Regular Open Mic readers know I am a big fan of paranormal thriller author Alexandra Sokoloff. For today’s edition of the Open Mic Creativity and COVID-19 Special Project, I check in with her to see how things are faring for her and her husband – the fantastic crime fiction writer Craig Robertson – as they are on lockdown in Scotland.
OM: You and your husband Craig split time between the U.S. and Scotland. Have you noticed a large difference between how things are there and how they are in the States?
Sokoloff: Scotland is quite different politically from England, especially with Tories in charge there, not good in normal circumstances, much worse in a pandemic. But our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is a grown up and has responded seriously to the threat from the beginning. In Scotland we’re in lockdown, schools and businesses closed, no public gatherings (just extended for another three weeks minimum) and my personal experience is that people understand the stakes and are following the rules: only going out for one session of exercise per day, practicing social distancing, shopping as little as possible, keeping the focus on helping the NHS and not doing stupid things to spread this.
England has been much more lax, as is obvious from their infection rate and death toll.
But we can only watch in horror as the U.S. goes off the Coronavirus cliff. California under Newsom has been great, so far really limiting the potential spread. But a lot of the rest of the country seems to be intent on committing mass suicide.
Another thing about here vs. there: there are no moronic militias backed by right wing donors waving their guns around and whining about their liberty – the liberty they’re doing their damnedest to deny to anyone not white and male.
No guns, no gun owners = no gun worries. The peace of mind is pretty blissful.
OM: Your creativity goes well beyond writing books – you are also a screenwriter, a teacher and a dancer. How has all this impacted your creativity in any of those areas?
Sokoloff: Well, the dancing has been great because all the dance teachers immediately went online with Zoom and YouTube classes, so I’m able to take my favorite LA dance class every night in my living room. Dancers are going to dance.
The teaching – I’ve been meaning for years to put my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop online, via YouTube videos, only who has the time? Well, guess what? J
It only took a pandemic to make me do it. What I teach is how you can write better books by watching movies and learning from the storytelling tricks of your own favorite filmmakers. So it’s perfect for lockdown, when we’re all watching so many more movies. Might as well get some great writing out of all this. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx4YhQgg89rj0mryt1M02tw
Screenwriting is a bigger question mark at the moment. Hollywood is scrambling to figure out how to operate safely. But since these days I write the books first, it doesn’t really affect me in the same way it’s devastated so much of the industry. I can concentrate on the books.
OM: You are also a very spiritual person who has worked tirelessly on social justice issues throughout your career. This situation has been very frustrating for a lot of us because of how much it has been turned into a partisan political issue rather than one of science and public health. Is this something you would ever write about?
Sokoloff: It is a partisan issue, though, in that we all have to deal squarely with the fact that one political party has largely rejected and vilified science and replaced it with outright superstition. I’m not sure a science-themed book would be my own approach, although I’ve written parts of that cult-like attitude into the last two Huntress books. Luckily we’re seeing thinking people in that party loudly rejecting the culprits. That might have more effect than anything the rest of us can do. But yes, one way or another we have to fight for science.
OM: A lot of the writers I have spoken with have said they avoid the news as much as possible. Others are very immersed in it all. How have you managed your news intake?
Sokoloff: I have had to be very limited in the news I read and watch since that monster started occupying the White House. When lockdown started, I admit, for the first month I was doom-scrolling. I think we were all scrambling to take it in – and there was so much chaos and conflicting information, and outright lies from the US and English administration. And because I was sick (yes, we got it, fine now) and mostly in bed for a month, it was easy to just succumb to media overload. Now I set time limits and nothing before bed. I only read news, though – I won’t watch anything but Cuomo and Newsom briefings.
OM: You always have a lot of irons in the fire. Will we see a new book in the near future? Like perhaps a new one in the Huntress series? (Please say yes!)
Sokoloff: I’ve actually started a new series that will probably be another six books. It’s massive, historically based, so the slower pace of life in lockdown is giving me a chance to do justice to it. Hopefully! But it is there in the back of my mind that Cara, the Huntress, and Roarke, her FBI pursuer, would be emerging from where I left them into a pandemic world and all the chaos that unfortunately is yet to come. It’s tempting!
Sooner than that, though, I am thrilled to have a story I really love in the first anthology from Nasty Woman Press, SHATTERING GLASS, releasing June 16 with all profits going to support Planned Parenthood. One of those high school football teams that shouts “Build that wall!” at non-white teams gets more than they bargained for with “The New Girl.” Huntress fans will like it.
Pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0889CXN9H/