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Beyond The Words, Past
A Science Fiction / Fantasy Column
By Courtney Skelton   

The Switch
By A.W. Hill & Nathanael Hill

Gripping! That is the word I found to be my word of choice for this book. The switch is one great read I was lucky enough to come upon while searching for a science fiction/fantasy book. The cover and the premise intrigued me enough that I made this the next book on my agenda, and was so glad I did! The story starts out simple enough to where I almost wondered if it really could be defined as a science fiction book. It did not take long before it sped up and hooked me in by doing so, while also expanding to have a breadth that seemed infinite. I loved the turns it took. I loved every character (To be totally transparent I have to say my favorite character was Gordon. Loved that guy!) that was met along the way. Each character was different in their own way and each brought something to the tale. It was easy to put yourself in the story and be a fly on the wall because the writing style put you there, from the descriptions of the sceneries to the facial expression on each person when they told us how they felt at the time. The book also used minimal analogies from movies and books, which I loved. Sometimes books use too many to where the story is using them as a crutch and not really relying upon their own writings to describe what is happening. Not here. This is a great read for any book lover and me personally, I would love for an executive from FX, AMC, or Netflix to get their hand on this and make this into a series. I would DVR it. No doubt.

The authors of this have agreed to take a few moments out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions to give the MyShelf readers some insight as to who there are.

Corky: Let me start by saying congratulations on a great book. It shows a lot of thought, not to mention a lot of hours of writing to get everything right. I have no doubt readers will be loving this for years. How did the idea for The Switch come about? What was the spark that ignited this opus?

A.W. Hill The spark was a child’s curiosity, combined with my propensity to speculate about things of which I know little, like theoretical physics! Nathanael and I had lots of hours to fill in rainy, sleepy Northern Belgium, and so we spun all sorts of “what if’s.” One of his was “what if there was a switch…”

Nathanael Hill: I could be remembering this incorrectly, because I was pretty young, but I think I had the idea of writing a book like this with my father while living in Chicago, around maybe the age of 10 or 11. Obviously, nothing really sprung from it, since it was sort of a pipe dream, but once we found ourselves in a pretty uneventful point in our lives, it seemed feasible.


Corky: Some parts of the story have some deep and profound questions about life, and everything around us. Where there any points while writing this, even the two of you had moments of clarity, where it made you question what is going on in the real world?

A.W. Hill: All the time. Along with the “what if’s,” there were the “what if not’s,” like ‘what if you and mom had met three years earlier, or two years later…and still made a baby? Would it still be me?’ ‘What if someone had assassinated Obama before he was elected president?’ It makes you realize just how tenuous and contingent things are. It also makes you realize—if you accept the ‘many worlds’ hypothesis—that these things, in fact, may have happened.

Nathanael Hill: Of course! The kind of Man In the High Castle-esque thinking that the book lends itself to is something I love to discuss with people. There’s also the question of what we consider the “real world.” If every branch is explored in another universe, it seems to trivialize whatever happens in this one. However, since we unfortunately don’t have access to a Switch (at least, not one we would tell you about), all we can do is affect our own world, and hope the best for the others out there.


Corky: When you started writing the book, did you have the ending in mind, or did the story dictate how it would be concluded?

A.W. Hill: The only thing we knew was that the travelers had to get home in some manner. We did briefly consider a sequel-baiting cliffhanger, but that seemed like a cheat. The question was always what it would mean to get home.

Nathanael Hill: I think that some planning was made, but the final product ended up being drastically different than the blueprints we would have laid out regardless. What was interesting was seeing the characters grow as we wrote them out on the page… It was almost as if we weren’t dictating their actions, we were just telling their story. In the end, the book simply became a product of the world we created for our heroes.


Corky: Do you have anything other books (or other projects) coming out in 2018?

A.W. Hill: If only. I did have a book about film music (my other life) published this year. And I’m working on an adult novel about who leads a kind of evangelical crusade against artificial intelligence in a world of the nearfuture. But that’s more likely a 2019 book—assuming it gets picked up at all! As for Nathanael, he’s gotten a taste, and now-

Nathanael Hill: Well, personally, it’s unlikely. I’m interested in writing in the future, but with as much change as will be happening in my life the next couple of years -- what with college, moving, and whatever else -- I can’t see much opportunity to sit down and write a book. Once I’ve settled down, however, keep an eye out for my name in your local bookstore! (If they still exist).


Corky: Lastly, if your readers got one thing from The Switch, what would you want it to be?

A.W. Hill: A slightly altered way of looking at the world that emphasizes linkage and connectedness rather than simply causality. Branching possibilities. I think people would give more thought to their words and actions. I also think it might be the best way for ordinary mortals to understand quantum physics!

Nathanael Hill: A more philosophical view of the world. Today’s cynics see the world as very cut and dry, which hurts me. I can only hope that we make our contribution to this world by showing people that perhaps not everything in the world is as it seems, and to always think of life as something to be given your full attention and wonder.

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