Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Interview with Alexandra Sokoloff

The ladies of WebbWeaver recently got an opportunity to talk with Alexandra Sokoloff, author of Book of Shadows, and here is what she had to say.

WW. You have a blog, Screen Writing Tricks For Authors, and are the founder of, an on-line screenwriter’s community. You are also a regular contributor on How important is it for you to give back to the writing community on these forums?

AS. As you know, blogging isn't an entirely selfless activity! It's considered necessary promotion for authors (how absolutely true that is, I can't say). But I'm extremely lucky to have found two blog niches in which I actually can give back to the writing community. Murderati was one of the mystery blogs that took off at just the right time and so we've never had to self-promote - we've had the opportunity to build a real community of authors and readers and we work together as a team more than a lot of groups seem to; I'm privileged to be a part of it. My own blog, Screenwriting Tricks For Authors, came out of the feeling I had that nobody would want to read me just rambling on about myself, so I started posting notes and techniques from the workshops I was being asked to teach on story structure, and it evolved from there into an international following and a workbook of the methods. WriterAction was more fueled by political activism; the Writers Guild is a union, an extremely political entity, more so than authors can possibly imagine, and at the time there was no online forum for WGA members, despite the fact that we were headed into a critical contract negotiation. So it seemed a no-brainer to me to have a private bulletin board for screenwriters to communicate with each other, but no one else was doing it.

WW. What has been the absolute oddest request made of you, by a fan?

AS. I get "Please wear that dress again" a lot. That's not so odd, really, considering the dress.

WW. How did you get started in the all-author, Killer Thriller Band?

AS. That was something that mystery writer and rock concert producer Bob Levinson put together for the first Thrillerfest. It's amazing - or maybe it's not - how many authors were also professional musicians at one time or another. A lot of us from KTB evolved into the band that's part of the Slush Pile Players, now.

WW. Can you tell us a little bit about the Slush Pile Players and when and where fans might get an opportunity to catch one of the performances?

AS. The Slush Pile Players are Heather Graham's traveling theater troupe, made up of authors and quite a few of Heather's wildly talented children (adult children!). For years Heather's been writing these wacky musical revues for the Vampire Ball at Romantic Times Booklovers Festival; the Slush Pile Players are devoted to doing whatever is going through Heather's brain at the time. This often involves stunts like wearing pink flamingo costumes or impromptu pole dancing. Really, she must be using hypnosis or something. RT is in LA this year, April 6-10, and yes, there will be pole dancing.

WW. Can you give us a little insight into your writing process…any odd or unusual rituals that allow you to focus or write more comfortably?

AS. Obviously, front-loading the coffee in the morning to turn off the internal censor. I don't often sit at a desk; I write lying down on the couch a lot, or on a trying day, in bed. It keeps me from having back problems and the cats love it. I don't have any weird rituals that I know of but I do religiously use the index card method and eight-sequence structure techniques I detail on my blog and in the Screenwriting Tricks workbook.

WW. The Keepers Trilogy is a series of books written by you, Heather Graham and Deborah LeBlanc. How did the three of you decide to embark on this endeavor together?

AS. Harlequin asked Heather if she'd consider doing a trilogy with two friends, and Deb and I do the same kind of cross-genre thing that Heather does, mystery/thriller/supernatural, so Heather thought we could come up with something spooky and cool. HQN wanted vampires and werewolves, and since all three of us are in love with New Orleans, it was a natural arena for us to work with - a place where supernatural beings could live fairly exposed lives and never have anyone give them a second glance. And who wouldn't love to work in one of those mystic shops in the French Quarter? So we started with three sisters who own a shop like that, who have an ancestral duty to keep peace between the human and paranormal communities; we threw in a third community of shapeshifters, some criminally hot vampire, werewolf and shapeshifter men that the sisters have to team up with, and we had The Keepers. (

WW Can you tell us the names of a couple of books that you’ve read in 2010, that really stood out for you and why?

AS. Oh, so many. I loved RJ Ellory's, A Quiet Belief in Angels - very poetic and emotional historical noir. I've just finished a YA so have been reading a lot of that, and Melissa Marr's, Radiant Shadows is her best yet, I think, she's going darker, which I love. I was also very impressed with Suzanne Collins', The Hunger Games (okay, I'm behind) - it's such an incredibly great idea and beautifully executed. I think Lee Child's, Reacher books just get better and better - he keeps finding more mythic layers to the character. And of course I buy any Denise Mina and Mo Hayder the first day out.

WW. We see that you have written in several different genres. Is there a particular one that you enjoy writing in the most?

AS. I think I write cross-genre because I never have been able to decide. I most like to read a cross between mystery and supernatural thriller, and that's mainly what I write, but I like any dark and ambiguous story, or ones that have a cosmic mystery, like Tom Stoppard's plays. For my own writing I most enjoy creating a situation in which a reader is constantly guessing whether something supernatural is really happening or if the heroine is having some kind of psychological breakdown or if there's some kind of criminal activity going on. I really walked the finest line with that ambiguity in my latest, Book of Shadows.

WW. With the heightening demand for e-book format, what direction do you see the publishing industry heading in?

AS. Hah - if I knew that, I could retire, couldn't I? It's a revolution. I try to keep focused on the storytelling.

WW. Have there been any talks of adapting your novels for the big screen in the US?

AS. Oh, always, but with Hollywood, you have to celebrate the interest or the option and then let the expectation go. Same answer as above, really: Stay focused on the storytelling.

You can learn more about Alexandra and her work on her web site at and you may purchase her books at