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    Guest Blogger: Alex Sokoloff

    Guests Icon

    I met Alex Sokoloff at Bouchercon this year where she became an honorary Good Girl as she moderated the Good Girls’ famous (infamous?) Get Unwrapped panel. Alex is back with the Good Girls today as our guest blogger. Enjoy! ~Sara

    Under The Influence
    By Alex Sokoloff

    Okay, here’s a game (since I know how the Good Girls love their games…)

    Who are your writer role models?

    Now, I don’t mean who influenced your writing style, although that’s a perfectly fine question to answer, too.

    What I mean is, who influenced your LIFE style?

    I’ll give you some examples, since I’ve been thinking about this lately.

    - Perhaps my earliest writer role model was not a writer, but she played one on TV. Rose Marie, on the Dick Van Dyke Show. I had no desire to be a writer at the time I was watching those reruns. I was actually more inclined toward being some kind of a biologist or vet – I had a virtual menagerie of dozens of animals as a child and would have been surprised to hear anyone say I’d grow up to be a writer. But one thing for sure – I knew I didn’t want to be Laura Petrie. No matter how much Rose Marie complained, and even though I cringed to see her fetching coffee, I still thought she had the great job – hanging out in a room with the guys and being creative and funny all day long. Plus dating after. And lo and behold, I end up spending a good ten years of my life as a screenwriter, often in a room with a bunch of guys, absolutely NOT fetching coffee, but being creative all day long, and yeah, often, dating afterward.

    - Another fairly early one, God help me, was Dorothy Parker. I think we all go through that phase of falling in love with her scathing poetry and defiant cynicism and emotional vulnerability. I’ve done performance readings of her stories for various stage retrospectives and reveled in the life and fire of her language. The glamour and wit and fun of hanging out with the Algonquin Round Table is a great fantasy that we all get a taste of at conventions like ThrillerFest and Bouchercon, and I think it’s hard for any woman not to see herself in those brutal alone-by-the-phone ramblings of Dottie’s. Now, I’ll refrain from going into detail about how I’m emulating her love life, but I do have this quiet but enormous pride that I’m following in her footsteps as a Writers Guild union activist. Every time I’ve wanted to get off that WGA/WriterAction merry-go-round I think of Ms. Parker and keep on keeping on.

    - Lillian Hellman, for sure my favorite American playwright. Notorious leftist activist as well. The whole thing with Hammett – not just for real, but fictionalized in THE THIN MAN. Do I seek out that kind of relationship out? Hah.

    - Anais Nin… yes, well, here’s where the writer lifestyle thing starts to get out of control. Affairs, incest, bigamy… do I really need to go there? Yet all that lush and overblown eroticism made for some amazing writing, and I can’t deny the influence.

    So, Good Girls, and FOGG (Friends of Good Girls) – who are YOUR writer role models?

    - Alex, guest blogging for Sara, who is in Germany for a White Christmas…

    17 Responses to “Guest Blogger: Alex Sokoloff”

    1. God, I’d love to say Anais Nin influenced my lifestyle, that girl did not have a boring life. I think I was influenced by Joy Adams, who wrote Born Free. I admired her vision. I’ve always been in awe of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) too. Maybe my secret dream is to have a farm in Africa, too. I treasure my first edition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea. I admired her sensitivity and strength, especially when I learned what she had to put up with married to Charles Lindbergh.

      by Maia Caron on December 20th, 2006 at 9:40 am

    2. I’ve always thought it would be much easier to be a Renaissance woman if I didn’t have laundry to do. In fact, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the idea that I would be much more accomplished had I had servants from the start, much as many writers I admire had. But I guess there’s a tad too much of the egalitarian in me to ever be fully waited upon, so I can’t say I emulate that lifestyle. Probably I’ll come close when the kids are grown because the hubby will stay at work until someone calls him, at which time he’ll look up and ask what day it is. Meanwhile, I’ll survive on cheese, pickles and olives and stay in pyjamas for three days and write.

      I was relating to a friend last year that I wish I had the nerve to be like Isaac Asimov and jump up from the table in the middle of a dinner party to crouch in a corner and write whatever great idea had just sprung to mind. The friend was not impressed. “You wouldn’t be very good company if you did that and we certainly wouldn’t invite you to many dinner parties.” But I wouldn’t mind passion like that on a day on/day off basis. Unfortunately, passion don’t work like that, do it?

      by Heidi Vornbrock Roosa on December 20th, 2006 at 10:18 am

    3. Wow, Maia - you’re an adventure writer kind of girl, aren’t you? Those are GREAT author lifestyle models. I’ll have to rethink the decadent activist track.

      Heidi - have you ever considered just not doing laundry? (Thanks a whole lot for reminding me…)

      I don’t know if I’d be as compelled to write if I had servants, but I’d love the chance to find out. The fact is, you ARE writing, and I bet you’re writing with passion, and I think it’s awesome, literally, that you’re doing that and raising a family, too. Most men and women simply wouldn’t, and don’t.

      by Alexandra Sokoloff on December 20th, 2006 at 11:15 am

    4. They’ve been different at different times in my life, but these are the ones that pop up from memory:

      The usual suspects (from my early teens to my late twenties) - Ian Fleming, Kerouac, Vonnegut, I went through a Richard Brautigan phase for a few months, Hunter Thompson, Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler.

      Now throw in a few unusual suspects - Ernie Kovacs, Bud Schulberg, Bob and Ray, Dick and Bert, Firesign Theater, Billy Wilder and Stan Freberg.

      It’s awful crowded up there.

      by David Terrenoire on December 20th, 2006 at 11:17 am

    5. Every writer should have a past. Preferably somebody else’s.

      It’s funny, I look at the lives of the writers I admire, whose work has fed and inspired my own and I think, “Wow. You guys are fucked up.”

      You mention Anais Nin. The flip side for me would be Henry Miller. The fantasies of being a brash, iconoclast who’s more deftly honest about what he’s feeling, no matter how base or messed up it is, than I could ever be. But having his life? Dear christ, no.

      Or Pablo Neruda, Cummings, Rilke and the crazy, overwrought insanity of every other poet out there who’s had the balls to vent out their psychoses onto a page. There’s something wonderfully visceral about poetry that grabs me. But emulating their lives? Exile, depression, alcoholism? I’ll pass.

      So, in a sense, I suppose all the insanity of people like Fitzgerald and Hemingway did influence me. It got me to realize that that’s very much not what I wanted to be.

      I think the people who actually influenced my life and writing weren’t writers. At least, not primarily. I’m a big fan of people who look at life head on and say, “I will make this happen.” The ones that border somewhere between self confidence and arrogant narcissism. And some who take several steps across that line.

      I may not be able to meet that standard of brash, self assurance that makes things happen, but it’s something I’m working on.

      by Stephen Blackmoore on December 20th, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    6. David, that’s an amazing list. That’s what’s so much fun about hearing other people’s inspirations - the vicarious thrill of all that genius and, well, like Stephen says - insanity.

      Rejecting the insanity is GOOD. But a fantasy or two never hurt anyone, either…

      by Alexandra Sokoloff on December 20th, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    7. Well, for the longest time I wanted to write (and live) like Hunter S. Thompson. But I discovered that the more drugs I ingested, the less writing (or anything else) I got done. Then I saw the Good Doctor’s own writing turn from inspired gibberish to unfocused rambling gibberish, and I abandoned that idea for good. I went through a Mickey Spillane phase, but the wife objected to be slapped around and referred to as “Kitten.” Now as far as lifestyle goes, I want drink like Chandler, make money like Stephen King, and play the blues like David Terrenoire.

      by JDRhoades on December 20th, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    8. Ah, Dusty, you’re making me blush.

      I went out and played last night and it sure felt good. Second only to sex. The difference is, I can play music all night long.

      by David Terrenoire on December 20th, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    9. Yeah, that and the applause.

      by Stephen Blackmoore on December 20th, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    10. :lol:

      by JDRhoades on December 20th, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    11. Stephen,
      You mean you’ve never had the clap? Huh.

      I keep hearing about Terrenoire’s blues. I wish I could check it for myself.

      I went through my writers life influence phase… Dorothy Parker was one, as was Graham Greene, though I failed miserably at trying to live like Graham Greene, let alone write like him.

      Alex, you’ll get this, and don’t laugh too loud, but Scott Rosenberg is one. I can’t believe I’m saying it publicly. But I do think Scott is a genius and for a while I tried living like what I thought he lived like.

      Eventually, I grew up enough to realize it’s better to be a first-rate version of yourself, than a second-rate version of someone else… even if you suck.

      And lastly, I had no idea Sara was such a racist!

      by Guyot on December 20th, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    12. “Eventually, I grew up enough to realize it’s better to be a first-rate version of yourself, than a second-rate version of someone else… even if you suck.” - Guyot

      Damn, that is profound.

      by David Terrenoire on December 20th, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    13. I think it should go on a t-shirt.

      by Stephen Blackmoore on December 20th, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    14. I only try to be like fictitious people.

      by Keith on December 20th, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    15. Every year I’m invited to a boring high-brow Halloween party whose theme is to come as your favorite literary character.

      Last year I chose Mr. Bunbury, Oscar Wilde’s fictional invalid, and stayed home.

      This year I went as the Invisible Man.

      by David Terrenoire on December 21st, 2006 at 9:08 am

    16. Has anyone ever gone as one of Steinbeck’s rabbits?

      by Guyot on December 21st, 2006 at 9:55 am

    17. Highbrow literary types love the Coen Brothers.

      by Keith on December 21st, 2006 at 10:53 am

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