Today, we're thrilled to welcome Alexis Marie Chute to YABC! Alexis is the author of BELOW THE MOON, and we sat down with her to ask a few questions. Check out her book and the interview, and then be sure to enter the giveaway below!
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Ella Wellsley is not your typical teenager. Cancer left her mute, but not powerless. Trapped in a parallel dimension, Ella rallies her strength to join her family―her mother, Tessa, her grandpa Archie, and her magical boyfriend―in locating the cure to her illness. This cure is entangled in the fate of all worlds, and threatened by the presence of an evil Star anchored in the sea. The Star has thrown life everywhere into chaos―and it is Ella who holds the key to unlocking its mystery.
Caught in a web of betrayal, mistaken identities, secrets, and love triangles, Ella, Tessa, and Archie must overcome their troubled pasts to ensure a future for all worlds. On this journey―armed with unearthly abilities and unexpected allies―each member of the Wellsley family will learn the power of love in the face of their greatest fears.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ALEXIS MARIE CHUTE is the author of the multi award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss (She Writes Press, 2017). Expecting Sunshinewas a Kirkus Reviews’ Best Book of 2017 and an IndieReader Top 10 Best Reviewed Book of 2017. The memoir has been honored with distinctions including the Benjamin Franklin Book Award, Eric Hoffer Book Award, Royal Dragonfly Book Award, Best Book Award, IndieReader Discovery Award, Next Generation Indie Book Award, and a Canada Book Award.
Above the Star (SparkPress), her second book, was published June 5, 2018 (Spark Press). Above the Star is book one in the epic fantasy series called The 8th Island Trilogy (slated for release 2018, 2019 and 2010). Critics are calling Above the Star a “Must Read” and “A Wrinkle in Time meets The Princess Bride.” Bookstr included Above the Star the “2018’s Top 15 Unputdownable YA Reads.”
Chute is a distinguished writer, artist, photographer, and filmmaker. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from the University of Alberta, Canada, and studied at Media Design school in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated valedictorian with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, USA.
Chute has received over 40 noteworthy distinctions for her visual and literary work. For her decade-and-a-half effort as arts advocate, she was named the recipient of The John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts. She was also named an “Emerging Canadian Photographer” by Photo Life Magazine and an Avenue Magazine “Top 40 Under 40.” In 2018, she received a Horizon Award for distinguished graduates of the University of Alberta. Chute was featured in print and video as mother-expert in the pregnancy loss awareness campaign by Today’s Parent Magazine, which won first place at the 38th Annual National Magazine Awards for Best Editorial Package on the Web.
Chute was the 2012/2013 Artist in Residence at Harcourt House Artist Run Centre, where she began her ground breaking fine art photo and documentary series, “The Quiet Rebuild,” featuring volunteers from around the world. Her visual and literary work on the topic of resiliency has been exhibited and published internationally. Her bright-bold abstract paintings are represented at the AR&S Gallery at the Art Gallery of Alberta. Chute also curates the Canada-wide InFocus Photography Exhibition during Exposure Photography Festival. She is the Curator in Residence at the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel.
Chute’s memoir is accompanied by the feature documentary film, also called Expecting Sunshine, which she directed-produced. The film won Audience Choice Best Film of 2018 at the Central Alberta Film Festival, where it was also shortlisted for Best Documentary Feature of 2018. Expecting Sunshine Documentary was also a semi-finalist in the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, a finalist in the US Hollywood International Golden Film Award and the International Women’s Film Festival. The film began screening internationally during 2018 at venues such as the Arizona International Film Festival and the International Congress on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival in Glasgow, Scotland, for example. It continues to be shown around the world in 2019 and 2020, including the Nice Film Market, France, and beyond.
Chute’s writing has been published in TIME Motto, Scary Mommy, Womanista, Today’s Parent, PhotoEd Magazine, WestWord Magazine, Vie, Edmonton Woman Magazine, Flurt Magazine, Mind Body Green, The Good Men Project, Still Standing Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Smart Healthy Woman, and many others.
She is a highly-regarded inspirational speaker and teacher. She has presented on business, art, photography, writing, filmmaking, bereavement, and the healing capacities of creativity around the world.
When not in her art-photography-film studio, writing at her computer, or on a leg of her international tour, Chute loves to spend quality time with her family, read both fiction and memoirs, watch reality TV, paddleboard, and canoe. She is not a winter person but lives in the frosty city of Edmonton with her husband and their living children.
Visit the author's website for more info.
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I was inspired to start writing The 8th Island Trilogy after a devastating loss in my life. A healthy distraction was needed, and I chose fantasy writing. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was the perfect impetus to pump-out a story. My fantasy writing proved to be the perfect escape and became one of the great passions of my life. My loss inspired me to think about resiliency and bravery. Those two topics—character qualities, actually—are at the forefront of my books.
2. Who is your favourite character in the book?
I love Ella Wellsley, our young teen hero who has all the odds stacked against her. She’s a cancer kid. Cannot speak, aka communication is challenging—but she always finds a way! She does sign language—poorly—and draws to get her thoughts out. She is artistic and creative, with a sharp wit and humorous slant to life. Ella gives herself time for pity parties but then moves on. She is the heart of her family and the love they share, while imperfect, can inspire us all. When she gets accidentally transported to a new world, her character blossoms and as readers, we fall in love with her more and more with each page. She embodies compassion, creativity, and bravery.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely, the novel came before the title. It always does for me. My head lives in long-form storytelling and when I need to come up with a title I panic! I came up with the title of book one in the trilogy—Above the Star—after three hours of brainstorming ideas with my bestie. We finally shut-up and took some time to meditate on it. The title popped into my head. The next two books—Below the Moon and Inside the Sun—were much easier to title after Above the Star. Still, I hummed and hawed and asked my community on social media about a variation on the third title. In the end, I went with my gut.
4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I can’t be specific here because of mega spoilers… but I will say: My endings are amazing—for all three books in the trilogy. My book beginnings can be slow—one thing I’m working on as a writer—but my endings! Oh my! Twists and heartfelt moments and big-picture revelations that give you goosebumps. Endure the beginnings because the middles and endings are worth it!
5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve learned that I must—no exceptions—set myself deadlines. These keep me motivated, even when I don’t succeed. To go along with my writing deadlines—aka, I must finish this book in 6 months—there must also be accountability. I tell my social communities what my goal is. I tell my family. I blog about it, post Instagram photos about my progress, and track my work on my YouTube channel. The pressure of public declarations keeps me on track to reaching my writing objectives. Plus, then I have a community of people to celebrate with when I finish a project!
6. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love all three covers in The 8th Island Trilogy. The dotted lines are playful and fun, and they lead to these emoji-like graphics. These graphics are actually clues to what is to come in the story—so look closely! I’m a big fan of color and Above the Star, Below the Moon, and Inside the Sun are colorful, to say the least.
7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor captivated me last year. After pre-ordering and not so patiently waiting for Muse of Nightmares, book two, I hope to finally read it this summer. When I am in the heat of writing my own work, it can be distracting to live in another author’s world simultaneously as the one I am creating. While writing, I continue to read a lot, but the books tend to be in the non-fiction realm. I’ve also purchased Finale by Stephanie Garber, and it too is on my summer reading list.
8. What’s up next for you?
Oh, so much!! Very soon I will be recording the audiobook for my memoir Expecting Sunshine. I’ll also be working on a few workbooks about creativity and healing. Plus, there are some seeds planted and growing in me to do a graphic novel series and offshoots of The 8th Island Trilogy. AND, another memoir is burning in me… so I’m a little busy, but everything is good and connected, which helps.
I’m also an artist, curator, filmmaker, and public speaker, and have many projects on the go in those areas. I’d recommend people check out my website to see all my creative work—it’s a lot!
9. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I once hated revision but now it rivals all other stages in the creative process for my favourite step in writing a book. The creative side, where I am inventing in penning a first draft, is wild and unpredictable. It’s a fun stage, but editing is where the story becomes rich. One book I recommend on separating these processes is Writing on Both Sides of the Brain by Henriette Anne Klauser.
10. What would you say is your superpower?
My superpower is my energizer bunny mind. Idea generation, as sexy as that sounds. Ask me to come up with an idea and I’ll give you 100. Even in my sleep, my mind races creates and invents. On a less realistic slant, I wish I could fly!
10 winners will each receive a signed ARC (advanced review copy) of BELOW THE MOON. The contest is open internationally. To enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to see the winners announced!