Meet Brandy Schillace, PHD

Author. Historian. Adventurer at the Intersections.


I grew up in an underground house, next to a graveyard, in abandoned coal lands… with a pet raccoon. Oddly, this tends not to surprise people as much as I think it will. My rural community skirted the poverty line, a place of failed industry and orange rivers, poor health, and poorer access to healthcare. As a result, I spent my childhood reading a lot about disease and going to a lot of funerals. I ended up with a Ph.D. and a career in science history, which is probably a likely thing to happen when you spend your early years in a cemetery.

I’ve worked in an English Department, a History Department, and for a Medical Anthropology journal. I spent five years as a research associate in a medical museum among amputation saws, surgery kits, and smallpox vaccines—and now, in addition to being an author, I’m Editor-in-Chief for BMJ’s Medical Humanities Journal. I tend to fall outside the borders and binaries on every side. What can I say? Life is just more interesting at the intersections.

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you will also discover that about half my feed is dedicated to food, whiskey, BBC mystery, Bart the cat, and my five chickens (Blue, Rocky, Geraldine, Florence, and Elvira). My partner Mark makes the occasional appearance, too. He’s brilliant. And he bakes.

Addendum on that pet raccoon… She eventually figured out how to open the fridge. It was a whole thing.


Brandy’s current project (with Simon & Schuster) involves the bizarre true history of the first head transplant (see more on the press release). Meanwhile, CLOCKWORK FUTURES (Pegasus 2017), explores the science and history behind “dread tech,” steampunk science, and manufactured power, and DEATH’S SUMMER COAT (2016) looks at cultural practices of grief from sky burial to momento mori. Her academic works investigate motherhood and monstrosity, birth-machines, and more. Read more on the Books page. Represented by: Jessica Papin, Dystel, Goderich and Bourret Literary Management; and Kim Yau, Echo Lake Entertainment

Reviews: Science Magazine,  New Yorker,  New York Times,  Wall Street Journal,  Boston Globe.

Brandy ON AIR on NPR with host Tonya Mosley

Coronavirus Has Reshaped Funerals — And How We Mourn Lost Loved Ones


On Monday, join @bschillace as she presents her new biography of neuroscientist Robert White, MR. HUMBLE & DR. BUTCHER, in conversation with @DrLindseyFitz

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