Freida McFadden is the bestselling author of thrillers and women’s fiction. She has both indie published and traditionally published her work while holding down a career as a physician specializing in brain injury. McFadden’s most recognizable work is likely The Housemaid, a thriller that got caught up in the #booktok viral era. It boasts over 180,000 reviews on Amazon and topped all the bestseller charts. Now she is releasing her next heart-stopping thriller, The Coworker.

The Coworker

The Coworker by Freida McFadden

Dawn is the awkward one in her office at a supplement company. She’s quirky, quiet and friendless. The only thing her office mates know about her is that she arrives precisely at 8:45 everyday. So on the day she doesn’t show up and her popular, top sales rep, coworker gets an anonymous call, a mysterious chain of events is set into motion. One that leaves Natalie caught up in the unknown world of Dawn and in the crosshairs of a killer.

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As a physician and a New York Times bestselling author, what is the interplay between your medical career and your career as an author? What made you decide you wanted to pursue being an author?

I never actually wanted to be an author!  It’s one of those things that just happened.  Writing was always a hobby for me—I took every writing class I could during school, but I never seriously considered it as a career. But at the same time, ever since I can remember, I always dreamed of having a published novel. Unfortunately, my attempts to publish using the traditional route all met with ultimate failure.

So when self-publishing became a thing, I quickly took advantage to publish my first book.  There was no pressure at that point, because I already had a busy career as a physician.  And then I was happy, because I had published a novel, just like I always wanted.  I’m not entirely sure how the rest of this happened!

You are one of the talented authors whose book got swept up in the BookTok fervor, skyrocketing its reach. How has that impacted your author life?

It’s been amazing!  I wish I could say I was instrumental in making this happen, but it was all luck—writing a book that resonated with the right people. As for me, I sort of know how to use TikTok.  I know how to log in.

You’ve mentioned before that you started writing women’s fiction and then pivoted to thrillers, what made you make the switch?

I’ve always wanted to write a book about my medical internship as it was such a… let’s just say, intense experience.  I read The Devil Wears Prada, and when I read it, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Medical training is so much worse than fashion!  They should hear what I went through!”  So that gave birth to The Devil Wears Scrubs.  Although it’s technically women’s fiction, it’s actually more of a fictionalized memoir about my real life experiences, as is the sequel that takes place a decade later.

However, I’ve always loved reading thrillers, so in switching to primarily creating thrillers, I was writing more of the type of books that I personally enjoy reading.

Tell us about what inspired your new book The Coworker. What can readers look forward to with this one?

I was most inspired by the idea of workplace bullying.  As a child, I was bullied a lot at certain points in my life, and it’s the kind of thing that stays with you forever.  Sadly, a lot of adults are still bullied—at home, at work, and on social media.  This book was my attempt to capture the frustration of what it’s like to be bullied.

What thrillers inspire you? Can you share the last one you read where the twist took you completely by surprise?

I always think of Gone Girl as the OG—the first recent thriller that really blew me away.  Most recently, a favorite of mine was Look Closer by David Ellis.  I was so impressed by the twists and turns in that one.  And I’m a massive fan of the entire Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen.

What makes a great twist in your opinion?

I think it’s not enough for the killer to be the person you’d least suspect.  It has to be someone that didn’t even cross your mind for a millisecond.  And yet, at the same time, it also has to be someone that is meaningful.  The killer can’t be the victim’s father’s brother’s best friend’s college roommate, because he was mad about the electric bill being split unevenly.

What are the books you feel have shaped you? Either from childhood or the books that you read as you began your writing journey?

Two of my favorite authors when I was a kid were Lois Duncan and Louis Sachar.  Lois Duncan was such an amazing thriller author for young adults, but it was from Louis Sachar that I learned to make books fun and to have a sense of humor, even when the subject matter is serious.

Can you share what you’re working on next? Either from a book perspective or an adaptation perspective?

My next release is called The Teacher, coming in February of 2024.  I think that’s all I’m allowed to say!  And oh yes, please check it out!