Exclusive Interview: “The Switch” Author April McCloud


If you’ve ever done it, you know: cat sitting for a friend is annoying. Stupid cats never stay still long enough for you to sit on them.

But for writer April McCloud, cat sitting for a friend wasn’t that bad, since it inspired her to write this new noir-ish cyberpunk sci-fi thriller novel The Switch (paperback, Kindle).

In the following email interview, she explains how that happened, as well as what else inspired and influenced this novel.

April McCloud The Switch

To begin, what is The Switch about, and when and where is it set?

A hundred years in the future, in a world where technologically enhanced bodies are valued above organic ones, Complete Life Management (CLM) is selling perfection in the form of the latest and greatest bionic model, the Apogee.

As an elite runner and inadvertent spokesperson for the humanism movement, NYPD Detective Naomi Gate has eschewed vanity upgrades. However, if she hopes to survive in New York City’s fierce criminal Underground and find her brother, she can’t show up in her organic cop body. When Jax Raelyn — CLM’s playboy CEO and Naomi’s boyfriend — offers her an unauthorized body transfer, she accepts in order to save the only family she has left.

Plunging into the Underground’s den of illegal body modifications and bionic hit squads, it turns out to be the first of several body transfers. And as the stakes rise, Naomi fears the price for saving her brother may be the thing she values most — her own humanity.

Where did you get the idea for The Switch?

I was chilling in my friend’s apartment, cat sitting while she was away. I looked around and thought, “I could see myself in this life.” That inspired me to examine the idea of buying and selling lives. It produced a pair of spec-fic books [as yet unpublished] that are written in a contemporary world similar to our own where people can buy and sell lives in order to “upgrade” to a higher tiered life.

After I finished those first novels, I felt I could push the idea further. I thought about how interesting it would be if, in addition to buying and selling a life, you could swap out your body while doing so. I wrote The Switch as happening one hundred years in the future, loosely connecting to the original books via the fictional company that sells lives, Complete Life Management.

And is there a reason it’s set a hundred years in the future as opposed to two hundred or a thousand or 10 thousand?

I read a Vonnegut novel one time that mentioned the exact year I was living in. It was an absolute gut punch to think that he was imagining the future that was my reality. The great dystopian classics are in worlds that feel like they could be ours, only tweaked just enough to be in “the future.” I choose 100 years because I wanted to do the same thing; a time period that was uncomfortably close to our own, both in time and circumstances.

Also, is there a significance to Naomi being an elite runner as opposed to just someone who jogs or maybe being really good at some other sport or athletic activity?

I chose running because of how the sport delineates different age categories for people to compete in. I thought it could be really interesting to have categories focus on “percent of bionic parts.” You find out pretty early on that Naomi is seen as a “spokesperson for the humanism movement” because of her commitment to competing in the most human classification. I felt that running embodied the spirit of individual competition and camaraderie, as well as something I could personally draw upon, having been an avid runner myself before I became disabled. That said, I was the type of runner who ran an inadvertent marathon (not accidental, as I knew what I was doing, it just wasn’t the original plan).

It sounds like The Switch is a cyberpunk sci-fi story, and maybe a little noir, but not dystopian, or at least not heavily so. How do you describe it, genre-wise, and why that way?

It has a lot of the assorted elements you’ve named, and I’d agree that it’s not exactly a dystopia. If anything, it’s a capitalist dystopia, where you dive into the world of perfection being sold vis a vis the “upgraded” human body. I describe it as a sci-fi story with the pacing of a thriller, because I really wanted it to feel as if it has the momentum of an action film. There just also happens to be a commentary on humanity, thrown in there, amongst all the explosions and fighting.

The Switch is your first published novel, though, as you mentioned, you’ve written others that haven’t been published yet. Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on The Switch but not on anything else you’ve written?

[Philip K. Dick’s] Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep has always haunted me, and made me wonder about what exactly makes us “human” and whether or not that has anything to do with the biological matter in which we are made.

Additionally, a lot of classical Zen Buddhist texts informed the narrative’s outlook on humanism, in an increasingly technological embodied world.

How about non-literary influences; was The Switch influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games? Because it’s kind of giving me Ghost In The Shell vibes.

You have 100% called me out; I am a big fan of anime. There are certainly Ghost In The Shell and Cowboy Bebop vibes, along with some very anime / superhero cartoon inspired fight scenes. Mech suits like those in Gundam are present, but do not play a role once Naomi gets into more weaponized bodies. A lot of the “black market upgrades” are things straight out of Japanese horror… I am still creeped out by “fly eye guy.”

Also need to give a shout out to Samus from Metroid; she was inspiring to a young girl who wanted nothing more than to do martial arts and blow up some baddies.

And what about your cat, Inari, and your guinea pigs Mama Boo, Baby Boo, Rosette, and Sakura? How did they influence The Switch?

I’m so glad you asked! Fun little easter egg is that my cat Inari formed the basis for my main character Naomi’s NYPD partner, Inari Hayashi. They are similar in name but also temperament. Though, to be fair, my cat is far more willing to turn to physical violence than my character Inari is.

April McCloud The Switch



As for the guinea pigs, they mostly keep their critiques focused on my failure to provide enough salad for their liking. However, they have also literally chewed on drafts of my works before, letting me know their thoughts on my writing as it comes out the other end. But hey, writers gotta write, piggers gotta chew.

Sci-fi stories, be they cyberpunk or not, are sometimes stand-alone novels and sometimes part of a series. And that’s also true for novels about cops. What is The Switch?

In literary speak, The Switch is a “stand alone novel with series potential.” To translate, in writing it I intended to just write one book — but I had so much fun other story ideas popped up, so there’s going to be at least another one.

So, what are your plans for this series?

I am one of those people who refuse to start a series until it is finished; I’ve been burned before. [But] as I said, this book is written as a “stand alone with series potential,” which is my fancy way of saying “I swear this will not leave you languishing in agony if you read it right now!” I make this promise to you on the basis of story: there is closure at the end of this novel. The next one I have planned takes place a couple years afterward, so if I manage to get the book into your hands in a couple of years, you’ll be right on track.

Earlier I asked if The Switch had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But to flip things around, do you think The Switch could work as a movie series, a TV show, or a game?

My new literary agent actually had me create a pitch to add to the list that is offered to Hollywood producers, so I’m hopeful that someone will opt for it. Because who doesn’t want to see a bionic hit squad fight in a NYC subway or watch a bunch of spybots infiltrate a secret hideout?

What if someone wanted to make a game based The Switch? What kind of game should it be?

While I think it would make an awesome movie, I’d love to see a card game focused on building your own bionic warrior. Exploding Kittens already has a really great basic game play premise in Bears vs. Babies. In it, you draw cards with weapons / body parts that create grotesque, Frankenstein’s Monster sort of creatures. This would work perfectly with a variety of black market bionic body parts cobbled together to form your very own atrocity against nature.

So, is there anything else you think people need to know about The Switch?

Look gang, I know you have lots of choices in what you read, so I’m gonna be real. What I have to offer you is this: bionic hit squads, zany monks, martial arts / action scenes, and a thoughtful discussion about how our society commercializes bodies, specifically from a disabled and genderqueer perspective. Oh, did I mention spiderbots? Yeah. There are spiderbots. Wearing an assortment of tiny hats, friends. You wouldn’t want to miss out on spiderbots wearing tiny hats, would you?

April McCloud The Switch

Finally, if someone enjoys The Switch, what noir cyberpunk sci-fi novel of someone else’s would you suggest they check out next?

I’d like to recommend Al Hess’ World Running Down. Al is an artist and writer, and he also writes near future cyberpunk sci-fi with queer, trans, and neurodivergent characters. World Running Down is a high-stakes, fast-paced love story between a trans salt flat pirate and an A.I. forced to live in a human body against his will. You can find his work and incredible art at his website.



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