THE PRICE – in more ways than one…


Yes, finally, THE PRICE will be in fine bookstores everywhere on February 19 or 20, depending on… I’m not sure exactly what.

Don’t we love this cover?  It is so EXACTLY right for the book it’s – well, spooky.   Kudos to Adam Auerbach at St. Martin’s Press!!

I will be starting off my tour in Southern California tomorrow, teaching workshops at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego this weekend, then signing at the divine  Mysterious Galaxy on Tuesday, February 19th at 7 pm, and at legendary Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 20, also 7 pm.

Yes, there will be wine, as we most definitely need to toast the successful conclusion of the writers’ strike.

(Okay, more specifics about the book at the end of this post, but first, the topic of the day…)



So, the second book!

All the interviews have started, and as I’ve said before, there’s nothing like an interview to shock you into remembering why you write to begin with and especially why you wrote a particular book.

I wrote a blog here a few weeks ago about personal mythology and was delighted with all the thoughtful examples of ‘Rati personal myths.   I was actually struggling toward a topic of theme that I didn’t quite get to that day, so I will try it from a different angle today. 

I really do believe that as authors we only have a few themes that we’re working on, or working out, over and over again, and it’s useful to identify our personal themes, as people and as authors.

Well, one of mine is the deal with the devil.

This is a funny personal theme to have, considering that my parents are two of the most agnostic people I know and we really had no religious upbringing at all.   My sister and brother and I were taken around to different churches and temples and mosques and encouraged to go to whatever religious service was happening in whatever family our parents had pawned us off on for the weekend (KIDDING)… but, in essence, not a religious family by a long shot.

Nonetheless, I really seem to have a thing for the devil.

I don’t like the word.   "Satan" is much more, well, elegant.   But even Satan is too on-the-nose a term for the core concept that intrigues me.

Which is not about temptation, so much, but about what you’re willing to do for what you want.   

I honestly have no idea when this obsession started.   I was always into vampires as a kid (much more than I am today) so I guess the idea of forbidden passion and the price of unchecked desire loomed large, with big teeth.

I think I was also hit hard early on by Simone de Beauvoir’s famous statement, re: women artists – "The book or the baby."    That is, as a female artist you have to choose between the two.

Now, obviously two of my favorite writer/friends, Heather Graham and Allison Brennan, have driven a massive and multi-pronged stake into the heart of THAT little homily, but I didn’t know Heather and Allison in my formative years and I did see an alarming number of the wildly talented women writers and actors and designers I knew in college choose the family route and never find the way back to their artistic dreams and potential, and it disturbed me.   More than disturbed me, it ATE at me.

(Things that eat at you tend to turn up in your stories, don’t you find?)

And beyond all that – let’s face it.   Those of us with the need to write are pretty ruthless about it.   Writers aren’t particularly nice people.  We are often kind, and empathetic, and compassionate – but nice?   Not so much.  We are focused, we are determined, we are obsessive, we are relentless.   Some of us hide it better than others, but bottom line is – we have to be all those things, or we would never, never get it done.

And we make choices all the time that seem on the surface to be irrevocable.   We give up one thing to get another – all the time.   And… getting to the heart of it now: who here hasn’t whispered a little prayer that possibly is not meant for God to hear… about what we would really do for what we want?

So where does the devil come in? 

Well, it’s partly just sex, of course – if sex can ever be referred to as JUST sex.   If you’re going to sell your soul,or make a bargain that you’re going to spend all of eternity paying off, wouldn’t you rather it be to someone sort of dashing?

But also I’ve always thought that just as God is supposed to, the devil KNOWS you – knows the depths of your soul – knows the things that you want that you would never breathe a word about to another human being.

How intoxicating is that?

In fact, you could argue that the devil knows some things about you that you are going to great pains NOT to let God catch on to.   And that’s intoxicating, too.

So that’s the tension that draws me again and again to Satanic characters: the idea of an overwhelmingly erotic and all-knowing figure who knows you to your core – knows you well enough to offer you your most secret desire – at a premium price.

I watched SILENCE OF THE LAMBS again last night (probably my three-dozenth time) because I’m teaching with it this weekend, and you better believe that the deal with the devil is the driving theme and force behind that book and film.   A perfect depiction in every way, and not coincidentally, one of my five favorite books AND movies of all time.

Well, THE PRICE is all about the deal with the devil, too.   And it won’t be my last book on the subject, either.   My Satanic villain in THE PRICE knows exactly what a human being is worth, exactly the pressure points that will make them cave, exactly what every one of us is willing to do, for good or for evil.

And what would I be willing to do?

Hah.  Like I said – I’ll never tell a human soul.

But I hope THE PRICE will tease readers into thinking about it.

So several questions for today, and no, you don’t have to answer in writing:   

– – What have you given up for what you most want?   

– – What WOULD you give up for what you most want, if someone who really had the power were offering?

– – And less drastically (!) – what’ do you feel is one/are some of your recurring writing themes?

On the road, now.

– X



Here’s the scoop about the book, and you can read the first three chapters on my website, too.

What would you give to save your child?  Your wife?  Your soul?

Idealistic Boston District Attorney Will Sullivan has it all: a beautiful and beloved wife, Joanna; an adorable five-year old daughter, Sydney; and a real shot at winning the Massachusetts governor’s race.   But on the eve of Will’s candidacy, Sydney is diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable tumor. 

Now Will and Joanna are living in the eerie twilight world of Briarwood Hospital, waiting for Sydney to die, and both going slowly mad with grief. 

Then a mysterious, charismatic hospital counselor named Salk takes special interest in Will and Joanna’s plight… and when Sydney miraculously starts to improve, Will suspects that Joanna has made a terrible bargain to save the life of their dying child.


"A medical thriller of the highest order… a stunning, riveting journey into terror and suspense." 
    – Michael Palmer, bestselling author of THE FIFTH VIAL

"This heartbreakingly eerie page-turner paints a vivid picture of the struggle between reality and the unknown."
     – Library Journal

"A psychological roller coaster that keeps the reader on edge with bone-chilling thrills throughout."   
    – Heather Graham, bestselling author of THE SEANCE

"Beyond stunning, it is harrowing in the real sense of true art."
   – Ken Bruen, bestselling author of PRIEST

Watch the book trailer

More tour information is here, and being added to daily.


18 thoughts on “THE PRICE – in more ways than one…

  1. Ken Bruen

    AlexBrilliant cover and as regards the question, what would you give/sell to get what you wanted?. I try to keep in mind, more tears are shed over answered prayers.Having met many of the devil’s cohorts many times,I’d prefer to stay on the down escalator than do a deal with any of those demons. The devil you know etc.I saw some graffiti once that read, The Lord didn’t give me any class, let the devil give me styleI think I’ll forego the style, ‘The Price’ is too highLoveken

  2. Naomi

    I agree with Ken–I’d chose the down escalator as well. And the “baby or the book” issue? Can relate to your situation. All of my elders in my writing group had chosen “the book,” and I subconsciously didn’t know that it was quite possible to do both. But all of that can be remedied even in middle age. It just looks a little different than conventional routes, but to heck with conventional.

  3. Angelle

    Back when I was going through a tough time, a wise woman told me, “Don’t make any dark promises!” regarding what I would or wouldn’t do to get what (I thought) I wanted.

    Yeah, I’d say you could pretty much mine that material from now until Judgement. So to speak.

    Congrats on the tour – maybe if the stars align, I’ll see you at BookSoup!

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    “More tears are shed over answered prayers.”

    Wow. Never heard that one. THAT’S a theme.

    Ken, i expect you know enough about the devil to stay away from him, 🙂

    The devil is adept at showing up in all kinds of disguises. But maybe we always know.

    Naomi, I actually never wanted children so I didn’t think of that as a choice between things. But I do think that some of my female friends made the choice.

    On the other hand, maybe they just didn’t want “the book” enough.

  5. Louise Ure

    X, what a fabulous cover and the reviews are stunning!

    I’m not answering your first two questions, but the last — those themes I find cropping up in everything I write? Guilt, blame, responsibility, fault. Can you tell I was raised Catholic?

  6. JT Ellison

    They say be careful what you wish for. I’ve found that to be so utterly true this year. This is a great post, X. I love the way your mind works, and makes mine work.

    So excited about THE PRICE. It’s one of my most anticipated books one the year. I KNOW it’s going to be brilliant. Safe travels!

  7. Allison Brennan

    Fascinating and thought-provoking post, Alex. It’s funny you mention the choice of “baby or book” because I never had that feeling. I always had from my mom, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” I wanted kids early (I had my first at 24) because I knew too many of my mom’s friends who postponed kids for a career and then had difficulties conceiving, carrying and delivering. And, frankly, even if that wasn’t a consideration, I was MUCH more exhausted having with Brennan #5 at 34 than Brennan #1 at 24.

    What have I given up? Well, in Brett’s post I commented that I gave up raises and promotions when I started seriously writing (because let’s face it–we’re all writers but sometimes we play at it, and sometimes we are committed. It took me a few years to get committed.) I knew that would happen and made a sacrifice because I couldn’t take work home with me AND write at night/in the mornings. For my writing, I’ve given up some friends who didn’t understand that I couldn’t drop everything; and my kids have always had to make sacrifices–when mommy is on deadline, mommy has to work. But I argue, would you rather I work 9-5 and you go to day care after school or come home to an empty house?

    I find your fascinating with the devil interesting. I have a fascinating with good vs evil as well and it always shows up in my books–mine is the why. WHY do people do bad things? WHY are some people driven to stop them? Guilt also plays a role, as well as forgiveness and acceptance and learning that no man is an island, that there is someone who will love us for who we are, warts and all.

    In my supernatural suspense I really explored those themes more fully. I am Catholic, and I think that comes through in the supernatural without (I hope) being preachy or religious.

    I can’t WAIT for THE PRICE. I loved your book trailer and I love the premise. My oldest daughter is reading THE HARROWING for her monthly book report.

  8. Alexandra Sokoloff

    So Allison and Louise, why do you think I’m taking on Catholic guilt when I’m not even a Catholic?

    Maybe I should have done a whole other post on “the book or the baby”. I find Naomi’s and Allison’s responses really fascinating – what was told to us and modeled to us by the female figures in our lives. My mom, obviously, had children but I always felt that she could have been a great politician, and maybe I was just projecting a choice on her that was more about what I wanted than about what SHE wanted.

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Angelle, I love that phrase – “dark promises.” That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about, and yeah, I just see the results of dark promises everywhere.

    Of course, I do work in Hollywood. 😉

    It would be great to see you at Book Soup.

  10. J.D. Rhoades

    I’ll keep the answers to the first two questions to myself. Don’t want to give away my negotiating position.

    But themes? The Keller books deal with the effects violence, even “justified” violence against “bad guys,” has on people, especially the people who have to use it. There’s also a strong element in there about the corrosiveness of revenge.

    BREAKING COVER, and, as it seems to turning out, the WIP, are about identity, the masks people show the world, and how little we actually know about the darkness that lurks in some of the people around us.

  11. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Yeah, Dusty, your those themes are strong in your first books, but you’re really getting to where I live with the last one. Very excited to read it!

    Thanks, everyone! I’m having a very great time at the So Cal Writers Conference today. So into the teaching that I feel like I’m getting a break from writing even though I’m working.

  12. Zoe Sharp

    Hi Alex – loved the trailer – very eerie. The cover’s wonderful and best of luck on your tour for the new book!

    Writing’s a compulsion, not a choice for me, so I already give it everything. And it just keeps taking more.

    And recurring themes? The search for acceptance, respect, redemption. And maybe, in the next one, pure cold-blooded retribution as well …

  13. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Thanks about the trailer, JT. I keep wondering if I am raving about book trailers because I just want to have the excuse to do them! It just feeds my visual soul.

    Zoe, I would never have guessed those were your themes. Now I’m really intrigued…


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