Up close and personal with Alexandra Sokoloff
I am thrilled to have the vivacious, globe-trotting Alexandra Sokoloff chatting with me today!
Ask a question for the chance to win an audio book.
Grab a cuppa and get ready to learn things you never knew about this best-selling author and screen writer, not to mention her awesome characters.
Alexandra describes herself in one sentence.
I’m an author, screenwriter, teacher, dancer, feminist… and I’m from Berkeley.
What drew her to the thriller genre?
I fully admit I’m an adrenaline junkie! But I’ve also always had a strong sense of social outrage. My biggest theme as a writer is “What can good people do about the evil in the world?” The crime genre makes it possible to address issues of social injustice and explore the real roots of good and evil in a really in-depth way, at the same time that you’re delivering a roller-coaster experience of suspense.
I'm guessing she's an adventurous person, but does Alexandra think so?
I’m laughing, because “adventurous” is probably the word I hear used most often by other people to describe me. It would be pretty hard to deny it, given that I’m now living half in Scotland because two years ago I met the Scottish crime author Craig Robertson at a writing conference in Colorado Springs, and two months later I’d moved to Scotland and in with him - despite the fact we’d never actually had a date.
Where does that come from? I was raised by parents who loved to travel and so I had a lot of exposure to different places and different cultures. I got addicted to that early on. And part of it is I really throw myself into research; I strongly believe it’s my job to give readers the experience of adventure. They don’t call them “thrillers” for nothing.
What makes her laugh out loud?
Besides being asked if I’m adventurous? J Fawlty Towers. The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Danny Bhoy. Craig Robertson. Our two-year old nephew.
Now, we all know I'm a passionate advocate for strong women, so I asked what characteristics contribute to Alexandra's business success.
For me, relentlessness helps. If one way isn’t working, or stops working, I try something else. Loving what I do keeps me going. Being supportive of other people and sharing what you know is key. Checking in and re-evaluating your dream periodically is important, because your dream will evolve. And it doesn’t sound very businesslike, but what really helps is to realize that you’re not alone. The Universe, the Goddess, God, Providence, whatever you want to call it, is an endless source of aid and inspiration. If things aren’t going so well, get quiet with yourself and check in with your spiritual source. It may take a while, but the answers will come.
And her idea of blissful happiness is..
I have good days and I have bad days, but I have to say my life is pretty wonderful as it is. I make my living as an author, I write a series I’m passionate about and that readers are passionate about, I live with a brilliant and talented creative partner, I have a great family and great friends, I travel frequently as part of my work, I’m often given the opportunity to teach wonderfully creative people in interesting parts of the world. “Frenetic” is sometimes a better word to describe it than “blissful” – but it’s still pretty amazingly good.
What is on your bucket list?
Well, my partner shares my love of travel so we’ve got a long list of adventures to come! Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Egypt in general, Moscow, anywhere we can see the Northern Lights….
And personally I’m very committed to setting the Huntress series up as a television series. [Now I'd like to see that!] I don’t think it would have been possible ten years ago; the themes are just too radical and challenging. But great television like Mad Men and Deadwood have pushed the envelope far enough that it may just be time.
Alexandra's favourite authors.
So many, but I love Mo Hayder, Tana French, Stephen King, Lee Child, Dan Simmons, Val McDermid, and Denise Mina. I am currently re-reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because the story takes on a whole different resonance when you’re living in Scotland!
We all want to know what her next project is.
I’m writing Book 4 in the Huntress series. It’s a struggle at the moment because I seem to be writing three different books at once. I think it will all become more clear to me once Cold Moon is out there and I start getting reader feedback. I learn so much from what readers tell me about the books!
(Read more about the Huntress series below.)
Connect with Alexandra on her blog, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.
Grab a copy on Amazon.
'Cold Moon' coming 5th May
Let's learn a little about this series of nail-biting thrillers.
What is the Huntress series about?
The Huntress series follows a haunted FBI agent, Matthew Roarke, on an interstate manhunt for a mysterious woman who may be a female serial killer. But as a former profiler, Roarke knows that female serial killers don’t really exist. So there’s a whole mystery not only about who she is, but about what exactly she’s doing and why.
If you’re new to this series I strongly recommend that you start with Book 1, Huntress Moon, and read the books in order. I’ve written them more as a serial than a series, and the action takes place one month at a time.
I love that in the Huntress series the protagonist isn’t exactly a villain, because she has a strong motive. What are Cara Lindstrom’s positive character traits?
Cara is absolutely committed to doing as much as she can to eradicate the human suffering perpetrated by evil people. She’s really pretty selfless about that, too. Other than that, she has certain skills, but I wouldn’t exactly call them positive.
You skilfully maintain the sexual tension between the hunter and hunted. What do you think the key to this balance is?
Thank you! I look at them as two halves of the same person. Or really, of the same soul. It’s a very romantic notion, the Platonic idea that each human being is half of one complete soul that has been split apart, and we spend our lives searching for our other half. If you believe that, you can well imagine how almost violently those two halves might struggle to find and join with each other, despite all odds, obstacles, and sense. So I think of Roarke and Cara as two halves of the same soul that are magnetized to each other; they can’t help themselves, even though actually uniting could destroy them both.
And the other part of their nature is that they are fighters, and they’re fighting the same battle, by very different rules. So together they are a powerful crime fighting team. (Others may disagree…)
How does the perception of events vary from Cara to Agent Roarke?
Cara lives very much in the moment and experiences life with a sort of magical realism. She believes in portents, in synchronicity, in animism, in monsters, in absolute good and absolute evil. Her chapters are written in present tense to capture that immediacy.
Roarke is a very intuitive man working in a very rational profession. So his way of seeing things isn’t always so different from Cara’s, it’s just been trained out of him. And some of it he’s rejected because it’s too frightening to live that way. He’s a lawman, but since he’s been tracking Cara he’s really struggling to keep a grasp on reality.
What is Agent Roarke’s greatest fear?
Great question! I think his greatest fear is that Cara isn’t crazy – she’s actually right.
Where do you draw inspiration for your settings?
The Huntress series moves from state to state, so far in the American West. But it’s based mostly in California, my home state, which I have always found staggeringly beautiful. It’s so great to have a whole series in which to explore locations that have enthralled me, and some that have haunted me. As a former theater director and screenwriter I am very driven to give settings thematic resonance. That’s easy to do in a state I know so well – I have a lot to choose from.
I spent a large portion of my childhood on the road; every summer my parents loaded the kids up in the station wagon and drove across the U.S. via different routes so we could get a sense of the whole country. So I take a lot of inspiration from that early wonder – the magnificence of the natural settings I saw on those road trips, and the very unique characters of really every city and town we passed through. I try to give my readers a sense of the beauty and mystery I felt about those settings.
Ask Alexandra any question you like for the chance to win an audio book of 'Huntress Moon'. The winner will be announced on Saturday 18th April.