Hey there, Murderati fans,
Alex is in Alaska at this year’s Bouchercon. I’ve been going through the archives and found this gem from last year. So, let’s get to know Alex all over again through the wonderful interviewing of former Murderati member Elaine Flinn. Elaine now has her own blog at http:/www.evil-e.org
PICTURE THIS: Gorgeous blonde mane, a body built for dancing (you should have seen her at ThrillerFest!), hands that play classical piano and can fly just as fast across a laptop producing screenplays and really scary novels and who do you see? Why, just my guest today – Alexandra Sokoloff – and she is about to set the vast world of mystery/suspense on it’s ear. Not only does Alex manage to scare the hell out of us with her new book – THE HARROWING – but she has also written, directed and acted in productions from Shakespeare to street, choreographed four full-scale musicals and spent a summer as a backup singer! But wait! There’s more! She’s worked for numerous Hollywood studios- adapting original and suspense thrillers for producers such as Michael Bay, Laura Ziskin, David Heyman and Neal Moritz. Her adaptation of Sabine Deitmer’s psychological thriller COLD KISSES was filmed in Germany by director Carl Schenkel.
This is what I call multi-tasking to the fullest! Oh, did I forget to mention that somehow she managed to graduate Phi Beta Kappa as well? Don’t you just hate people like this? I mean, don’t you feel utterly under accomplished? I know, deep down in your heart – you’re hoping to learn she has at least one or two faults – but even if she hasn’t…we can pretend, right? But don’t look too hard – none of my friends have faults. They’re all perfect. 🙂
So after you’ve listened in on my chat with Alex today – mosey over to her website and get the full story on this fabulous new writer – because she is – despite all her talents – one terrific gal! http://www.alexandrasokoloff.com
EE: I know everyone wants to know this, so my first question is: At what point in your life did you find it necessary to abandon the arcane and highly competitive catacombs of academia for the more welcoming and stable life of a screenwriter?
AK: I’m not sure I’d call the Los Angeles Juvenile Court System the catacombs of academia. Catacombs, maybe. I was teaching incarcerated and emotionally disturbed teenage boys in the lockup campus (yes, with this hair…) Wrangling emotionally disturbed teenagers was excellent training for dealing with Hollywood executives. Seems like a pretty natural transition to me.
Yes, I understand the suits can be a rather emotionally challenged breed. Your training did you well! I mean, you survived and lived to tell about it!
EE: While we all know you’re an accomplished pianist, is it true you listen to Handel whilst you write? I’m also told you hum along to the Hallelujah Chorus when that new paragraph just ain’t going the way you want. As you can tell, I have spy’s everywhere.
AK: Accomplished pianist – NOT. I do love doing the gang bang Hallelujah Chorus thing at Christmas, actually, but darling, you can’t think that I’d come up with the stuff I write if I were listening to Handel while I wrote it?
Hmmm, well, I kinda thought my spy was a bit off – but then – he’s new, so I’ll overlook this for now. But not long. I demand accuracy!
EE: Uh, Alex? You wanna tell us about that year in Istanbul when you were sixteen? Or, do you want to save that for another time? 🙂
AK: Seriously, it was very hard. I was blonder than I am now and so, so obviously American. I was harassed everywhere I went – abduction attempts – not fun. But that’s the year that I threw every practical plan out the window and decided to go into the theater, because life’s too precious not to do what you love. And Istanbul itself is a phenomenal city – it was life-changing.
Life changing?? How about life CHALLENGING?? Abduction attempts?? Aieeee! But wait. There could be a story here. I can see it now…Jude Law is at an outdoor cafe at the Grand Bazaar, in the main great bazaar commissioned by Suleyman…sipping thick Turkish coffee, pondering his life when he witnesses an attempt to kidnap a young girl. He springs to action… I mean, think about it, okay?
EE: Whew. I’m still thinking about Jude – but we can talk about him later. Let’s get back to the writing life for a minute. When the last page is written-and you’ve sent the manuscript off to your editor – and you’re ready to lax out – what is your favorite retreat? And what do you do there?
AK: The most relaxing thing for me is to blow out dancing. And – anything on the water. So the perfect combination is this great swing dance weekend that happens every summer on Catalina Island. There are classes in all kinds of dance all day, and dancing to the big bands all night in the Avalon Ballroom – THE most romantic dance venue I’ve ever been in – huge octagonal floor under a domed ceiling, a 260 degree view of the ocean from the wraparound balcony – just magical!
Ah, Catalina Island! I know it well. And you’re so right – it is magical! And there’s something about big band dancing that is entrancing. It conjures up images of Fred & Ginger, don’t you think? And those wonderful days -Those late, great days of Hollywood musicals – where have they gone?
EE: Okay, it’s time for your Walter Mitty Dream! Keep it sorta clean, okay? We’re all for dish, but some dreams are best saved for – well, later.
AK: I thought this WAS my Walter Mitty Dream! You know, I’m really not getting enough sleep.
What? Being here at OTB? Or writing what is sure to be a mega seller? Oh, being here? Gosh. You are too kind. Really.
EE: Word on the street is you went into a fit of depression when you only graduated Phi Beta Kappa. I mean, I know who disappointed you must have been, but surely you’ve put that behind you.
AK: It was too surreal to process. My extracurricular activities had been so extremely – well, extreme – that the possibility had never occurred to me. I still have dreams that I haven’t graduated. Not that anyone’s ever asked to see my degree.
Only a cretin would ask! But about the dreams – think about Jude rescuing you from those nasty kidnappers- and then maybe improvise a bit? Surely that would work.
EE: Rumor has it John Travolta is begging you to teach him ballet for his next film – but you turned him down. Was it because you just couldn’t envision him in tights, or what?
AK: I don’t have the slightest difficulty in imagining ANY man in tights – I have this Elizabethan fetish. I wouldn’t presume to teach JT anything about dancing – but I’d dance with him any time, any place, anywhere. Can you set that up?
Can I set it up? Darling, you are talking to moi! Consider it done. John and I go back, you know?
EE: My favorite little spy told me that you’re working on new lyrics for a duet with Paul Guyot for next year’s gala at ThrillerFest, but Guyot wants to make it a trio thing and have Tony Bennett do backup.
AK: I have no doubt Guyot would be up for a trio thing, but Tony Bennett wouldn’t have been my first guess for a third. Works for me.
You sure about Bennett? I mean – I can talk to Guyot. Between us – we could pull a few strings and get someone else. I hear Wayne Newton is writing a thriller and could use the exposure.
EE: Suspenseville is abuzz about a certain few female writers jealous of your glorious blonde mane and are intent on having a ‘Sokoloff look’ – care to offer a few tips here?
AK: My hair does whatever it wants to – I just follow along. I have no control whatever. How do you think I get into these situations I get in?
Oh, it’s your hair that gets you into…well…uh, situations? What the hell, I’ll buy that.
EE: I understand you have a fetish for avoiding cracks in the sidewalk. No – don’t ask who told me. I don’t reveal my sources – but he’s very high up in the…well, the industry, okay? Anyway, isn’t that a little tough when wearing those to-die-for spike heel boots of yours in New York? Is that also a problem in Raleigh? How do you manage?
AK: My street boots are very well constructed, actually, because I like to walk places whenever possible. I save the spikes for – indoors.
Hmmm. I think he set me up with that question. I wonder if he’s reading us today?
EE: Okay, Alex – now that you’ve left LaLa Land behind, and are now a full-fledged suspense writer, who would be your ideal panel mates at the next ThrillerFest?
AK: Anyone in the Killer Thriller Band, of course – I can’t get enough of them. But ITW is such a candy store, don’t you think? So how can you begin to choose? Can’t we all just dance this year instead?
Ah, yes. The Killer Thriller Band! Can’t blame you there. Candy store? Oh, darling – my sweet tooth was never so sated! I like your idea of just dancing – let’s start a conga line next year!
EE: My most trusted spy told me that you’re no longer accepting calls from Clive Owen. Is it because he’s driving you nuts with his constant entreaties to be written into your next book? Surely you can find a spot for him in THE PRICE! Alex! I mean – CLIVE OWEN???
AK: Elaine, you’re a genius- Clive Owen would be perfect for THE PRICE. But as the hero or the devil? Hmmm. I just love ambiguity in a man…
Yes, it’s true – I can be a genius now and then. It’s so kind of you to remind everyone. But getting back to Clive – the hero, of course! But…ah…with maybe a little devilish twinge lurking? Those eyes of his…that sexy accent…those…
Note to readers: Hot flashes overtook me at this point and I had to stop the interview. Alex, however, was making notes to include Clive in her dreams along with Jude – we both agreed the combination was a sure-fire way to end her nightmares about that graduating thing. I eventually regained my equilibrium and continued the interview.
EE: Now Alex, this is serious: Whispers are rampant that a certain NYT Best Seller followed you all over Bcon in Madison last week, and that you finally had to tell him to take a hike. Tough to do – ’cause the guy is really a hunk, but I’m proud of the way I heard you handled it. But spilling that wine on him was an accident, right?
AK: I’m having trouble keeping track of who I was stalking and who was stalking me. In any event, we’re writers, and we call that ‘research’. No wine was harmed in any of these incidents.
Ah, a lady with discretion! Isn’t that nice to find these days? Okay, we both know who it was – so we’ll just leave that alone. Not that I expected you to name him you understand – I was just hoping you might give us a few specifics. A little dish to chuckle over….but hey, that’s fine. Glad to hear about the wine, though.
EE: Okay, here’s a question I ask every guest – and I ain’t letting you off the hook – so – which writer would you loved to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at next year’s ThrillerFest? Now the bar at the Grand Hyatt isn’t all that big, but I sure as hell know you can handle more than one, so be my guest.
AK: Seriously, the amazing wonderful thing about these cons is that you really don’t have to choose. Line ’em up. Have I mentioned how much I love this job?
Now that’s what I call a clever non-answer answer! Notice how she skirted that one? "Line ’em up??" Oh, to be young again – to be blonde and…
EE: You’re having six guests for dinner. Who would they be, and what would you serve? Your guests don’t have to be alive…er, I mean – I know you’re a spooky writer, but they can be historical personages too.
AK: To my left, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. To my right, Shakespeare, Elizabeth R and Oscar Wilde. However, I’m not cooking. Believe me, it’s better that way.
Now that’s a dinner party I’d volunteer to cook for you!
My thanks to Alex for being such a fun guest -for taking time to play – and to wish her all the success in the world with her debut – THE HARROWING. This is another book that requires leaving the lights on! Don’t miss it! This will reel in the noms. Remember – you read that here, okay?