Interview with Jody Kihara
from Chapter by Chapter
Where did you get the idea for Switching?
The idea came from another book I had written, which started with a similar premise: a girl with no recollection of her life previous to 8 months ago. I still love that story, but there was one major plot point that didn’t really work… so I never went ahead and published it. Instead, I took the same premise, but went off in a totally different direction.
SWITCHING also took inspiration from a book I loved when I was a teen: Taking Terri Mueller by Norma Fox Mazer (and yes, my character’s name is an homage to that book). TTM is about a girl who has been “kidnapped” by her own father, and can’t remember her mom. The premise is really quite different (no time travel involved!), but what impressed me most about that book was the strength of the main character. I wanted a character that was as strong as her. Re-reading TTM now, I’m struck by how young the character is (on the cover she looks 17, but really she’s 12!); but I was maybe about 10 when I first read the book, so she seemed older to me. Anyway, I hope readers draw from my Terry’s strength, because she is one tough cookie!
How did you keep track of all the time changes in the book?
With a spreadsheet! LOL. No seriously, I did have to work it out in Excel… I had to know all the characters’ birth dates and when they travelled back, and then do the math so that the whole thing made sense.
I love the retro look of the book’s cover… tell me about it!
I created the cover myself, in Photoshop, using several different images. It took me AGES to find the right Terry. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, but when you’re hunting through stock photos, usually the clearer the idea you have, the harder it is to find! The Terry I finally found is actually a few years older than I wanted, but she had the right look: tough; a street kid; even her smudged makeup was perfect! The problem was, the photo was only a headshot, so I had to find her a body! The cover is 3 shots comped together, with a border added to give it a kind of seventies feel (because most of the book takes place during the 70s).
The book really emphasizes the reality of her situation; other time travel books don’t deal with how hard it would be. She’s homeless, she’s sleeping rough, she’s lonely, she’s hungry all the time… where did you get that from?
I did some charity work in Vancouver’s downtown east side, where there are a lot of homeless people. One night we went to a homeless shelter, and it was an experience that rocked me to my core. I think everyone should, at some point in their life, do some volunteer work like that, even if it’s just for a day… it opens your eyes to what these people have to go through on a daily basis. If I was going to have a character who was homeless, it was important to me to show just how rough the situation really is.
The ending made me wonder if there might be a sequel coming?
I’d love to write a sequel someday, but probably not for a while… I have so many other projects on the go, and so little time! (how ironic)
So if you could time travel… where would you go?
I’d go back to pre-Islamic Arabia, so that I could finally write the sequel to one of my other novels, The Frankincense Trail… imagine being able to inject that amount of reality into a book!
Review from Amazon.com
Couldn’t put it down! by Leanne (U.S.A.)
I love YA, but any time travel book I’d ever read involved a female character going back to medieval, Victorian, or corset-times (why do they all do that?). This book is different because the main character, Terry, is stuck bouncing around in time… but she only travels within a 3-decade span: from 1975 to 2005. Not only that, but she has no idea why, and can’t remember anything before the time travel started 8 months ago. Her sole focus is on finding her way home… but she doesn’t know WHEN home is or how to get there! Terry’s got a lot working against her… headaches, memory problems, “switching” (that’s her word for time traveling) every couple weeks or even every few days, and no way of finding out what’s going on. Then finally… she meets another time traveler.
The plot kept me hooked from the get-go, because unlike most YA books, I had absolutely NO idea where this one was going! But I don’t want to talk much about the plot because I don’t want to give away any spoilers!
Terry is a GREAT character. She is one tough cookie, very wry and sarcastic, and totally relatable. I loved how the main focus of the book wasn’t the time travel itself, but Terry’s REALITY, which is survival. Imagine if this was happening to you… would your focus really be on the bigger issue of `what is time travel all about?’or would it be: where to sleep, how to get food, how to stay warm? Terry is of course homeless, and the author really nails how miserable this would be. Terry is hungry all the time, she’s learned how to steal (but hates doing it), and is desperately lonely.
I don’t want to give away the actual plot, so let me just say… it will keep you turning the pages! A very bittersweet ending, too, which continued to keep the book very `real’. This is the `realest’ time travel book I ever read; the author even has a plausible explanation for Terry’s Switching! And there are laugh-out-loud funny parts too… I LOVED Terry and will re-read this soon.
Oh, and the e-book has some cool extras too… a neat article about how the author “found” her character, and some cool photos too!