Published July 28, 2021

Dorothy Koomson, author of I Know What You’ve Done, is the award-winning author of fifteen novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend’s Girl, The Ice Cream Girls, and Goodnight, Beautiful. Dorothy’s novels have been translated into more than 30 languages, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1. Learn more at

Get to know Dorothy in this Q&A and then join us for a FREE virtual event on Thursday, July 29 at 12 PM ET to hear her discuss her work in SHELF LIFE—Sizzling Summer Suspense! With Alyssa Cole and Dorothy Koomson.

Festival: What motivated you to become a writer? 

Koomson: I became a writer because of my love of reading and storytelling. I wanted to be one of the people who created those books that I loved to read in the library and at school. I also loved reading magazines, comics, and short stories. Anything, really.

Who or what are some of your creative influences?

I can’t point to any one writer and say they were my creative influence but reading widely and fully is definitely something that helped me to decide what types of books I wanted to write and what stories I wanted to tell.  

What was your favorite part about writing your latest book?

The jokes! I had to find some jokes for one of the characters and that was some of the most enjoyable research I’ve ever conducted. I also really enjoyed writing about the two Yorkshire Terriers—Yam and Okra—because they’re exactly like my two dogs.

Do you have any sources of inspiration that you come back to while writing?

A lot of my books are set in Brighton because I live there and the city is a constant presence—sometimes almost a character in its own right—in what I write. I feel really fortunate to live by the sea and I love to weave that into my books. Of course, a lot of very disturbing crimes seem to happen in my books so some people might mistake Brighton for a hotbed of criminality!!

What impact or takeaway do you hope your work will have for readers? 

First and foremost I hope people are entertained by my novels and stories. If they can see things slightly differently or have an area of life opened up to them in a different way, then that is a bonus. Also, if they realize that Black people aren’t a monolith—we can do different things—and that we can be the stars of the story without needing to fall on lazy stereotypes (sassy best friend, etc.) then that is an added bonus.  

Describe how a book changed your life or perspective.

It may sound obvious, but my first book to be published—The Cupid Effect—completely changed my life. Not only because I got to see it on the shelves in book shops and libraries, but also because it showed me that it was possible for me to write a book that someone would publish and that people would buy. It totally made me think I should keep doing it until I could do it full-time. And all these years later, that’s exactly what I’m able to do.

What is something that you’ve read recently and would recommend to others?

I recently read Alyssa Cole’s When No One Is Watching. It had so many heart-thumping, hands-on-your-face moments and I enjoyed every word. I mean, yes, I found it mega-stressful but I also just loved it.

What are you working on next?

My next book—book number eighteen—will be out next year and I’m working on it now. We’re still looking for on a title, but the premise is there and I’m enjoying unpicking the plot and characters so I can write about them.

Learning Experience

Discovering and Celebrating Our Veterans

What does it take to be a defender of your beliefs and your country?

Partners & Sponsors  |  View All

With generous support from Michelle and David Baldacci

Cornell NEH Virginia Public Media - NPR & PBS Charlottesville Albemarle UVA CHO