Ever since coming up with the idea of Shifters – kids who have the power to undo any decision they make – I’ve asked myself what decisions in my life would I change?
Maybe I wouldn’t introduce one of my best friends to my ex-boyfriend. Or change my decision not to apply to Oxford University, despite the encouragement of my tutors. Then there was that job which made me miserable that I stayed in for too long.
But more often than not, after thinking things through, most of the time I settle on one answer: nothing.
Maybe it’s easy for me – as an adult – to say that. I have the distance that comes with age to look back on my decisions. The pain of actually living through the immediate consequences has passed and I can see with clarity how my choices – good and bad – have shaped the person I am today.
But I remember when I was a teenager I would make one bad choice and then beat myself up about it for months. One bad word thrown at a friend in anger. One drink too many. Guilt was a major feature of my life. (My catholic upbringing certainly helped with that.)
That guilt has made me, I hope, a kinder, more thoughtful person. I’ve seen how my actions affect those around me and I work hard to make sure I don’t make those bad choices again.
In my books, there are lots of kids with the power to undo their choices, but it’s only the protagonist Scott Tyler who can remember the changes he’s made. The other characters wipe away their mistakes like chalk off a board: a worrying idea I explored in CONTROL – the sequel to SHIFT.
As Scott himself says:
“Don’t you see? It’s only because you’re a Shifter that you allow yourself to make mistakes. Because you know you can wipe it away. Like… like a rough draft of a story. But pretty soon, we’re going to have to learn how to write our lives in permanent ink. With no erasers or delete buttons. And we’re going to fuck up and make mistakes. That’s what real, normal teenagers are supposed to do. They mess up and they learn from it. But Shifters never do, do they? They just blink and it all goes away. No need for second chances. No need to live with where you went wrong. So what kind of adults is that going to make us?”
If we don’t have the power to learn from our mistakes, we’ll end up making them again and again. So maybe that’s the real super power I wish we all had. As people and a society. The ability to look back, see where our choices have failed us, and make better ones next time.
Shift is available from amazon here, and Control is available from amazon here, and on goodreads here. Kim can be found at her website and at twitter.