The Ever-Evolving Inspiration Behind The Switching Hour

Guest post by Damaris Young

Writing THE SWITCHING HOUR was a lesson about overcoming my fears, but it also taught me that the inspiration behind why you write a story can often be discovered after it’s already been written. 

When I first started writing THE SWITCHING HOUR I was a very timid writer. I was afraid I just wasn’t good enough, that any story I might write deserved to be written by someone else as they would inevitably do a better job than me!

So, to overcome my fear, I started with a few elements I knew I wanted to include in THE SWITCHING HOUR – a drought, a creature that makes you forget your loved ones, a girl who is battling grief and loss and a goat. I was absolutely certain about the goat. 

As I continued to plot and change direction and add characters, I started to pluck up the courage to write from the heart and I began to become more aware of why those elements were important to me. 

The drought allowed me to explore climate change in far more depth than I had before, teaching me how extreme weather can have a devastating affect on all living things. In a way, it was writing THE SWITCHING HOUR that inspired me to become more conscientious of my own impact on the planet and that small changes can make a difference. 

Family is also a central theme in the book. The inspiration behind the relationship between Amaya and her small brother is drawn from my own experience of being an older sister to four siblings, particularly my youngest brother who I remember as a toddler. While I was writing THE SWITCHING HOUR and Amaya starts to forget her brother, I realised there were parallels to my own life and that in a way I mourned the loss of connection with my siblings as we all grew older. It brought new meaning to what it means to forget and that you can grieve for a memory of someone that no longer exists. I began to want THE SWITCHING HOUR to be about reconnecting with loved ones in the present, while also cherishing the past. 

As the story progressed, I chose not to describe the dream-eating creature in great detail, instead leaving it to the imagination of the readers. As a monster, I wanted it to represent that which haunts us, showing that fear is different for everyone. In the story, Amaya is afraid of forgetting her mum and her brother and she is brave in the face of those fears. I hope that THE SWITCHING HOUR will encourage positive thought and action and show that true courage is defeating the things that scare us, no matter how big or small. Inspired by my childhood fear of the dark, the creature also came to represent my fear of climate change, both equally scary at different times of my life. 

Lastly, the goat companion was inspired by my loyal dog Jack, who is as stubborn as a goat and has been my constant companion for more than ten years. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about THE SWITCHING HOUR. It is a story that taught me to conquer my fears and to write from the heart and I hope it inspires other writers that, if I can do it, they can do the same.

If you haven’t yet read The switching hour you can find my blog here, and you can also purchase the book directly from Scholastic here.

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