Author Q & A with Kelly Harms
I have always loved the movie Freaky Friday, in which a mom and daughter switch places, and enjoy stories where people swap places with each other. In The Seven Day Switch, author Kelly Harms creates a story where two moms switch places with each other, something I am sure every mom has wanted to do at some point.
Kelly Harms has worked in the publishing industry for over 20 years; first as an editor at HarperCollins, then as a literary agent, and now as a USA Today, Washington Post, and Amazon Charts bestselling author of five novels. The Seven Day Switch is her latest novel, which publishes today. I hope you enjoy our Q & A.
Tell me a little bit about your book.
Here’s a very little bit, and it really does sum it up: Freaky Friday only with two moms switching places instead of a mom and a daughter. I mean, who really wants to port into a teenage body at this point anyway? No, if I’m going to walk in someone else’s shoes, I hope they’re comfortable enough to chase kids in.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
On this one the plot came first, because I spent some time wishing my life was different when my son was very little and everything felt very hard. I made a note to that effect on a scrap of paper and tucked it away years ago. I found the note some time later and Wendy, the working mom in my story, just popped into my head and said: I’ll take it from here.
I would love to hear about your research for this one.
We were on lockdown, so all research was homebound. Still, I had a great time pinging all the moms I know with the funniest questions about their day-to-day life. Luckily, they’re used to me, so weren’t offended when I asked the working moms if they ever slept in their cars in the driveway for ten minutes before starting the second shift or the stay-at-home moms if they ever posted something on social to make their life seem better than it really was. (Answer: yes to both.)
Something that did throw me for a loop was that I like to revisit my story’s locale after I finish the first draft and use that trip to inform edits and make sure I’ve used all those details that put you into a story. Considering I love fun settings, this means a trip to New York, Coastal Maine, the Northwoods, or ski country - hardly a sacrifice for me! This time, though, travel was a no go, so I had to very quickly sand down some of the location specifics and tell a story that could be set in nearly any suburb. (That said, there is a hint to the actual setting of the book if you read closely. I think the people who live there will notice it right away.)
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Perhaps ironically for a mom book, it was the demands put on moms over the last year, because of our global crisis, that challenged me most on this story. I thought it would be hard switching women’s bodies and minds, writing a story with a magical element for the first time, and making sure everything was very clear to the reader in those challenging POVs. It was, at times.
But what I really struggled with were the many moments when my heart was hopping around the nation’s hotspots and then the world’s, seeing so much suffering, keeping my family safe the best I could, and homeschooling all the while. Now, with so much hope on the horizon, I’m glad I stuck in there and did the writing and editing it took to be putting a happy, uplifting book into a world that definitely deserves a lift.
For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.
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