An Interview with Alexis Marie Chute, author of The 8th Island Trilogy Book 2: Below the Moon
What is your education/career background?
My undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design. I have my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?
I have been writing since as far back as I can remember—and even before I could hold a pen. As a child, I was very creative and cerebral. I was always coming up with stories and adventures. Fortunately, I didn’t lose that trait as I grew up. I find writing inspiration everywhere, at all times. My brain is a sponge for my environment and stimuli. Sometimes this is overwhelming, but most often I use this hyper-awareness to my advantage.
Where/When do you best like to write?
I like to write surrounded by candles and incense. I cannot have distractions or a busy desk. My music choice is typically classical, like Vivaldi or Mozart, and nothing with words as I find I begin typing what I am listening to. I like to write at my vintage style black wood desk by the window in my room. My actual work-desk in the office is too distracting for me. I don’t have a “best time” to write except when I am crunching a deadline. I love deadlines as external motivators.
Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?
I am far too busy and productive to have useless superstitions about my writing. It has been valuable for me to be disciplined and approach my writing with bootcamp focus. I sit down and work. I love it, but if I only write when I feel like it, I will procrastinate till I’m dead.
When you are struggling to write, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?
Free writing is the best tool I have found to break out of writer’s block. I sit down and simply start typing, no matter what it is. Getting my fingers moving and the mental juices flowing always opens the floodgate eventually.
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story has characters that are simultaneously loveable and deplorable. The plot is unexpected and varied. There is a lot at stake, and the risks and rewards are always in flux. I can always tell a story is good when it keeps me up at night, lingers long after the last page, and I wish I had thought it up!
How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?
I get new ideas all the time. From everywhere. From everyone. A new lightbulb is constantly illuminated above my head. My struggle is not in finding ideas, but choosing which ideas are worth my attention and which ideas should be the focus for right now.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned that books are so hard to make and yet so rewarding and fulfilling. Creating books, for me, is akin to getting tattoos. I am terrified of needles, and thus do not have a tattoo of my own (One day!!), but my friends who get tattoos always tell me it’s addictive. You can never only get one!
What is your greatest challenge in writing?
My greatest challenge in writing any book is getting my bum in the chair, overcoming that procrastination. Once I’ve gotten over the initial hump, and am in the flow, I’m good to go in that department. Then the next struggle is when to stop editing. I am a relentless, picky, and perfectionist kind of editor. There comes a point, however, when I need to hold back and declare a book, “FINISHED!!”
How do your spouse/significant other/friends/family feel about your writing career?
All the close family and friends in my life have realized I am quite eccentric and am going to do what I want no matter how they object, so they have defaulted to being amazing cheerleaders instead—which I am beyond grateful for!!