Author Interview: Alyssa Cole

Rear Window meets Get Out in When No One Is Watching, a gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning. We spoke with author Alyssa Cole about the inspiration for the novel, indie bookstores that have supported romance authors, and more.

“Cole’s thriller exposes the underbelly of gentrification and prosperity, taking a searing look at systemic racism….Timely, groundbreaking, and thought-provoking, When No One Is Watching is essential reading for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”

Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

When No One Is Watching is in many ways a response to the gentrification I saw happening around me when I lived in Brooklyn—and all around the NYC area—and the disorientation it can cause. It’s also the result of years of researching Black people and other marginalized groups in American history for various books and noticing the terrible—and avoidable—patterns that often repeat.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?

The history! One of the biggest responses that I’ve had about the book is readers telling me that they didn’t know many of the historical facts Sydney uncovers in the book. Many of them were inspired to look into Black and Brooklyn history more when they were done with the book!

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I am! I love listening to audiobooks as I do things around the house, driving, and when I’m falling asleep. Having someone read to me still seems really magical! Some of my favorites are: My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Brathwaite and narrated by Adepero Oduye; Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh and narrated by Angela Dawe; Tempest by Beverly Jenkins and narrated by Kim Staunton; Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews and narrated by Renee Raudman; and The Bride Test by Helen Hoang and narrated by Emily Woo Zeller.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Independent bookstores and booksellers hold a special place in my heart because when I was first starting to get involved in romance writing, my local bookstore (WORD Brooklyn) was a place that held romance events that were always so welcoming. The Ripped Bodice, which for a while was the only romance-centered bookstore, completely changed the landscape for romance authors and treated our books with both professionalism and love, and now they’re joined by Love’s Sweet Arrow in Illinois. Loyalty Bookstore* is also a fantastic bookstore—I’ve been doing bi-weekly events with them over the course of the last few months and they’ve been a great way to connect with fellow authors and with our reader community in these really trying times.

*Note: Check out our interview with Loyalty Bookstore owner Hannah Oliver Depp!

Kelsey Norris is a writer and former bookseller currently based in DC. She enjoys travel, outdoor activities with her pup, and overcommitting to DIY projects. Find more of her work at www.kelseynorris.com.

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