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Q&A with Alicia Thompson - With Love, from Cold World


With Love, From Cold World

By Fiona Stephens


We are excited to welcome Alicia Thompson to The Reading Corner to talk about her new release With Love, From Cold World released on the 1st of August 2023.


She has a to-do list a mile long and falling for her coworker isn't on it--yet somehow he's become her top priority in this romantic comedy from the national bestselling author of Love in the Time of Serial Killers.


Lauren Fox is the bookkeeper for Cold World, a tourist destination that's always a winter wonderland despite being located in humid Orlando, Florida. Sure, it's ranked way below any of the trademarked amusement parks and maybe foot traffic could be better. But it's a fun place to work, even if "fun" isn't exactly Lauren's middle name.


Her coworker Asa Williamson, on the other hand, is all about finding ways to enliven his days at Cold World--whether that means organizing the Secret Santa or teasing Lauren. When the owner asks Lauren and Asa to propose something (anything, really) to raise more revenue, their rivalry heats up as they compete to come up with the best idea. But the situation is more dire than they thought, and it might take these polar opposites working together to save the day. If Asa thought Lauren didn't know how to enjoy herself, he's surprised by how much he enjoys spending time together. And if Lauren thought Asa wasn't serious about anything, she's surprised by how seriously he seems to take her.


As Lauren and Asa work to save their beloved wintery spot, they realize the real attraction might be the heat generating between them.


With Love, From Cold World

I’m going to dive right in. I would love to know, is writing your second book like the second album syndrome? How did this outing compare to ‘Love in the Time of Serial Killers’?


I know one part of ‘second album syndrome’ is often that the band has a lot less time to put together 10 songs than they did for their first album, and has to do it while touring, etc. In my case, that was a little bit backwards, actually, because I wrote Love in the Time of Serial Killers very fast and then spent much more time writing With Love, from Cold World. I do feel thankful that I was able to finish my second book before my first book came out, because I think that was helpful to stay in my little drafting bubble and not let reviews or promo or anything get in my head.


This is a dual perspective oscillating between Lauren, who is straight-laced, someone who is conscientious, someone who is detailed and organized. Counterbalanced by Asa, who is freespirited, loyal and sensitive. The dual perspectives really allow us to experience each character’s challenges and successes. And through the novel you realise there are some fundamental sympathies and similarities between them. How would you describe Lauren and Asa’s relationship?


You said it really well!! With Lauren and Asa, I was thinking a lot about how we might present a certain persona in a particular setting – for example, Lauren takes work very seriously and so while she’s at Cold World she is her most professional, reserved self. So that’s who Asa sees, but of course it’s not all that she is. And meanwhile, Asa seems like such a jokester at work, but he has a lot more going on underneath the surface, too, that you would only know once you got to know him outside that context. They are both very warm, caring people, but as long as they were locked in those work personas they couldn’t always see it. It’s not until they get locked in in another way that they get to really know one another. ;)


For the romance die-hards out there, this is a real opposites attract with a charming work place backdrop. Do you have any book or film recommendations that you feel deploy this trope expertly? Any that influenced the creation of Lauren and Asa?


I know I will think of ten more the second after I send these interview answers, but it’s hard not to immediately think of both The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren. The way that Sally Thorne built out Lucy and Josh, you could totally see why they sparked against each other so badly, but it also felt so natural once you realized the antagonism actually masked a very strong attraction. And the prank wars in Dating You/Hating You are unparalleled. I still think of her turning herself orange after he put bronzer in her hand cream every day of my life.


With ‘Love in the Time of Serial Killers’ and now ‘With Love, from Cold World’, we find the female main character as someone who is a little isolated from those around her. Estranged. They suffer from social anxiety. This was sensitively and authentically drawn out for me. What interests you about this characteristic?


It’s probably a shameless self-insert tbh. It’s just a feeling I know very well – that sensation that somehow everyone else has figured out how to exist in the world but there you are, awkward and weird and always saying or doing the wrong thing. But it’s funny, how the more I’ve opened up the more comfortable I start to feel, where if nothing else at least I know that there are a lot of other people who feel the exact same way. So let’s be awkward and weird together!


Cold World as a setting reminded me of the ice sculptures in the attic in ‘Edward Scissorhands’. Whimsy residing alongside the familiar. A winter wonderland in the middle of scorching Florida. The setting amplifying the contrary natures of the lead characters. But significantly this is a haven for those a little lost. A hub for the community through the stages of a person’s life. Which is threatened as it tries to keep up with the latest trends and appetites. What, do you feel, is the importance of a place like Cold World? Are there any reallife destinations that were a sanctuary for you?


OMG I could not love that comparison more. I love ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and have actually been to a few filming locations for the movie in real life (they’re not that far from me!). I love these places that are institutions for a particular area – like I love the idea that anyone growing up in the Orlando area would be able to meet up 20 years later and say “Oh my god, YES, Cold World, that was the place with the snow, right?” and have all these childhood memories of going there. And for the people who work there, too, it feels like its own little family. I still go to the same library I went to when I was a teenager, and it’s very comforting and nostalgic for me!


I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the backstories of the leads. Lauren’s storyline navigates guardianship. What kind of research did you do? Are there any organizations and resources you would recommend for those readers who would like to know a little more about this?


I volunteered as a guardian ad litem for a few years. In the United States, most states/counties have their own agencies that may have different names (if not guardian ad litem, CASA is another one you see a lot). If you google those terms and your county, you can probably find whatever organization is local to you, and the requirements may differ but generally if you go through an interview and training you can volunteer to become a child’s advocate as they navigate the foster care system.


Asa gave me strong Jeremiah-from-‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ vibes. An attractive and charismatic male lead that is bisexual. How important is chosen family for Asa? How did your own understanding shape Asa’s character? What are the key messages you would wish a reader to take from Asa’s journey?


Haha I love that because DON’T HATE ME but in the first season at least I was a little bit Team Jeremiah! Give me a sunny boy who isn’t afraid to talk to her and be her friend when she needs it. Conrad was broody and dreamy but at some point I was like okay you’re just being mean! Anyway, chosen family is very important to Asa, in part because of course his relationship with his family of origin is estranged and in part because as a bisexual man it’s especially important to him that he found a queer community. I’ve definitely found a lot of love and support myself within the queer community. As for what a reader could take away – if the family you were born into aren’t capable of loving your true, authentic self, that sucks. It’s hard. It's a pain that doesn’t go away. But there are people out there who will love you not despite of who you are, or not wanting you to change, but for exactly who you are.


Last but by no means least, what was your favourite track(s) from Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ album?


This is an impossible question. ‘Snow on the Beach’ is special to me only because I really do connect it with this book. ‘Karma’ will get me out of my seat dancing every time. I’m obsessed with ‘You’re on Your Own Kid.’ The bridge of ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve’ wrecks me every time. And a sleeper favorite might be ‘The Great War.’ The way she sings put a poppy in your hair, I don’t know, I love that song!


Where can readers pick up a copy of your book?


Hopefully most places where books are sold! I also actually just finished listening to the audiobook and think the narrator Lindsey Dorcus did a fabulous job bringing the book to life.



With Love, From Cold World

Alicia Thompson is a writer, reader, and Paramore superfan. As a teen, she appeared in an episode of 48 Hours in the audience of a local murder trial, where she broke the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children.


Alicia's Instagram: @aliciabooks

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