Meet Carole Sojka

Mysterious Ladies are mysterious in many different ways. Today I’m going to tell you Carole_SisCrime_001004something about the life that led to my becoming one.

I grew up in New York City, went to Queens College there, and met my husband on a blind date. Do those still exist? Boris was exciting to me: newly discharged from the Navy, about to enter college, he read almost as much as I did, and had a taste for adventure and travel. He’d been stationed in San Diego and had lived off-duty with a friend who was a Formula One race car driver. That was the source of one of his first pronouncements: “When I get my engineering degree, I’m going back to California.” So I knew the future—and it sounded like fun. So after we married and he graduated, we moved to California—first to San Francisco, later to Southern California.

Together we spent two years in Somalia with the Peace Corps followed by six months traveling through North Africa and Europe. The Peace Corps was a great adventure for us at a time of hope in many newly independent African countries. I taught English as a second language to students who already spoke three or four languages, while I spoke only English and some “kitchen Italian” I learned from Hassan, our houseboy.

Our house in a beautiful town on the Indian Ocean had so many holes between the floor boards that Hassan cleaned by pouring buckets of water over the floor. We made friends with the town officials: the Harbor Master; the headmasters of the two local schools; the Police Chief, a large man with two wives and several stainless steel teeth; Italian teachers; and the District Commissioner, from whom everyone concealed their drinking of alcohol, forbidden to them as Muslims.

Carole-and-Gina-1ASomali children, knowing their market, dragged wild animals through town, sure we would buy them just to end their suffering. We had baboons, including Gina who thought I was her mother, and later became my rival for male attention; blue-skinned monkeys named Daniel and Nutmeg; and a beloved cheetah. One day I even bought a leopard, thinking it was a serval. Fortunately, the leopard escaped, and no leopard-related injuries were reported after he vanished.

Then we returned home to real life: adopting a baby boy we named Mark and earning a master’s degree in judicial administration that led to a career as the administrator in a public law office. We also rediscovered our love of traveling and over the years have visited thirty or more countries on every continent except the Antarctic—no museums there, I’m told.

I had avoided fiction writing ever since I overheard unkind criticism of an early short story, but I regained my courage, joined a writing group, found a terrific group leader and wrote a lot of short stories, becoming inured to rejection. I most liked writing mysteries of the kind I like to read: traditional whodunits with multiple suspects.

My first novel, A REASON TO KILL, was published in October 2014, and my second SO MANY REASONS TO DIE, just came out in April. Both are set in Florida—don’t ask—and feature a pair of detectives in a small town on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

I’m on the Board of Sisters in Crime/LA, the largest chapter of Sisters in Crime/National, a great group and very supportive of new writers. In June we’ll hold our every-two-year-CALIFORNIA CRIME WRITERS CONFERENCE, which is sold out. It should be a blast!

6 thoughts on “Meet Carole Sojka

  1. I enjoyed your first book, Carole. Looking forward to meeting your characters again. I didn’t know about your Peace Corps stint.


  2. Hello to a fellow SInC/LA member! I’m sure I’ve met you at one of the chapter events. What an exciting story about your travels! Looking forward to posting with you on this blog.


  3. Great story–and it’s your life! I’m trying to imagine blue-skinned monkeys … wondering how their story turned out, and the cheetah …


  4. What a fascinating story, Carole. I’m so glad you decided to move past the rejection – the world would have fewer good books in it if you hadn’t!


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