Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

240. Extraordinary Optimism Through History: An Interview with Alyssa Cole

Sarah chats with author Alyssa Cole about her much-anticipated new book, An Extraordinary Union, an espionage romance set in the Civil War. They discuss the behind the scenes details of the cover development – and the cover is stunning, so it clearly all worked perfectly. They also talk about persevering through painful history, finding inspiration and comfort in how humans have overcome and pushed forward despite terrible  obstacles, researching and writing about historical figures that many people don’t know about, and the real individuals who inspired different aspects of her characters. Plus, they have a lively conversation about Alyssa’s living abroad in Martinique, immigration, culture shock, language barriers, and feeling at ease in a community.

Sometimes the connection was uneven and there are some crackles in the audio – my apologies. Alyssa lives in the caribbean, so it was a long, long, very long distance recording!

Read the transcript

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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

Links! Lots and lots of links!

Alyssa also mentioned the following figures and events in history:


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Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Queens.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes.

And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.

Podcast Sponsor


The podcast this week is brought to you by author Tracy Ewens, whose new book Exposure comes out March 28, 2017. Tracy knows you like romance, so she’d like you to know her latest contemporary romance has the following excellent pieces of catnip:

  1. A wildlife photographer heroine – Meg – who has recently moved back to San Francisco. She wants a life with more stability, where she can see her family more than once a year, and indulge in owning a toaster and using a full-sized tube of toothpaste.
  2. A famous hero with secrets! Westin is a famous actor known best for blockbuster movies in which he drives a menagerie of exceedingly fast cars. But West would kind of like his fifteen minutes of fame to be over: he misses his privacy, and in real life, he’s a terrible driver.
  3. A fake relationship! A media frenzy erupts after a very simple kiss on the cheek, and when they’re thrown together in public, Meg discovers the real person behind the photographs. West begins to wonder how he can live his real life without her in it.

Nothing is simple when it seems like the world is watching. You can pre-order/find Exposure wherever ebooks are sold. And thanks to Tracy Ewens for sponsoring this episode!


Click to view the transcript

This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

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Add Your Comment →

  1. Jacqueline says:


    Ooooooh the temptation to procrastinate on my channel is so real and so hard that somebody needs to smack me.

    My Heart: But! But! Buuuuuuuuuuuut! It’s Alyssa Cole! She’s been on your TBR and rec list forever! YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO HER COOLNESS DAMMIT!

    My Brain: Bitch we got shiznit to do. OFF WITH YE NONSENSE!

    My Heart: You’re a meanie.

  2. Crystal says:

    Great podcast, ladies. I already have An Extraordinary Union (preordered months ago), but haven’t read it yet, because all signs point to the fact that I’m going to love the living daylights out of it, and I want to save it.

    Apropos of nothing, my husband has been shaking his head in disappointment at me all week. Acquisitions included An Extraordinary Union, The Unyielding, Strange the Dreamer, and Forever Mine. Oh, well. He’s not afraid, he knows who he married.

    Also, I strongly suspect that the preceding comment is the same Jacqueline that urged me to buy Hard Hitter on Twitter. :::waves::: Hiiiiiii! (I haven’t read it yet, I will, but I have a massive TBR out of the library right now, and my husband walks by it and just points at it and then gives me a look every time he walks by our bookshelf).

  3. Jacqueline says:

    @Crystal OH MY FLIP FLOPPING WOW, HI HON! *waves back so hard I snap off my hand* Yep! That me :).

    No worries, gurl. If there’s ONE thing us fangirls understand, it’s the massive ass mountain that is ALL THE BOOKS WE WANT TO READ RIGHT THIS DAMN SECOND!

    Your hub sounds like MY hub, bless their souls. Every single day I put myself on a book buying ban that lasts exactly 0 seconds. Luckily my hub reads romance too, so he gets bit by the same book crack bug. I swear our house looks like a wanna be library! I JUST WANT TO OWN ALL OF THE BOOKS OKAY?! 🙂

  4. Hazel says:

    Thank you so much, Sarah. I really appreciate it when I read these podcasts and find that romance novels are written by intelligent, thoughtful women, each of whom I’d love to have a conversation with.

    So now I have to read all Ms Cole’s books.

    And all of those she recommended.

    Don’t I? 🙂

  5. SB Sarah says:

    That’s so nice of you, Hazel – thank you! I really enjoyed editing this episode, and really, getting to record conversations with brilliant people whom I learn from each time is the best part of producing the show.

    (And yes, go for it!!)

  6. Kareni says:

    What an enjoyable interview! Thanks so much for providing the transcript.

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