Q&A with Damaris Young
Welcome back to our author Q&As! Today we’re welcoming Damaris Young, as her debut novel The Switching Hour publishes this month! A bewitchingly beautiful, spine-chilling story of courage, friendship and heart-racing adventure, The Switching Hour is a book that is sure to stay with you long after you read the final page.
The Switching Hour has a strong folklore/folktale element to it. Has that tradition of storytelling always been important to you?
Since childhood, I have been fascinated by the tradition of storytelling and that wherever you are in the world you’ll find a story to send shivers down your spine. I love collecting fables and fairy-tales, lore and legends that have allowed readers to explore their fears from each corner of the globe, which in turn influenced my own legend in The Switching Hour, a story about of a creature that is awoken by a drought.
How did the Badeko, the dream-eating creature, come about?
It was a fear of forgetting things from my childhood that unconsciously sparked the idea for a creature that eats dreams and steals away memories. As we get older, memories of our past inevitably begin to fade, nothing is quite as clear as it used to be. It’s a very scary notion, being forgotten or forgetting those you love, but (without giving away any spoilers!) The Switching Hour aims to leave readers feeling hopeful and with a deeper understanding of what it means to cherish special memories.
Badeko appears at twilight. What significance does that time of day have for you?
As a child, I was afraid of the dark and would dread the twilight hours, when it was time to go to sleep. To distract myself, I would tell stories of shape-shifting creatures that came alive at night, to entertain my younger brothers and sisters, with ourselves as the brave protagonists. By telling stories, I felt empowered against the darkness and learnt not to be afraid.
Drought plays a big role in the book. What do you think writers can do to encourage people to take climate change seriously?
Climate change is often a confusing and frightening subject to talk about and can add to all the other anxieties that children often experience, such as demands to connect through social media, the pressures to achieve and the constant bad news in the media. One way that writers can encourage people to talk about climate change is by approaching the subject in an empowering way. In The Switching Hour, the dream eating creature that is awoken by a drought represents climate change, that the young protagonist fights against, much like the younger generation of today are becoming involved with The School Strike For Climate. Reading and discussing stories with children that broach big issues such as climate change are a great way of starting the conversation about the subject, without it sounding too overwhelming.
Damaris Young studied on the writing for young people MA at Bath Spa University, where she wrote her debut novel The Switching Hour, whose fictional setting was inspired by the landscape and legends of Southern Africa, where she spent her childhood. She now lives in Bristol with her partner and two dogs. Grief is one of the most complex and overwhelming emotions that we can experience in life, and talking about grief is so important.
For more insights into Damaris’s world, head over to her Twitter, or her website .