Friday, October 21, 2022

Q&A with Ali Brady




Ali Brady (the pen name for writers Alison Hammer and Bradeigh Godfrey) is the author of the new novel The Beach Trap. Hammer's other books include You and Me and Us. She lives in Chicago and works as a VP creative director for an advertising agency. Godfrey also has written the novel Imposter. She is a physician and she lives in Utah.


Q: How did the two of you come up with the idea for The Beach Trap, and how did you create your characters Kat and Blake?


A: We both grew up watching and loving the movie The Parent Trap (both the Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan versions) and one day when we were talking (which we do all day, every day) one of us threw out the idea of exploring a “reverse” Parent Trap—instead of the sisters trying to get the parents back together, a parent tries to get the sisters back together.


The story started with the idea for the prologue: two girls meet at sleepaway camp and become instant best friends, but it all falls apart when they realize they share a father. After that, they don’t speak for 15 years, until their father passes away, leaving them both a run-down beach house in Destin, Florida.


We created the characters to be opposites in many ways—Kat was raised by their father and lived a very privileged life, but never felt close to him. Blake, on the other hand, was abandoned by her father and raised by her maternal grandparents after her mother died.


When it comes to the beach house, they also have opposite goals: Kat wants to keep the place that holds so many good memories of her father, but Blake wants to sell it to pay for her grandfather’s care.


That created conflict from the start, with lots to explore in the sisters’ relationship and eventually bring them back together.


Q: As you mentioned, the novel is set at a beach house in Destin, Florida--how important is setting to you in your writing?


A: The setting in this story is so important, and we worked hard to bring it to life. Alison knows Destin well because her dad lives there, but Bradeigh had never been there before.

We invited two friends to go on a very difficult (ha!) “research” trip with us so Bradeigh could get a sense of the scenery, everything from the powdery soft white sand to the salty, delicious oysters!


Q: What was it like to collaborate on the book, and did one of you focus more on one character while the other focused on the other character?


A: It was a natural evolution since we’ve been critique partners for the last five years. Writing a book together wasn’t all that different from writing a book separately since we’re so involved in the other’s writing process.


We start out by plotting extensively. As much as we joke about being able to read each other’s mind, we can’t really. So we have to make sure we have the same vision for the story.


We each take the lead on one of the characters—coming up with their backstory, their character arc and writing their chapters—but we both have input on everything the other does.


So if Alison writes the chapter for one character, Bradeigh will edit that chapter and vice versa. This system lets us both have our hands on the whole book.


Q: The author Sarah Grunder Ruiz said of the book, “The Beach Trap is both a celebration of sisterhood and an unflinching examination of how where we come from shapes who we become.” What do you think of that description?


A: We love Sarah and were so happy with her kind words about The Beach Trap! Her quote hits on one of the biggest themes in the book: that two people can experience the same event in completely different ways.


While both sisters lost their father, Kat grew up with him and Blake grew up without him, so this influences how they process their grief and view their relationship with each other. (And in case that makes the book sound too heavy—we promise there’s a lot of levity and even some steam!)


Q: What are you working on now?


A: We’re anxiously awaiting edits for our next book, The Comeback Summer. It’s another story of sisterhood and self-discovery with summer vibes and two swoon-worthy love interests!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: In addition to writing as Ali Brady, we both have our own books out in the world. Bradeigh’s solo debut, Imposter, a twisty psychological thriller, just came out last month. Alison also has two solo books, You and Me and Us and Little Pieces of Me.


We’re both active on Instagram (@alibradybooks) and we love connecting with readers and book clubs! 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Alison Hammer.

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