A compelling story that keep you intrigued and turning the pages, Heather Frimmer brings us Better to Trust, her latest and greatest in medical fiction. Allison needs brain surgery. Realizing her life may never be the same afterward, this glimpse at mortality causes her to rethink her future and consider making changes by revealing a secret about her sexuality that will impact her marriage but allow her to live more authentically. Grant is Allison’s brother-in-law. He is a top surgeon and the one Allison insists on for her operation, yet Grant has a dirty secret of his own. His battle with drug addiction has gone unnoticed up until now, but his pill popping has taken on a life of its own and at any time it could impact the outcome in the operating room. Sadie is Grant’s daughter. She has been making some less than desirable choices in her teenage life and hanging out with the wrong people, with the hope of being accepted.
Temptation, crumbling family relationships, drug addiction, brain surgery and infidelity will keep you intrigued as this family faced with challenges pulls themselves together with love and trust. With a dual timeline and multiple points of view, Heather Frimmer give us a well rounded and full perspective of each of the relationships and the characters’ individual struggles. I loved this family story and how they came to trust each other again. Better to Trust will be available this week… order your copy today!
Q & A With Heather Frimmer
Q: In your first book, Bedside Manners, the main character was diagnosed with breast cancer – something you are familiar with due to your job in breast imaging. In Better to Trust, the main character has a brain injury. What made you decide to focus on the brain and how did you research this?
A: I got the idea for Better to Trust when an acquaintance told me a family member had successfully performed a minor procedure on her husband. When I heard this, I got a massive case of the what ifs. I wondered what if the operation was a major one, and what if it didn’t go as planned? Right away, I knew the operation had to involve the brain; nothing else could possibly have higher stakes.
Though I am a doctor, my practice is far removed from neurosurgery. I did a lot of reading on stroke, aphasia, neurosurgery and addiction. I also found a group of incredible beta readers which included neurologists, neurosurgeons, addiction specialists and speech pathologists. I asked them to be honest about any parts that didn’t ring true and suggest ways to revise accordingly.
Q: When beginning this book, did you always know Alison would be pushing the boundaries of sexuality and be caught up in an affair with Becca at the same time she endured a brain injury?
A: Yes, I knew from early on that I wanted Alison’s story to be about how this traumatic event spurs her to reevaluate her life from a new vantage point, how her close call with mortality makes her braver and stronger and better equipped to embrace a different future for herself. From the early drafts, Alison’s relationship with Becca played a major role and I fine-tuned the details in later drafts.
Q: Grant was showing signs of addiction and every time he popped a pill I cringed. Do you think it is possible for a medical professional to have a problem that flies under the radar?
A: Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, most hospitals offer some form of the professional assistance committee featured in the novel to support impaired physicians on staff. As humans, physicians struggle with various impairments, including drug and alcohol addiction, psychiatric disorders and disruptive behaviors, amongst others. Because of the macho culture in the medical world, admitting there is a problem is often a difficult first step.
Q: Grant’s daughter, Sadie, has a friend who comes from a shady background and has no boundaries or rules. We hope our children make the right choices when faced with temptation to do the wrong thing just to be popular and have friends. Why did Sadie go along with stealing and getting a tattoo?
A: Sadie is lost and is trying to find herself. She’s feeling outclassed by the other ice skaters at her rink and she hasn’t yet found her footing in high school. Though she knows she’s making bad choices, she finds Piper intriguing and desperately wants her approval.
Q: You tackled many topics including drug abuse, intimate relationships, friendships, sexuality, brain injury, love and trust…did you create an outline and know you were going to explore each of these ideas or did they just emerge?
A: At the outset, I knew I wanted to explore the ethical issues around operating on a family member and the complications of physician impairment. The other issues and themes just naturally worked their way into the plot as the characters emerged and blossomed. I’ve tried outlining, but it just doesn’t work for me. I need to let the story develop naturally and see where it goes. This method definitely means more revising later on, but I can’t do it any other way.
Q: I love how Nate, Rhea the caregiver’s son, has no issue with Becca and Alison as a couple. Do you think the younger generations are more open and accepting?
A: One hundred percent. The character of Nate was inspired by my younger child who truly accepts everyone as they are, no questions asked. When my older child came out as non-binary and started using they/them pronouns, Ari didn’t skip a beat. He mastered the pronouns within a few days, while my husband and I still occasionally make mistakes over two years later.
Q: Temptation runs rampant through your novel and the characters fall when it comes to drugs, stealing, infidelity…. How did the title, Better to Trust come about?
A: This book had a different working title which my publisher did not love (Where the Blame Lies). During a brainstorming session, we kept coming back to the word trust. I scoured the internet for quotes and found this one from Eric Sevareid:
“Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.”
I knew right away it was perfect. The quote now serves as the epigraph and the title also appears in dialogue when Alison first sees Grant as a patient in his office.
Q: Can you tell us more about the cover?
A: My publisher is incredibly collaborative with cover design. I suggested the color scheme, background design and title font. At first glance, the blue and green swirls look like a design, but when you look closer, the brain pattern emerges. I think this is a perfect parallel to the themes in the story. What you see on the surface doesn’t necessarily tell you what’s going on at a deeper level. I couldn’t be happier with the way the cover turned out. Despite the saying, people definitely do judge a book by its cover.
Q: Would you classify your books as medical fiction and is this a genre you plan on sticking with moving forward? Are you working on anything new yet?
A: Yes, medical fiction is the best description and I do plan on doubling down. The world of medicine is rife with dramatic stories and people are fascinated to get a peek behind the curtain. My work in progress centers on an obstetrician struggling with an anxiety disorder and a patient who is suing her for malpractice. I can’t share much more because I’m still figuring it out myself.
Q: If Better to Trust became a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?
A: Because I rarely watch TV, I’m terrible at this game. Maybe Lily James as Alison, Amy Adams as Cynthia, Josh Duhamel as Grant and Katie Leclerc as Becca? I just watched a compelling show on HBOMax called The White Lotus. The actress who played Olivia, Sydney Sweeney, has the perfect level of snark to play Piper, but she’s a bit too old for the role.
Q: How can we stay up to date on your speaking engagements and all things related to your writing?
A: My website is heatherfrimmer.com and you can find me on instagram at @heatherfrimmer and on facebook at @heatherfrimmerauthor.
Q: I know you are a voracious reader…what have you read lately that you recommend?
A: I just read and loved What a Happy Family, the new novel by Saumya Dave, a fellow physician novelist. This one touches on mental health, immigrant culture and family ties. Another recent favorite is No Hiding in Boise by Kim Hooper. This book is amazing and I haven’t heard much buzz about it at all. The story centers on a shooting in a bar in Boise and is told from the perspectives of three women: a bartender who hid in a closet during the shooting, the wife of one of the injured victims and the shooter’s mother. I am in awe of how Hooper created empathy for all three characters and wove their complicated stories together so seamlessly.
About the Author:
Heather Frimmer is a physician—a radiologist specializing in breast and emergency room imaging. When she is not interpreting mammograms and x-rays in a dark room or reading books, you’ll find her writing. After taking an introductory writing class at the Westport Writers’ Workshop in 2014, Heather was inspired to write a novel. Her debut novel, Bedside Manners, was published by SparkPress in 2018 and has garnered rave reviews and multiple awards.
Heather is a book addict and not considering recovery. She reads nearly 100 books per year, mostly women’s fiction, historical fiction, psychological suspense and family stories, the more dysfunctional, the better. She writes reviews at many online outlets and right here on her own blog. Usually an introvert, Heather loves to chat about books with anyone, anywhere.
Suburban Connecticut is Heather’s home where she lives with her husband, a trained actor and middle school theater teacher, and their two teenage children. The three of them have caught the acting bug and there’s definitely no cure. Heather serves as their most loyal and enthusiastic audience member.
Heather loves being involved in book clubs: organizing, leading or attending as an author. Please reach out if your club is interested in reading her books. Her second novel, Better to Trust, releases from Wyatt-MacKenzie in September 2021.
Order Heather’s previous medical fiction novel, Bedside Manners HERE.