Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Huntress Moon

My sister horror/thriller author Sarah Pinborough tagged me as part of the Next Big Thing blog hop, one of those community building/promotional things that authors do to get exposure and give exposure to the authors we're reading and loving.

Sarah is a UK diva, I mean writer, that I met in Toronto at the World Horror Convention. Female authors are few and far between in our genre (despite the fact that some of the brightest stars in the genre firmament are women: Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Daphne duMaurier, Charlotte Perkins Gilman...), and Sarah and I bonded right away. If you want a good scare, look no further, and she's recently expanded into the darker recesses of non-supernatural evil with her crime thrillers and TV writing. She's also wicked fun, and for the proverbial good time, I highly encourage you all to follow her on Facebook.

Here's the interview on Sarah's latest book:


So I'm up next in this blog hop, and I get to answer the exact same questions.

1) What is the title of your newest or next book?

Huntress Moon. The next is book two in the series, Blood Moon.

And I just found out this morning that Huntress Moon is one of Suspense Magazine's picks for Best Books of 2012!

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came to me at the San Francisco Bouchercon, always the most inspiring of the mystery conferences for me. One afternoon there were two back-to-back discussions with several of my favorite authors: Val McDermid interviewing Denise Mina, then Robert Crais interviewing Lee Child.  (Can you even imagine...?)

There was a lot of priceless stuff in those two hours, but two things that really struck me from the McDermid/Mina chat were Val saying that crime fiction is the best way to explore societal issues, and Denise saying that she finds powerful inspiration in writing about what makes her angry. 

Write about what makes you angry? It doesn’t take me a millisecond’s thought to make my list. Child sexual abuse is the top, no contest. Violence against women and children. Human trafficking. Discrimination of any kind. Religious intolerance. War crimes. Genocide. Torture.

That anger has fueled a lot of my books and scripts over the years.

And then right after that, there was Lee Child talking about Reacher, one of my favorite fictional characters, and it got me thinking about what it would look like if a woman were doing what Reacher was doing.  And that was it - instantly I had the whole story of Huntress Moon.

Because of course I’ve been brooding about all of this for decades, now. I've always thought that as writers we're only working with a handful of themes, which we explore over and over, in different variations. And I think it's really useful to be very conscious of those themes. Not only do they fuel our writing, they also brand us as writers.

With the Huntress series I finally have an umbrella to explore, dramatically, over multiple books, the roots and context of the worst crimes I know. And at least on paper, do something about it.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s never just one for me! Psychological thriller, police procedural, hard-boiled mystery.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I always see Kyle Chandler as Special Agent Roarke, but practically that wouldn’t happen. Maybe for a TV series.  If Russell Crowe were even remotely interested I'd die happy. And Christian Bale would work just fine!

Such a dearth of American leading men, and even fewer who can get a movie made! Ryan Gosling is too young but would be just about old enough by the time the movie actually went into production, and I think he's brilliant.

Then there's Viggo Mortenson, if I made both lead characters older. And who wouldn't do whatever it takes for Viggo!

I’m a longtime fan of Norman Reedus, which also would probably be more likely for TV. (He looks younger than he actually is!) . And speaking of The Walking Dead: David Morrissey? Yes, please.


If it’s a movie, Keira Knightly or Mila Kunis would be superb for the Huntress.


I would gladly rewrite the character as a little older for Milla Jovovich or Charlize Theron.


On the TV front, I've been impressed with Lauren Cohan and Summer Glau. 

And I am so hoping that Lindsay Lohan gets herself together and goes on to be the brilliant star she clearly could be. People forget or just don't know how many of our most beloved actors fell just as far as she has before they got a second chance from people in the industry who understand very well about demons and the perils of a too-early stardom.  I think she'd be great.

And Special Agent Epps – no contest. I wrote him with Idris Elba in mind. Constantly. Did I mention how much I love my job?

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A driven FBI agent is on the hunt for that most rare of killers... a female serial.

6) Is your book self-published or traditionally published?


7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It felt like forever! I started it two years ago, and maybe I actually got to a first draft back then, but then I had a whole lot of life - and death - intervene. I picked it back up at the beginning of this year and powered down and finished it.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

People who review it compare it to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Dexter - and the TV shows Criminal Minds and CSI and Luther, but I've always thought of the Huntress as a female Reacher. Only crazier. And the structure is definitely like The Fugitive.  But with a woman. Which means a hell of a lot more erotic tension.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See # 2 above!

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

I wrote it about a female serial killer – when arguably, using the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit's definition of sexual homicide, there’s never been any such thing. I wanted to explore that very point as a social and psychological issue, and that’s one of the tensions of the book. Is she a serial killer or not? What is she doing, really?

Also, it’s very clear that the vast majority of readers end up strongly sympathizing with, and empathizing with, or even falling in love with the killer, and most of them are surprised by that.

Also, if you've ever fallen for someone who is just wrong in every way and still irresistible... well, you might relate.


So for next week, I'm tagging five great authors who write fantastic female leads. I'm not going to say "kick ass" female leads because that's not what I'm looking for in a female protagonist, even if said female protagonist can indeed kick ass. Personally I want to see a woman who is strong and complicated in the ways that a real woman is strong and complicated, and that is rarely about being able to beat the living shit out of people. So here are some of my top choices in the category.

- Michelle Gagnon is a thriller writer who has recently brought her powerhouse female perspective and adrenaline-charged storytelling to the YA thriller genre with her latest, Don't Turn Around. Noa is a terrific teenage role model.

- Christa Faust knows noir backward and forward, and has virtually created a whole new direction for the genre and its characters. Angel Dare is an alt heroine who brings OUT everything that noir anti-heroines like Gloria Grahame were doing in a coded sense, and Butch Fatale takes the "two-fisted detective" archetype to a new meaning.

- As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am VERY picky about men writing "strong women", and on the dark side, Wallace Stroby is as good as it gets, both shattering and reversing noir gender stereotypes. His Crissa Stone series presents a thief who doesn't just hold her own, but leads and controls motley collections of doomed male gangsters. And I'm even more fond of Stroby's Sara Cross, who mirrors the classic noir paradigm: she's a truly good woman whose near-fatal flaw is a tragically bad man.

- Zoe Sharp actually DOES write a kick-ass female lead, Charlie Fox, who works as a bodyguard and makes the physical reality of her job perfectly plausible (I've learned a lot about self-defense from these two...) while she battles uniquely feminine psychological demons. And her new installment in the Charlie series is set in New Orleans!

- Rhodi Hawk combines psychological thriller, Southern Gothic, and a hint of the supernatural in her lushly written series, also set in New Orleans. Her latest, A Tangled Bridge, is just out.

Tune in next week as I blog about these wonderful authors, and I'll be linking to their interviews.

And this week you can find other The Next Big Thing Q&As here (as described by Sarah Pinborough).

Bill Hussey is an awesome YA author whose grisly Witchfinder series is well worth reading! Kids everywhere love it – adults too. Strange that someone so chirpy can write the death of children so well. That’s probably why I like him.

Suzanne McLeod is an urban fantasy writer (if we must use genres!) whose Spellcracker series from Gollancz have done tremendously well. A saucy minx. We drink together.

Jonathan Green is a prolific fiction and non-fiction writer who has covered a range of styles and genres in his time. He’s a steampunk king and a disco diva. I heart him.

My question to all you guys is a fun one today. Who would YOU cast in the book you're working on, or in your favorite book?  (You don't have to be as practical as I was, above, just go for it!)

- Alex

(PS:  To everyone who entered my Halloween giveaway drawing, I haven't forgotten you. My Jersey-based mistress of marketing was one of the many, many people who suffered severe flooding during the storm, and I don't want to press her on the contest right now; we'll draw winners and get the books out as soon as things have settled a little more back East. Thanks for understanding!)


Diane Schultz said...

I love the long teaser about Huntress Moon. Being named Diane (Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt), the two ideas appealed to me together, but reading how you got your idea at Bouchercon SF and then put it together is what really drives me to want to read this book. I think I get angry about the same things. But where my list might diverge, there I must do my own exploring and wreaking of vengeance.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Diane! I think this is what people are REALLY wanting to know when they ask an author the dreaded question, "Where do you get your ideas?" It's not the idea they want to hear, it's the moment that a whole billion ideas suddenly coalesce into a tellable story.

I think you'll like the book - please let me know!

Ellen said...

Casting books I love is one of my favorite games! Hard to have faith in Lindsay Lohan these days, but I do get it.

Charlize Theron is a definite Yes for the Huntress--not because she matches any particular associations I had reading it, but because Theron shows thrillingly different capacities with each role, and there's probably not much she can't do!