Author Interview: Beth O’Leary

A grandmother and granddaughter swap lives in The Switch, a charming, romantic novel by Beth O’Leary. We spoke with author Beth O’Leary about the inspiration for the novel, the accents captured in her audiobook, and more.

“A cozy, hopeful escape that will make readers laugh, cry, and feel inspired.”

Kirkus, starred review

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

The Switch is the story of a grandmother and a granddaughter who step into one another’s shoes, and it was inspired by time spent with my own grandmother in the adorable little Cotswold village where she lived. I was fascinated by the community there, and wondered what it would be like as a young woman to have to step in to that world unexpectedly.

At first I imagined the grandmother would be unwell, but I quickly realized I actually didn’t want to write an older woman who was poorly. I wanted to write a woman who was 79 and just at the start of her biggest adventure, at the prime of her life. That’s how it became a full-on life swap, with the grandma coming down to London to try the dating scene!

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

Hmm…well, the story features a very seductive 70-year-old, an energetic Labrador, and a little kid dressed as a satsuma!

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I actually haven’t listened to the whole audiobook through—I find it quite difficult to listen to my own audiobooks! When someone reads out your work you hear it in such a different way, and I find myself itching to tweak the odd word….But the samples I have heard have convinced me that Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman could not be more perfect as Leena and Eileen. I love that Daisy does a very gentle Yorkshire accent, too—Leena has been away from home for a while, so it makes perfect sense that her accent wouldn’t be as strong as her grandma’s.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I have gotten into audiobooks in the last year or so, and I love them now. At the moment I’m listening to Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, which I’m really enjoying, but my absolute favorite audiobook is Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s so brilliantly done, with all the different actors reading the parts. I was completely gripped.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I have so much love for so many indie bookshops, both as an author and as a reader. I remember countless happy moments exploring the kids section in my local independent bookshop, P&G Wells, when I was a child. And now, as an author, I really value how much indies do to keep everyone’s love of reading alive. One of my favorite independent bookshops is in Liverpool, here in England, called Pritchard’s. Every time I drop in to chat to them about my new book they offer me a cup of tea and a snack, and tons of amazing book recommendations!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *