Today, the Femmes Fatales welcome the award-winning author, Alexandra Sokoloff. She writes the Huntress/FBI Thriller series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, Cold Moon, and on Nov. 1, Bitter Moon), which have been optioned for television. Leave a comment – she's giving away the first three books in this series.
I admire Alex for her outspoken stand, but some Femmes cannot be associated with any political position or stance because of their work. For the record, this is Alex's opinion, and not the opinion of the Femmes Fatales blog -- Elaine Viets.
If You Want to Send a Message . . .
By Alex Sokoloff
Trigger warning: Politics
There’s a rule you hear inflicted on writers all the time: "Never talk about politics."
Why? The unstated, or sometimes bluntly a stated answer is: "It’ll lose you readers."
Hah. No chance I was ever going to follow that advice. I went to Berkeley. Seriously, do you think I’ve ever been quiet about politics in my life? Politics is who I am.
And this political season it’s been even more impossible than usual to avoid talking about politics on social media. As my Facebook/Twitter followers know, I’ve been compulsively posting about the election. (When I post, I’ve had to carve out enough time per day to deal with the unrelenting trolling – a large part of it frighteningly misogynistic. No one likes a nasty woman, right?)
Has that political posting lost me readers? Probably a few. But anyone who doesn’t like what I have to say about Trump will very probably not like my books anyway, being that there are actual thinking, feeling women in them. And I can’t NOT do everything I can with the platform that I have, being that the future of our democracy is at stake.
Have I been punished? Well, sometimes after a particularly blistering Facebook exchange I get a suspicious one-star review on Amazon (from someone who apparently doesn’t understand that once a book has a certain number of rave reviews, the occasional one-star actually helps the author. Heh heh heh.)
But we’re not just supposed to avoid politics on social media. All authors, screenwriters, playwrights, are familiar with the Goldwynism: "If you want to send a message, use Western Union."
In other words, keep politics out of your books (films, plays…)
But if Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck had been that timid, we wouldn’t have Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities or The Grapes of Wrath, would we?
No way am I saying I’m that level of classic! But my favorite thriller authors – Thomas Harris, Lee Child, Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Michael Connelly, just to name a few – often directly address political and social issues in their thrillers.
Personally I’m bored senseless by books, films, plays, that don’t have a strong thematic, social, moral, political conscience. I really believe in writing what you love to read.
But there’s a trick to writing political/social commentary in fiction. You can’t just lecture your readers. If I may quote from another classic: "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…"
In our case, we mystery/thriller writers, that spoonful of sugar is adrenaline. We need to give our readers a ride so fast and suspenseful that they are hooked before they realize there’s actually a moral to the story.
I toiled as a screenwriter before I started writing novels, so I’ve been a professional writer pretty much all of my adult life. And after more than twenty years as a professional writer, I finally felt like I have the chops as a thriller writer to write politically.
I conceived my Huntress Moon thrillers as a vehicle in which I could put all of my rage about rape culture and other sociopolitical atrocities into one unputdownable package. I’ve taken the familiar trope of an FBI profiler on the hunt for a psychopathic killer - and turned it inside out. My killer is a woman who kills men. Lots and lots of men. Which allows me to eviscerate conventions of violence against women - and force readers to face uncomfortable moral questions about evil and justice.
My mission is unrelentingly political dissection of the worst crimes of society - in the context of a gripping - and even heartbreaking - thriller. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my years in theater and film, it’s that minds are truly changed not through intellect, but through emotional engagement. (Something the orange menace knows too well…)
Has that lost me readers?
Hardly. The Huntress thrillers have been the bestselling, most critically acclaimed books I’ve ever written. They’re being developed as a TV series, with me on board as an executive producer. When you actually have something to say, people listen.
I reached a point that I could meld my craft as an entertainer with my passion for social reform.
So when people tell you to stay away from politics? Consider why they’re trying to silence you.
As authors, we owe our readers nothing less than our truth, and our passion. And as human beings – we owe the world nothing less.
Buy the Huntress Moon/FBI Thrillers here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011M9AOBM?keywords=huntress%20moon&qid=1451693113&ref_=sr_1_1_ha&s=digital-text&sr=1-1