I am delighted to have author Alexandra Sokoloff here today as part of the blog tour for The Huntress series, which includes a giveaway of the set for one lucky reader. The series currently consists of Huntress Moon, Blood Moon and the recently released Cold Moon(click on the relevant titles to read my reviews). A very warm (you can’t see me, but I’m jumping up and down with excitement) welcome, Alexandra. Tell us a little bit about you… I’m the bestselling, Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker and Anthony Award-nominated author of twelve supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers, including the Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon series. Before I sold my first novel I worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood for ten years, selling original suspense and horror scripts and writing novel adaptations for numerous studios (Sony, Fox, Disney, Miramax), for producers such as Michael Bay, David Heyman, Laura Ziskin and Neal Moritz. I also teach the internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshops, based on my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbooks and blog. I’m a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley. Now I live half in California and half in Scotland, with the Scottish crime author Craig Robertson. Your inspiration for the Huntress series? In my time as a screenwriter I worked on several film projects featuring serial killers. One of my core themes as a writer is “What can good people do about the evil in the world?” – and as far as I’m concerned, serial killers are an embodiment of evil. So for several years I was doing research into the subject every way I could think of besides actually putting myself in a room with one of these monsters. And while I was doing all that research, one thing really jumped out at me about serial killers. They’re men. Women don’t do it. Women kill, and sometimes they kill in numbers (especially killing lovers or husbands for money – the “Black Widow” killer; or killing patients in hospitals or nursing homes: the “Angel of Death”) — but the psychology of those killers is totally different from the men who commit serial sexual homicide. Sexual homicide is about abduction, rape, torture and murder for the killer’s own sexual gratification. Then a few years ago I was at the San Francisco Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, always the most inspiring of the mystery writing 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. As I’m sure you can 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. And then right after that, there was Lee Child talking about Reacher, one of my favorite fictional characters, and it all got me thinking about what it would look like if a woman were doing what Reacher was doing. For one thing, it would be a lot crazier, because women just don’t DO that. But what if someone did? And that was it—instantly I had the whole story of Huntress Moon, and I knew it was more than just one book, but a whole series. Where and when do you write? I start work pretty much as soon as I wake up, really before I’m even awake. I’m a full-time writer and I work at home (thank God!) so usually I start at the dining room table, as I’m eating breakfast. Then my partner wakes up around noon and I cede the dining room table to him. He’ll write all day sitting in that one place, while I move around to most all the other rooms of the house. I can only stay about two hours in one place and then it feels like there’s too much energy in the room and I have to go somewhere fresh. (And of course, change clothes. I change clothes four or five times during my writing day.) I take a break for a workout most days, but aside from that I write all day long. Although a large chunk of that business day is also about promotion and administrative aspects of writing! On low motivation days I just stay in bed and write. Whatever gets the work done! Are you a planner or a pantser? I’m a total planner. I would never have worked as a screenwriter if I couldn’t walk into a meeting and tell the producers, executives and director the entire story from start to finish. So when I start a new book I use index cards and a three-act, eight-sequence story structure grid to start brainstorming a plot. The index card method is a very common plotting technique in Hollywood because you have to come up with full story ideas so quickly, sometimes literally overnight. It’s both the fastest and deepest way I know to outline a novel, and a lifesaver if you’re writing thrillers with lots of subplots. I teach the method in my story structure workshops, on my blog, and in the two writing workbooks that I’ve written, and I definitely practice what I preach. Did you set out to write a series or did it evolve that way? It was always a series in my mind. I was thinking of a structure like The Fugitive, where the main character, in this case my killer, was being tracked by a dedicated lawman who is conflicted about her motives, and she is constantly on the move and constantly in jeopardy because of the way she gets involved with people she meets along the way. Can we expect more in this series? I’m working on Book 4, Wolf Moon, right now – I just got back from a research trip in the Southwest. If I survive this one, there will also be a Book 5. Right now, that’s a big If. I’m really struggling with it! Do you do any research? If so, any sites or sources you care to share? I do tons of research – reading everything I can about the crime and/or arena I’m going to be writing about, doing the police or FBI procedural research I need to get going on the subject, and taking a trip to the locations I’ll be using. I think it’s my job as a thriller writer to give my readers a sensory experience and I want to be very specific about what a location looks like, sounds like, smells like, and FEELS like. I’ve been doing background research for the Huntress Moon series for years. I tracked down the FBI’s behavioral science textbook (Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives) before it was ever available to the public. I stalked psychological profilers at writing conventions and grilled them about various real life examples. I went to forensics classes and law enforcement training workshops. There is no way I could have written that series with any kind of accuracy if I hadn’t been doing that ongoing research for all of that time. The best research recommendation I can make for crime writers is Lee Lofland’s great Writers Police Academy, which is a weekend of hands-on classes in various aspects of law enforcement and forensics, specifically tailored to writers. Do you read inside your genre or out when writing? I read more non-fiction than fiction while I’m writing, but I’m always reading in my genre. I don’t have that problem you hear about with some authors – being overly influenced by other writers’s styles. It’s more a question of not having all that much time to begin with, so anything I do read has to be research, in some way. I read all the dark genres: crime, thriller, mystery, psychological horror, and some sff. And some literary fiction. Your author heroes? I love the psychological horror of such visionary authors as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. These days you can find that kind of complexity in authors like Tana French, Mo Hayder, Val McDermid, and Denise Mina. And Madeleine L’Engle was a huge early influence – in fact I’m doing a post just about her and A Wrinkle in Time on this blog tour! Thank you, Alexandra, for joining us today. It’s been a delight! You can connect with Alexandra on her website, blog, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.