‘Don’t quit your daydream’

Moorestown native to release debut novel in November

Courtesy of Atiba Sonnebeyatta: Charity Alyse’s debut novel, “Other Side of the Tracks,” is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and is about three teens entangled by secret love and racism.

Contemporary novelist Charity Alyse will release her debut novel, “Other Side of the Tracks,” on Nov. 22.

The book is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and is about three teens entangled by secret love, open hatred and the invisible societal constraints around people both Black and White.

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“In my sophomore year of college … I ended up going to school for English, just because I love reading so much, and my creative writing professor gave us this assignment and she told us to write a 10-page story about anything,” Alyse recalled.

“‘Other Side of the Tracks’ was born (in) that time,” she added. “This was during the time when the Black Lives Matter movement just kind of started getting a little bit more media attention, and I wasn’t really quite sure how I fit into it.”

Alyse said part of an inner conflict went into the book.

“I was raised as one of the only people of color in every space that I was in, and a lot of people had varying opinions,” she noted. “And I really didn’t feel like I could be myself and really share how I felt about social justice and things like that … So I kind of poured that division that I had within myself into these pages.”

“I wrote about a racially divided town separated by train tracks and what happens when Black blood is spilled on the White side of town, and how these people react to this mystery that’s going on in the middle of their towns and how that promotes one missing unity,” Alyse explained. 

“When my classmates read it, they were crying and laughing … It was just so emotional and it opened up this big discussion where I felt like I’d finally gotten my voice.”

Before selling “Other Side of the Tracks” at auction to Denene Millner Books – an imprint of Simon Teen – Alyse faced more than 200 rejections, but she has since been featured in Bustle women’s magazine and has received more than 200,000 impressions and counting on social media platforms such as TikTok.

“I really just kind of like to write books that are loosely based on the classics that we love so much, and I like to put my own spin on things and modernize them,” she noted. “Because I really feel – especially when it comes to writing contemporary stories – they’re very character-based as well, and so my stories are very character-led.”

“There’s no fantastical elements like aliens or anything, because it’s not like a fantasy, but they’re contemporary stories with classic spins.”

Alyse shared her excitement about her debut novel’s release.

“I’m most looking forward to being able to connect with readers,” she said. “The story has belonged to me for so long, and I’m just so happy that it’s not just going to be my story anymore, that it’ll belong to everyone else. I’m really looking forward to meeting readers and talking about their favorite parts, (parts) maybe they didn’t like so much and just connecting with the people that will be inspired and touched by this story.”

“Other Side of the Tracks” is available for pre-order wherever books are sold.

“Writing ‘Other Side of the Tracks’ became like a form of therapy for me,” Alyse revealed. “I just really wrote myself into these two towns (Bayside and Hamilton) and into these characters, and it actually really helped, because I learned in the end that having a voice or standing up for what you believe in doesn’t always necessarily have to be with a megaphone in the middle of a protest, or on a stage under lights with a microphone.”

“It can come through your words, and there’s so much power in the pen,” she added. “It can come through creating stories, so that’s kind of where I found my voice through ‘Other Side of the Tracks.’”

To pre-order the book, visit https://charityalyse.com.

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