.

I published a non-fiction book in the medical field, and worked on an idea I had since medical school. I was a psychology major, so psychiatric issues were particularly interesting to me. I wrote a book that I called Schizo and acquired an agent to sell it. She advised I write a screenplay for it, which I did. I submitted it to a number of film festivals and won an Award of Merit for the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, was a finalist in the Los Angeles United Film Festival, and a finalist in the Peachtree Village International Film Festival Atlanta Screenwriting Competitions. Recently, I've been accepted for publication by Waldorf Publishing for my novel, now called Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight. I thought it could be fun to produce a short film inspired by the book and screenplay, but comprised of new material not found specifically in either work. That short film has become my cinematic book trailer. I've left the door open to have other short films adapted from my material, though what I want most is to have Schizo made into a movie.



Having spent my medical school years in Chicago, I have woven many of my favorite places in the city into my book, Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.


Having spent my medical school years in Chicago, I have woven many of my favorite places in the city into my book, Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight.


My Connection to Chicago

Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight was primarily set in Chicago for one simple reason: I attended medical school there. You will find many popular Chicago sites mentioned in the book, aside from the hospitals which I changed for anonymity.

Coincident to the setting of Schizo, is the fact that the annual Book Expo America is now in Chicago. If you are planning on a visit, below are some of my favorite spots in the city—and some of the sites mentioned in my book.


Where to Stay...

If you are going to a conference in downtown Chicago, at Navy Pier, there are plenty of options. Check out these hotels near Navy Pier.

I personally have stayed at the Swissotel twice and enjoyed it immensely. If you can be a bit more north and want to be by the Hancock building, I love the majesty and history of The Drake hotel. You’ll find newer, you’ll find nicer, but you won’t find anything that has the same charm. Plus, the location is fantastic.

If your conference is at McCormick Place convention center, hotel options are limited. There’s a choicely located Hyatt that is probably wonderful, but expensive. Book early or it will sell out for anything big enough to require the convention center. You can stay at all those nice hotels near Navy Pier, but then the travel will involve taxis or the “L” trains. My suggestion, and what I did, was book an Airbnb. There are a ton of gorgeous apartments surrounding the area that can rent for the same or less than a hotel. And you can walk.



What to Do...

There are endless things to do and see while you're in Chicago. These attractions are a great place to start.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in the city, in no particular order:


  • See a Cubs Game at Wrigley Field after having breakfast at Ann Sathers.

  • Window shop or (if you can afford it) shop on Oak Street and Michigan Avenue.

While the expensive chains live on Michigan Avenue (resembles 5th Avenue in NYC), Oak Street is where it's at for the personal touch, and charm. The prices will make you swoon, but it is the Gold Coast after all.

  • Visit the Hancock building and Water Tower Place.

It's no coincidence that I put this prominently in my book. I lived close to here for two years and loved to go there more than anywhere else (The Barnes & Noble wasn’t built until after I graduated, so that would have been my second home if it were there then). I know tourists love the Sears tower, but my architectural favorite (and the icon of Chicago, in my opinion) is the Hancock Building.

  • Take an architectural boat tour.

They leave from Navy Pier, so you can fit it into any business trip at the convention center. Of course, it will need to be in the warmer months, but the city is rather magnificent from the perspective of the boats meandering through the waterways like a mini Venice. And on the tour, you get a great talk about the Sears Tower, for those who enjoy learning about that other iconic Chicago building.

  • Visit The Bean (Cloud Gate sculpture) and Millennium Park.

These also were not around when I was a student living in Chicago, but I discovered them later from my more touristy visits afterwards, and I really enjoyed them. And again, they figure prominently in the book.

  • View Lake Michigan.

If the weather is clear, and not too windy, make your way to the lake. (Chicago does get some lake effect wind, but it’s moniker “The Windy City” is actually for the long-winded politicians of the day, trying to get the World’s Fair there.) There’s Navy Pier as a nice access, but my favorite walkway to the beach is just north of The Drake hotel. If you love to jog/bike/rollerblade, there is a trail to follow. But I enjoyed the concrete slab adjacent to the beach (now a café) so I could experience the lake without getting too sandy. Even in NYC, there is no place where you can be in the heart of the city, and also at the beach. It reminds me more of Barcelona in that respect.



What to Eat...

Despite growing up in New York with the diversity of cultures and food, my palate was more limited. Italian, Chinese, Jewish deli, and prime rib places were most of what we ate. But in Chicago, I went to school with students of diverse cultural backgrounds. It was here that I discovered delectable Ethiopian, Indian, and Thai cuisine.

  • Chinatown — While not as well known as in other cities, there is a defined Chinatown. It is close to the White Sox stadium on the south side. My fav Seven Treasures is still there. It is great if you love authentic, good food in a no frills restaurant for crazy cheap prices. As a poor med student, I could eat for a week on $10. Now it is $15, but that’s still a deal.

  • Ethnic Food — Besides the former, there are food choices galore. Polish and Swedish immigrants have also made their mark. Greek festivals in nearby Greektown are always fun. And there’s also great Mexican and Puerto Rican food. For some good recommendations, start your search here.

  • Pizza — I would be remiss to ignore the famous Chicago pizza. There are many restaurants that serve the classic deep-dish delicacy, but the most famous are Pizzeria Uno and Giordanos. I preferred Giordanos, but I may not be the best to give an opinion as if it is not thin slice New York style, it is not really pizza to me. What Chicago serves is thick bread, in a pan, covered with abundant cheese and topped with sauce. It takes 40 minutes to make and is pricy. Plan accordingly.
  • Popcorn — I know you're saying, "Popcorn?!" But, Garrett popcorn is an institution. It has spread to many cities and is not exclusively in Chicago anymore, but if you haven’t had it yet, the buttery caramel flavor is truly to die for. I have waited 30 minutes outside in the cold on Michigan Avenue to get it. You’re welcome. 
  • Everything else — Chicago has so much amazing food, it can’t be listed here. There are plenty of sites for it on the Internet. When I lived here I was too poor to visit most of the high end ones. In short, the food scene here is amazing. Book Alinea 2 months in advance for the price of your monthly paycheck, or go to the corner for some amazing gastro pub. You won’t be disappointed with the food in Chicago.


When to Visit...

As an East Coaster, I found myself missing the four seasons. The winters are from late October to April (sometimes snow flurries in June!), and the summers are hot. I grew up in NY and still I found Chicago to be colder. The summers may not be as hot as in the Southeast, but they are poorly tolerated. Summers bleed into winter, and winter jumps to summer. The best times to visit, as a result, are Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Not too hot and not too cold, but you aren’t likely to have spectacular spring blooms like in the South, or dazzling colors of fall, as in the Northeast. I even wrote a poem about missing spring while I was living there:


"What Is Spring?"

When Frost becomes the Morning Dew
And Life again begins anew

The Trees grow buds
The Robins sing
The Thunderstorms
The Gifts they bring

From its Slumber
The World awakes
New Mates to find
New Paths to take

The Winter Coat I wore is shed
The Fireplace is put to bed

A wondrous sight
Is to be seen
Brilliant Flowers
The Leaves so green

Old man winter
Has gone away
To make his mark
Another day