By Alexandra Sokoloff
BITTER MOON, Book 4 of my Huntress Moon Thrillers, is out this week, so thanks to Vicki for hosting this episode of my blog tour! To briefly catch up those just joining us, the Huntress books are intense psychological suspense, and take the reader on an interstate manhunt with a haunted FBI agent on the track of a female serial killer.
The premise gives me a chance to turn hated casual tropes of violence against women inside out.
My killer kills men. She’s killed lots of them. For years. But here’s the thing. Arguably there’s never been any such thing as a female serial killer in real life – the women that the media holds up as serial killers operate from a completely different psychology from the men who commit what the FBI calls sexual homicide. Isn’t that fascinating? Don’t you immediately want to know why?
Because let’s face it – women have a LOT of reasons to kill. And yet… we very, very rarely do.
I’ll give you a hint. Serial killers – those in real life, not in authors’ imaginings, are serial rapists who have graduated to murder. So like rape, serial killing is statistically almost exclusively a male crime. And that fact allows me to confront and explore the insidious effects of rape culture in the context of gripping thrillers.
One of the questions I’m always asking myself, my readers, friends, random people on Facebook – is – “What’s going to be the tipping point? What is it going to take for women, and society in general, to finally say, ‘Enough’?”
There’s been such a great momentum against rape culture building in the last couple of years. Young college women across the US, mostly sexual assault survivors, have done an outstanding, revolutionary service by exposing widespread official cover-ups of rape on university campuses – particularly the systemic protection of student athletes accused of sexual assault. These women’s efforts have launched Federal investigations on nearly 200 campuses to date, and have inspired President Obama and Vice President Biden to create “It’s On Us” campaign against sexual assault on campus.
So there was the groundwork. And back in March I thought the Brock Turner case would be the thing to really bring it home. I’m talking about the Stanford Rapist, a college --- whose sexual assault of an unconscious college woman was only interrupted by the intervention of a couple of good Samaritans – but who served all of three months in jail courtesy of Judge Aaron Persky, a Stanford alum who was more worried about how prison would affect the rapist than he was about how the rape had affected and would continue to affect the survivor - and any other women Brock will go on to rape. Because these guys don’t just do it once. Rape is a serial crime.
It was a perfect storm of white male athletic privilege and an old boy justice system that routinely lets predators like Brock Turner off.
I thought we’d finally reached critical mass of outrage on that one.
But no. We were almost mad as hell and not going to take it any more. Then a combination of several police shootings of unarmed African American men and the blatant racism of Donald Trump ignited Black Lives Matter protests. And once again, another sort of injustice took the national spotlight away from building protests against rape culture.
And I wondered – again– What is it going to take for a critical mass of women to say NO? Why aren’t WE taking to the streets?
Well, now it turns out that tipping point might be – MIGHT be – a presidential candidate on a hot mike gleefully recounting sexual assault, and then trying to brush that off as “locker room talk,” even as more than a dozen women have come forward to confirm the actual behavior, going back years.
Why that should have been the straw to break our collective back - out of all the things said candidate has said about any number of groups of people - is beyond me. But suddenly millions of women were on social media recounting their stories of first sexual assaults, and collectively realizing that for almost all of us, there have been far too many to even recall, much less recount. And yet again (I’m thinking Anita Hill’s accusations against Clarence Thomas) women are having to have this national conversation in which the men who love us have to be walked through how ubiquitous this abuse is for all of us.
And then in the last Presidential debate, the sexual-predator-in-chief called the other presidential candidate, the sane one, “Such a nasty woman.” Icing on a particularly lurid cake. Because we all know what he meant, right? I’ve been called all kinds of variations of “nasty woman” this summer. Every time I post anything political, which is pretty much all I’ve been posting for a year now, I know I’ll have to take time throughout my work day to deal with the trolls that swarm to my posts and call me (and many of my commenters) all those variations of “nasty woman.”
“Nasty woman” might just be the rallying cry we all needed. So many of us embraced those words with – I think relief is the word - because it was finally just out there. Have an opinion? You’re a nasty woman. Protest against oppression? What a nasty woman. Want equal pay for equal work? You nasty woman. Confront any man about anything that might be bothering you? Nasty, nasty woman.
I was thrilled this week that one of my favorite reviewers included this line in his review: “Alexandra Sokoloff’s feminist crime series features the ultimate “nasty woman” (in the best sense of the word).”
Nasty women are the finest women I know. And I hope – I really hope – all us nasty women are finally mad enough not to take it anymore. (As a headline read the other day: “Trump Finally Pissed Off the Wrong Woman. All of Them.”)
I’ll be wearing my NASTY WOMAN tank top this Tuesday, and praying for the fate of the world.
But it’s pretty clear to me, my nasty woman killer still has a lot of work to do.
About Alexandra Sokoloff
Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, and The Space Between; The Keepers paranormal series, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI Thrillers series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, Cold Moo, Bitter Moon), which has been optioned for television. The New York Times Book Review has called her a "daughter of Mary Shelley," and her books "Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre."
As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: Stealing Hollywood, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, West (the screenwriters union) and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.
She has presented her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop for conferences such as Left Coast Crime, Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of Australia, PASIC, YARWA, West Texas A&M Writers Academy, and weekend retreats throughout the country, and has taught film story structure at Otis College in Los Angeles.
Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham's all-author Slush Pile Players, and the UK-based Slice Girls, and dances like a fiend. She lives in Los Angeles and in Scotland, with bestselling Scottish crime author Craig Robertson. www.Alexandrasokoloff.com
About Bitter Moon
By Alexandra Sokoloff
Published by Thomas & Mercer (1 November 2016)
FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.
Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.