Imposter is an Apple Best Books of September!
Two sisters, a lifetime of secrets...
Author interview with Bradeigh~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m a physician and a mom of four, which means that I didn’t have time to write for a very long time. Or at least, I thought I didn’t. Medical training and babies felt so all-consuming that I stopped reading for fun or doing anything creative at all. But when my youngest was a baby, I started getting little urges to write down the stories that had always lived inside my head. For a long time, I ignored those urges—who was I to think I could write a novel? Besides, I was busy enough already. But the desire to write built and built until it felt like pressure inside my head, like my skull might actually burst. One day, during my daughter’s nap, I sat down and started writing. It was such a relief. The words kept flowing out of me, and I haven’t stopped since.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
I’ve had to train myself to write anywhere and everywhere, but ideally, I will have a scented candle burning, my Hydroflask full of water, and an icy-cold LaCroix on my desk.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
Yes, I’m a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This means I take care of individuals with all sorts of injuries and disabilities: brain injuries, strokes, amputations, and more.
Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
Yes! Several. Imposter was the fourth full-length manuscript that I wrote and polished. The first one will never see the light of day, but it taught me the basics of novel-writing, and several scenes from that manuscript are now part of Imposter. The second is a book that is still very close to my heart, but it’s more suspenseful women’s fiction than a true thriller, so we will see if I ever pull that one out again. The third manuscript is the one that landed me my agent, but when we went on submission, it didn’t sell, though we had several close calls. However, that book is going to be published next year as my second thriller, so things do have a way of working out!
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
My critique partner, Alison Hammer, who is also my co-author in my other writing career (we write romantic women’s fiction under the pen name Ali Brady), reads everything I write. And Genevieve Gagne-Hawes, the in-house editor at my literary agency (Writers House), is brilliant at guiding my early drafts through revisions.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your book published?
I had a very long road to getting published. As I mentioned before, my fourth full-length manuscript finally landed me a book deal. I had queried three books before that. While that might sound sort of depressing (and it was, sometimes), I knew I was getting closer with each manuscript. When I queried the first one, I only got a few requests from agents, but the second had a fifty-percent request rate, which is quite good. That second manuscript also had multiple agents interested enough to ask me to revise and resubmit, and a few talked with me on the phone.
I was just about to start revising the manuscript for those agents when I decided on a whim to participate in a Twitter pitch party (#PitMad) with my third manuscript, which I had recently finished. I ended up with four offers of representation. I figured I had it made! So it was a rude awakening when I went on submission and the book didn’t sell. That was a huge blow, and I floundered for a few months, trying to decide if I should revise that third manuscript or write something else. I came very close to quitting at that point. My agent suggested I write something related to my profession as a physician, and that’s where the idea for Imposter was born. That book went through several revisions until it eventually sold to Blackstone, who will also be publishing a revised version of that third manuscript. Although it was a long and winding road, I’m thrilled to be where I am now, and I appreciate all the lessons about perseverance that I learned along the way.
What are you working on now?
I’m soon going to be starting development edits for my second thriller, which is about a social media influencer who shares a picture of her new husband with her followers, and one of them recognizes him as the man who killed her sister and got away with it. I’m very excited about this book and looking forward to diving into it again.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
While Imposter is fictional, I did incorporate many of my experiences during my medical training and career, especially taking care of individuals with traumatic brain injuries. I wanted to accurately reflect a hospital environment and include many of the unsung heroes of the healthcare and rehabilitation world that don’t usually show up in books and TV shows about medicine—like physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, and more.
Do you have a favorite character?
There are two main characters in Imposter, and I love them both: Lilian is a responsible, studious, somewhat anxious older sister who went to medical school and is outwardly successful. It was very easy for me to relate to her, and I loved bringing her to life. Rosie is the rebellious, spontaneous, stubborn younger sister, and she was more challenging for me to get to know, but I ended up loving her character and her voice.
What was some unique research you had to do for a book?
The story incorporates a rare neurologic disorder that can occur after brain injuries called Capgras Syndrome, in which the person affected believes that their closest loved ones have been replaced by identical-looking imposters. I’ve never seen this in a real-life patient, so I read case reports in medical journals, watched documentaries, and talked with colleagues across the country who work in my field. One of the most fascinating things I learned about Capgras Syndrome is that people affected with it can correctly identify their loved ones in pictures and photographs—it’s only in person that they think they are imposters. This is hypothesized to occur when the neurologic pathways that allow facial recognition are intact, but there is damage to the pathways that evoke an emotional response to seeing people who know and love. So the person recognizes the face of their husband or sister or mother, but because they don’t have an emotional response, they assume that someone must be impersonating their love ones. This can be terrifying for the person affected and emotionally devastated for their family and significant other, and in a few rare cases the delusion has unfortunately led to violence against the “imposters.” There is no cure, and although some people improve over time, many are affected for the rest of their lives.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you want a writing career, start acting as if you already have one. Treat it like your occupation even if you’re not yet getting paid for it. You may not be able to write full-time, but you can set aside consistent time on a regular basis to work. Learn about the craft, join a critique group, and get outside feedback from beta readers. When your book is as good as you can make it with your current skill set, start submitting it to agents or publishers. And then, start writing the next book. Professional authors have to maintain this cycle for their entire career—write, revise, submit, start the next book—so you might as well get used to it! It’s also important to develop grit and resilience; this is not a path for the faint of heart. The more authors I meet, the more I realize that everyone faces setbacks and disappointments, so learning to come back after failure is a crucial skill.
To connect with Bradeigh:
Instagram - @bradeighgodfrey