Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why "Switch"?

* A little announcement about "Third" before we get to "Switch": Listen to two "Third" excerpts here (Cocktail Hour Bar Rag). OK! Announcement over. That really was quick. *

Here's a little self interview to set the stage for "Switch," my next novel. (It will be out in about two weeks.) Here's the blurb for "Switch":

Ellora Landry and June Blue Sky meet after they find out a nurse switched them when they were newborns. Ellora and June are forty years old and have led vastly different lives. June, raised by hippie parents, is an out lesbian who has not had the best experiences in the love department. Ellora, from a conservative family, is coming to terms with her lesbian identity and has just left her husband.

Ellora and June experience an undeniable attraction. However, they are reluctant to risk their hearts, especially since that means revealing secrets and telling the entire story behind half truths.

Will they realize that perhaps they were fated to be together since their births?

1. Why switched babies?
A couple of reasons. First, anyone who knows anything about switched babies knows the Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg saga. I'm about their age, just a wee bit younger, and so when that case broke, I really identified with them. I wondered what my life would be like if it was discovered I was switched. Later on, another switched babies case hit much closer to home. This one concerned Callie Conley, Rebecca Chittum and the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, near my hometown. My  newspaper, The Roanoke Times, covered this story extensively, including while I worked there as a designer and copy editor. Additionally, my mother worked as a labor and delivery nurse and a neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurse at several hospitals, including the UVa hospital. She and I had several interesting discussions about how switches could happen and what hospitals could do and have done to stop them. In other words, it's something that's lurked in my  mind since I was a child. Pretty much all of my novels are taken from real-life news events.

2. Why does the switch in "Switch" come to light when June and Ellora are adults and not kids? (In other words, why not have the romance between the mothers of the switched babies and not the switchees themselves?)
Again, a few reasons. First, all of the switched babies cases I had heard about were exposed when the switchees were kids. That is, until I came across this case a few years ago. Two boys in Brazil were switched, and one always felt odd and left out. When he was a young adult, he paid for DNA testing and found out he was switched. How both families dealt with the fallout is interesting.

I could've done the mothers of small children as the romance leads, but I wanted the focus to be on the switchees. I could've done a YA/teen thing, but nah. I wanted my characters to have a lot of life experience behind them. I also wanted to do something different from all the switched cases out there, real life and fictitious. I don't know if anyone's been as old as thirty-nine/forty when the switches were discovered.

PLUS... see question below.

How did the switches happen? Have any happened this way in real life?
A nurse switched June and Ellora (and four other pairs of babies across fifteen years). The nurse looked for parents who resembled each other and for families who didn't live too close together. In her nursing career, she had that opportunity only five times, presumably. She knew what she was doing. Anyway, one reason I made June and Ellora forty is so that at the time they were switched, hospitals would be more relaxed about security. The switches didn't come to light until the son of the dead nurse read his mother's diary and found entries that she switched babies. He reported it to the police, and DNA tests confirmed the nurse had, indeed, done the switches. From my talks with my mother, yeah, it could've been done pretty easily, especially in these times. Who knows, this may really have happened at least several times around the world.

Why are June and Ellora from different backgrounds?
To create contrast and conflict, basically, and wish fulfillment. A lot of kids grow up wondering what'd happen if they find out they're princesses or the kids of movie stars--or they have this cool best friend with the coolest, most different parents. June and Ellora get to see that maybe the grass isn't greener on the other side. Or maybe it is. Maybe it's green on both sides. ;-)


Charis Maloy said...

Ooooohhhh and I still gotta wait???? grrrr. I am not a patient person when it comes to books!

Q. Kelly said...

You got a comment in, finally! Yay for something working. :-)

Charis Maloy said...

Had to create a google account. This thing won't recognize my Wordpress ID and I was fed up with not being able to comment on your blog! Still have to prove I am not a robot, but now it actually listens to me!