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Bridget Foley: On Writing Psychologically Potent Metaphors

Novelist Bridget Foley explains the seed that grew into her latest book Just Get Home and how she stayed hopeful in the face of rejection.

Originally from Colorado, Bridget Foley attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. She worked as an actor and screenwriter before becoming a novelist. Her first book, Hugo & Rose, was published in 2015.

Bridget Foley

Bridget Foley

In this post, Foley explains the seed that grew into her latest book Just Get Home, how she stayed hopeful in the face of rejection, and more!

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Fearless Writing William Kenower

If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly.

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Name: Bridget Foley
Literary agent: Brandi Bowles at UTA
Title: Just Get Home
Publisher: Mira
Release date: April 13, 2021
Genre: Thriller
Elevator pitch for the book: When a devastating earthquake—the Big One—hits Los Angeles, two strangers are brought together by an act of violence and must help each other survive the wrecked city.
Previous titles by the author: Hugo & Rose (2015, St. Martin’s)

Just Get Home by Bridget Foley

Just Get Home by Bridget Foley

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What prompted you to write this book?

To state the obvious, earthquakes are a psychologically potent metaphor. The idea that without warning the very ground under our feet might shift and swell, dislodging our carefully constructed lives, is frankly terrifying. Everyone who lives in "earthquake country" is actively encouraged to have a disaster plan, stores of water, medicine, and food, agreed-upon meeting places with family, etc.—so if you ask them what they would do ‘when the big one hits’ most people already have a narrative. But psychologically, we all live in "earthquake country"—and most of us haven’t laid a solid enough plan.

(5 Features for Writing Psychological Thrillers: A Checklist for Writers)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

I wrote a screenplay that contained the earliest seeds of the book in 2011. The script got me a lot of meetings with executives who were adamant about making the protagonist a "badass," claiming the movie could never get made unless Angelina Jolie played the role of Dessa. It was a profoundly deflating moment: They had no compunction about simply throwing away the heart of the story (the physical vulnerability of the two protagonists). It was, in fact, these meetings that directly led to me beginning to wonder: “Should I be writing novels instead?”

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

I’d always heard stories of books that faced nothing but constant rejection—the wall of “I don’t get it,” etc. This book felt like it wasn’t destined to find a home … and I consider myself blessed to have had it embraced by the team at Mira and to have had an agent who never stopped championing it. It was an object lesson in never giving up.

Bridget Foley: On Writing Psychologically Potent Metaphors

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

It’s hard to say—what I love about fiction is that each reader will find their own glittering idea to grab hold of, examine, and interpret as they choose. But my hope is that it encourages, much like Dessa herself, readers who are imagining themselves in a perilous situation to consider how much more perilous that same situation might be for others in less fortunate positions.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Goodness … I guess my advice is to finish it. Do everything you can to get to “The End,” before going back and editing a single page. I have to make all kinds of rules for myself like not reading more than two hundred words of the previous day's work and not reopening previous chapters, because I know I’m prone to “moving the furniture around when I’m supposed to be building the house.” 

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