Ali Brady is the pen name of writing BFFs Alison Hammer and Bradeigh Godfrey. The Beach Trap is their first book together. Alison lives in Chicago and works as a VP creative director at an advertising agency. She’s the author of You and Me and Us and Little Pieces of Me. Bradeigh lives with her family in Utah, where she works as a physician. She’s the author of the psychological thriller, Impostor.
1. Tell us your writing process of writing a book together under one pen name? How do you iron out ideas, do you take turns writing characters or scenes? We would love to know what that process looks like for you!
So far, all our books have had two main characters, so we each have taken ownership of one character and written the chapters from their point of view. When we’re starting a new book, we plot extensively and create a detailed outline. We then write one chapter per week from our character’s point of view, and then swap so we can edit and comment on each other’s chapter. This goes back and forth, week by week, until we reach a point when we need to revise. Because of this process, we each have our fingerprints on every single page of the book, which helps it feel cohesive and like it’s written by one person.
2. How was the idea of THE COMEBACK SUMMER developed? Where did it come from?
The initial spark came from a conversation about our own sisters–who are both named Elizabeth. We were talking about how sisters can be assigned different roles in a family, like the “smart one” or the “pretty one” and how those roles can be difficult to break out of even as adults. We were intrigued by the idea of writing about two sisters who have a very close relationship–maybe a little too close–and who have become stuck in their roles as older and younger sister. From there, we continued to brainstorm about a plot that would force our sisters to break out of their comfort zones and grow as individuals.
3. In the book, two sisters Libby and Hannah have come together to save their grandmother’s legacy as they inherit her PR firm. What challenges can readers expect the characters to face in the novel?
The sisters are desperate to save their grandma’s company, so when an eccentric self-help guru named Lou walks in offering to hire them as her PR firm as she launches a new product, they think this could solve all their problems. But Lou requires everyone who represents her to “walk the walk” by completing one of her signature twelve-week Crush Your Comfort Zone challenges. Hannah, who is introverted and anxious, is assigned to go on twelve dates with twelve men in twelve weeks, while Libby, who claims to be “allergic” to exercise, must train for a compete in a public sporting event. As the sisters embark on these challenges, they’re forced to step way outside their comfort zones and face their deepest fears and insecurities. But things get even more complicated when Hannah’s first love returns to town, and he wants her back, and Libby accidentally falls for a guy she’s supposed to be setting up with her sister.
4. What makes THE COMEBACK SUMMER the perfect summer read?
We wanted to write the kind of book we love to read in the summer–full of sisterhood, summer, and romance. THE COMEBACK SUMMER is set in Chicago, and we infused it with everything we love about that city in the summertime, including beautiful Lake Michigan, sailboats, Ferris wheels, and summer thunderstorms. Along with the sisterhood themes, the reader will also get two romances with two pretty swoony book boyfriends. It’s the perfect book to throw in your bag and take to the pool or beach.
5. What are each of the authors reading this summer?
Bradeigh has been enjoying some thrillers this summer. She recently finished THE LAST WORD by Taylor Adams, which she loved, and right now she’s reading an advance copy of Lisa Jewell’s next thriller, NONE OF THIS IS TRUE, which is twisty and dark and intriguing.
Alison just finished reading Kristin Harmel’s latest book, THE PARIS DAUGHTER, which comes out on June 6th. She also read and loved THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF TANNER AND LOUISE by Colleen Oakley and THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEE by Patti Callahan Henry.
6. What is one book that they think is very similar to THE COMEBACK SUMMER, if they like X this will love THE COMEBACK SUMMER?
If readers enjoy the sisterhood relationship as well as the romance in Emily Henry’s BOOK LOVERS, they’ll find similar themes in THE COMEBACK SUMMER.
7. What is one writing pet peeve each author has?
Bradeigh’s pet peeve is when authors write “He (or she) could care less.” The phrase is “couldn’t care less!”
Alison’s pet peeve is when writers use unique words too often in one book. Like plopped.
8. Are there moments where you experience writers block? How does working in a team help to solve these common writing hurdles?
We are lucky to have a built-in teammate, editor, and fellow brainstormer in each other, so when one of us is coming up blank with ideas or struggling to get words on the page, the other can step in and help out.
9. Can readers tell which parts are written by each person? Do you each have small stylistic notes?
So far, even our closest friends and family have had difficulty identifying which parts were written by each of us. We think this is because we edit each other so extensively that even though each chapter was initially drafted by only one of us, by the time it reaches the final version, we have both influenced every single word on the page.
10. Tell us something fun we wouldn’t know about you.
When it’s time to write the “steamy scenes” in our book, we send each other encouraging messages and GIFs because we know it can be awkward to get those words on the page! Then, once the book is finished and published, we like to listen to the audiobook together–which is mostly fun, but can again get a little awkward during the steamy scenes.
Two sisters have one summer to crush their comfort zones and save their grandmother’s legacy in this sweet, sexy, and heartfelt novel by Ali Brady, author of The Beach Trap. Order your copy today!