Geoff Visgilio on how SWITCH reads like a modern day Greek tragedy

SWITCH received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Geoff Visgilio.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The book is titled, SWITCH, and it was published in the early summer of 2016.

What’s the book’s first line? 

“She’s changing,” Miller says, pauses. “It’s hard to explain.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

SWITCH is told like a play in three acts. The story follows Miller and Evelyn Coretti, a marriage in disintegration. The two are scarred by tragedy and drifting apart from each other. In the midst of this, Miller begins to worry his wife may be going insane. His methods for discovery and the ensuing showdown that follows lead inexorably to a climax that will haunt you. Drawing its powers from a claustrophobic setting and wildly unstable characters, the story pulls you into madness. Whose madness is up for debate, and Switch is told in a non-linear fashion, to further disorient all but the hardiest of theater goers. Like most great plays, the audience knows where the drama is heading, but they are held riveted by how it gets there. Switch is a sharp, tight thriller that transcends the genre in many ways, making it a wholly unsettling work of its own.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Capgras Syndrome is a rare condition where the patient believes his spouse or people close to him have been replaced by imposters. That idea was the original inspiration for the book. I ceaselessly chewed on that idea and played with it, and that’s the spirit in which Switch was written. But as the story unfolded, it was the real terror of insanity that shone through – the fear of things spiraling out of control. I had wanted something akin to Invasion of the Body Snatchers – and there’s homage to it towards the end. But what started as science fiction was turning into something much deeper. Some of the themes in Switch are compelling: what it is to love someone with an unstable mind; the idea that maybe crazy is only relative; questioning one’s reality. I wasn’t even sure what genre to give it. Horror? Literature? The way it’s told and the pacing demand it be called a thriller, but I think Switch turned into quite a bit more along the way.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

Because it’s a great story. There is heart and emotion here, the characters are vulnerable and tragically human, but the story is really the gem. The way it plays out, the way the tension ratchets up, and the disquieting questions it leaves behind, Switch reads like a modern day Greek tragedy. It speaks of what we hide under daily life and how little we really know about each other. Or about ourselves. Stephen King said in an interview that Pet Sematary was the one book he wrote that scared him. He was raising his kids at the time and his great fear was losing them. You can really see that truth come out in his telling of that story. Switch is like that for me. It’s a slim volume, but once you start reading, you’re in the grip of something primal.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

Miller and Evelyn remind me of every couple I see in their late thirties and early forties who are struggling just to keep the boat afloat in stormy seas. They’re good people for the most part, but pressure deflates their joy and their backs begin to bend. Whether it’s pressure from bills, or keeping up with the neighbors, or minding appearances, it takes its toll on even the most devoted of couples. What happens when love isn’t enough? When someone you care about heads into a place you know intimately, but cannot follow? Miller and Evelyn are a snapshot of the fading American dream. And as for Gloria? Gloria has no precedent. She is something altogether foreign.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I wrote my first short story when I was ten years old and the matter was decided. I remember it so clearly because I was working out the story in my imagination on the way home from dinner with my dad. There were images, scenes unfolding in my mind’s eye. I could tinker with these images, order them, and give voice to them. I remember going inside and sitting at my desk and writing this short story in one straight shot, many times trying just to keep up with what was coming out. My dad got me a word processor two years later and it was off to the races. I finished my first novel at 23, and it was godawful, of course. I published my first novel, Believe, in the Fall of 2013, and followed it up with my second, Switch, in the Summer of 2016. I’m working on a third as we speak. I don’t think I can stop. Writing is something I must do.

Is this the first you’ve written?

Switch is my second published novel. My first, Believe, came out three years prior. Believe was a beautiful but heavy book – it took years to write, and years to walk away from. I was deeply worried about sophomore slump, you know? How do I follow that up? I think I put a lot of pressure on myself, because there’s a flow to these things, you have to catch your stride just right. I knew my second book would be different, but I had to be sure it could stand on par with my first – that it solidified my voice instead of causing it to waver. And as Switch unfolded, I knew it was something powerful. So it’s a big win for me, I’m really proud of it. It’s proof to myself that I’m honing my skills and maturing as a storyteller.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I have to nod to Ray Bradbury, Chuck Palahniuk, and Henry Miller, but Stephen King has always been my hero – so much so that there is a wink to him and his Dark Tower universe in both my novels. His ability to take “ordinary folks” and throw them into impossible situations to see what they’re made of is damnably brilliant. And that guy can tell a story. His writing is colloquial a lot of the time, approachable, easy-to-digest and binge on, yet he touches on the truly profound in so many of his stories. All the kids were stuck reading Jayne Eyre in English class and I was hiding in the back hunched over the old 80’s hardcover of IT, breathless. He has made the biggest impact on both my writing and my imagination. By far.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L. Engle. It is the first book I ever bought with my own money and it was my first introduction to love across time – one of my very favorite stories. With honorable mention to The Damnation Game, by Clive Barker, and The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger.

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