A.S. King is the author of the new young adult novel Switch. Her many other books include Dig. She is on the faculty of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she lives in Pennsylvania.
Q: What inspired you to write Switch, and how did you create your character Truda?
A: Oh boy. Well, the characters just come out of me. I don't plan anything. So Truda just...showed up and started to tell me about things.
At one point, she told me about how time stopped and at another point she told me about how her family had a switch on the wall that no one touched, and how much she wanted to touch that switch. At that point, those things were, in themselves, the inspiration for the book.
Q: The Kirkus Review of the book says, "Intentionally perplexing, the book carefully doles out reveals as it steadily weaves together seemingly disparate threads with precision." What do you think of that description?
A: I don't tend to think about reviews in this way, and I don't remember reading this description before. So I don't feel any certain way about it.
I don't think the book is intentionally perplexing; I think it's surrealism, which may be something this reviewer isn't used to reading. I do think there are disparate threads. I appreciate their use of the word "precision."
Q: Why did you choose June 23, 2020 as the day the clocks stopped?
A: June 23, 2020 is the 40th anniversary of something life-changing that happened to me. I didn't know how life-changing it was until I started to write Switch.
Sometimes, trauma collected during childhood requires additional attention 40 years later--in my case, focusing on what effect it had on me as an adult was fascinating. Writing the book, then, changed my life.
Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: I knew the book was about a switch. I have wired hundreds of switches in my life. But it also calls back to a line in my 2010 novel Please Ignore Vera Dietz, where the switch refers to changing one's mind or changing one's ways.
Either way, the book seemed to know it was called Switch, so I went with it. Plus, with all those slashes / switch symbols, it did seem a natural choice.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am editing a middle grade novel about censorship and I am drafting my next YA novel. I also have secret plans. *looks left* *looks right*
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: A. I really did throw my watch in into a public trash can when I was 18 years old. I decided to change the way I thought about time. It is now 30+ years since I did that and I can tell you--my life has been wildly different than it would have been had I kept my watch on my wrist.
B. Robert Plutchik is a genius and Switch inspired me to invent N3WCLOCK.COM. Go check it out. There is more to time than 24 hours.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb