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.” Their newest novel, “The Comeback Summer,” confronts love between sisters, soulmates, and for one’s self, addressing mental health and body acceptance through the journeys of the sisters.
Hannah and Libby need a miracle. The PR agency they inherited from their grandmother is losing clients left and right, and the sisters are devastated at the thought of closing. The situation seems hopeless—until in walks Lou, an eccentric self-help guru who is looking for a new PR agency. Her business could solve all their problems—but there’s a catch. Whoever works with Lou must complete a twelve-week challenge as part of her “Crush Your Comfort Zone” program.
The challenges begin with Hannah helping Libby train and Libby managing the dating app on her sister’s behalf. They’re both making good progress—until Hannah’s first love rolls into town, and Libby accidentally falls for a guy she’s supposed to be setting up with her sister.Things get even more complicated when secrets come to light, making the sisters question the one relationship they’ve always counted on: each other. With their company’s future on the line, they can’t afford to fail. But in trying to make a comeback to honor their grandmother, are they pushing themselves down the wrong path?
Things get even more complicated when secrets come to light, making the sisters question the one relationship they’ve always counted on: each other.
Ali Brady is the pen name of writing BFFs Alison Hammer and Bradeigh Godfrey. 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.”
If you were a participant in the “Crush Your Comfort Zone” program, what would your challenges be and why?
Bradeigh, like Hannah, sometimes feels awkward around people she doesn’t know, so her challenge would probably include forcing her to interact with strangers. But since Bradeigh’s happily married, she can’t go on twelve dates in twelve weeks like Hannah, so her challenge might be something like going to cocktail parties with random people she’s never met and being forced to make small talk (just the thought makes her shudder).
Alison, like Libby, loves being comfortable in her comfort zone. Her challenge would probably be something around putting herself out there more. She can be very comfortable behind a screen—less so when she’s in person in new or unfamiliar situations with people she doesn’t know, doing things she’s not confident about!
And speaking of challenging ourselves, we’re actually hosting a “Crush Your Comfort Zone” challenge in our Facebook reader group, The Ali Brady Bunch, if anyone wants to join us in crushing their comfort zones!
Is it hard to keep your personal lives as BFFs separate from your professional lives as authors?
When we were preparing to publish our first novel, we got some great advice from another author/BFF duo, Christina Lauren. They said to make sure to nourish our friendship separately from our business partnernship, and we’ve taken that to heart. We make sure to stay connected as friends no matter what is going on with our writing—and that friendship ends up benefiting our working relationship, too.
You were both inspired by the classic movie “The Parent Trap” and reworked some plot twists into your writing which later became your first novel as Ali Brady: “The Beach Trap.” What was the inspiration behind writing “The Comeback Summer”?
We were talking about our sisters (who are both named Elizabeth, coincidentally!) about how sisterhood is such a beautiful but complicated relationship. It’s common for siblings to be given different identities or roles in families—like the smart one, the pretty one, the athletic one—and we wanted to explore how those roles continue to play out even in adulthood. From there, we continued brainstorming ways to push these particular sisters out of these comfortable roles so they can grow into their true potential as individuals.
Since the novel is told in two POVs and there are two of you, was one of you responsible for a character? What was the writing process like?
We each take ownership of one point of view character, shaping that character’s voice, arc and romantic relationship. This allows us to dive deep into that character’s mind and really get to know them deeply. We each take the lead on drafting the chapters from our character’s point of view, but then we edit each other’s chapters, providing comments and suggestions. This means that by the end of the writing and revising process, both characters are influenced by both of us.
How does the sisterhood between Hannah and Libby reflect your own relationship with each other?
Like Hannah and Libby, we are very close and we work together (as co-authors)…but we don’t live together (or even in the same state!), and we aren’t as enmeshed in each other’s lives as they are. Hannah and Libby are a little too dependent on each other at the beginning of the novel, and part of their journey is learning to step out of their comfortable roles as sisters and figure out who they are as individuals. We loved getting to know these characters while writing the book, and getting to each other more deeply through the process, too.
Many thanks to both Alison and Bradeigh for answering my questions about “The Comeback Summer.” As a sister, I really enjoyed seeing the warm behind the sisterhood in the novel. I’d also like to thank Kathleen Carter from Kathleen Carter Communications who reached out to me about interviewing the author duo about their second novel focusing on body acceptance, mental health, sisterhood and romance. Can’t wait to see what’s next!