Sunday, September 9, 2012


I was first drawn to Alexandra Sokoloff by her book blurbs. I came upon them because one of her books was listed under the "Customers who bought this item, also bought," category on one of my book pages. She was very responsive to the idea of coming on the blog and I'm grateful to have her.

For those who don't know, Alexandra is the Award-winning author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and the new bestselling indie crime thriller HUNTRESS MOON. She is also a co-author of the paranormal KEEPERS series, with Heather Graham and Harley Jane Kozak. She is a Bram Stoker and Anthony Award nominee. The New York Times Book Review called her novels "Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre."

As a screenwriter, Alex has sold original thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, west, and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.

In non-fiction, she is the author of SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS (AND SCREENWRITERS!), and WRITING LOVE, workbooks based on her internationally acclaimed blog and workshops.

In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham's all-author Slush Pile Players and dances every chance she gets.

1 - You tend to write dark, suspenseful, sometimes even paranormal thrillers. What drew you to the shadowy side of the genre?

I think that all authors – and all people, really – are only working with a handful of themes in their work and their lives, and one of my themes is the question of how to deal with the evil in the world, and what evil actually is – nature, nurture, something spiritual or a spiritual lack? How do we fight it? How do we survive and triumph? So the darker side of the genre draws me because it lets me explore those questions. And I have to attribute the slightly supernatural bent to my growing up in Berkeley, which is a kind of supernatural place!

 2 - You’ve received praise from writers like Michael Palmer to Lee Child. How did those wonderful testimonials come about?

It’s one of the most magical things for me about being an author – that authors I admire now read me, even when I don’t ask!

 But if you’re asking on a practical level:

A – I never ask an author for a quote unless I’m a die-hard fan of theirs. You have no idea how many people ask me for blurbs who don’t even know what genre I write in – they haven’t even done that much basic research. I’ve read everything Lee Child has ever written and I didn’t ask him for a quote until I’d written a book that I knew he could recommend to his own readers without reservation. It wouldn’t make sense for him to blurb a ghost story. You have to take those things into account.

B— I write a great letter.

C – I only ask once. Authors are crazy busy 24/7 and they do NOT need seven follow-up e mails asking them if they’ve read your book yet. Once an author has agreed to take a look and you’ve sent the book, leave it alone. An author will blurb your book if they have time and if they love it. Those are two big ifs.

3 - Is there a common denominator for any good thriller?

The name says it all – above all, a thriller has to thrill. Personally I read mystery, suspense and horror for the intensity of the experience – the adrenaline rush, the feeling of being involved in a high-stakes adventure with possibly earth-shattering consequences, so that’s what I strive to create in my books. And there’s also for me the good and evil thing that I talked about, above. I need that in the thrillers I read as well as the ones I write.

4 - You made the move from screenwriting to novels for creative reasons. Are you a control freak, or has Hollywood become too predictable?

I don’t think I’m a control freak like some control freaks I know! Any screenwriter can tell you horror stories about how nonsensical and degrading the film development process is – they don’t call it “development hell” for nothing. At a certain point I realized that if I ever wanted to do the work I knew I could do, write the stories I knew I was capable of writing, I would have to do it somewhere else. And I have never been so happy with a decision I’ve made, ever in my life.

5 - What is your opinion of the level of success some of the new crop of Indie writers have reached, and is that good for the industry?

Is it good for the industry? I don’t know, but I do think the rise of indie publishing is the best thing that’s ever happened for writers, and for readers too, I believe. No one has to indie publish, and probably they shouldn’t if they’re not up for the incredible amount of work it is, work that writers aren’t necessarily used to doing. You have to be up for running your own business, essentially. But to have that choice? It’s like being let out of prison. More income streams for writers, more creative choices – it’s all good.


  1. Gary, thanks so much for having me and for the great questions!

    I didn't say this, but the first official blurb I got for The Harrowing was from Ira Levin, and when I opened his letter I just started screaming - my significant other ran in because he thought I was injured or murdered or something. But IRA LEVIN. That was when I KNEW I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

    I am grateful beyond words that I was able to connect with him before he died and tell him at least a little about how much his books and plays meant to me. Such a lovely man and such a phenomenal talent.

  2. Yes, Alex, I can believe you were an Ira Levin fan. He was a prolific writer and almost gets lost in the shuffle, but so many of his books were made into terrific movies.

    Thanks again for spending your time with me and I appreciate your thoughtful amswers.

  3. Hello Gary & Alexandra,

    Gary, you certainly have the knack of interviewing some of the most interesting authors in the business, and Alexandra you are definitely no exception.

    I especially enjoyed reading how authors you respect are now enjoying reading your work, truly magical indeed. I have heard (a little) about the screen writing business. You made a brave step to go out on your own, and I am delighted to hear that it has been a great success.

    I wish you both many further wonderful achievements in the business of writing.

    Thank you, Ross

  4. Thanks, Stuart, I try to find authors (like yourself)who I find interesting and talented. People who have a unique slant or a developing audience for their work. Alex sure fits the bill. Plus, it's great to create relationships with fellow writers who are on similar paths in this crazy world of publishing.

  5. Ross, I totally agree, Gary's blog is a great find!

    Whatever you've heard about screenwriting, it's about a million times worse! ;) But magical movies do happen, and it keeps people striving. Being an author is a much better fit for me, but I'll always love the movies.

    Thanks so much for stopping in and for your well wishes. Back at you!

    - Alex