If you’ve had a chance to spend time with the Reds or other mystery/thriller writers, you probably know that they are some of the nicest, most generous people around. This has certainly been my experience with New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens. With six critically acclaimed books under her belt including STILL MISSING and the soon to be released, NEVER LET YOU GO, Chevy is not only a fabulous author, but also a wonderful friend. During a recent family health crisis, Chevy was a wonderful cheerleader via text and also offered to send me cupcakes and a masseuse named Sven. What more could you ask for in a friend? She very graciously accepted my request for a little chat on today’s blog.
CHEVY STEVENS: Thank you so much, Ingrid, for this lovely introduction. I was honored when you asked if I would like to guest post on Jungle Red. I’ll try not to mess it up or get too Canadian on you, eh? I never realized how many times I said "eh" until I was out one night with Ingrid and some friends in Seattle and they called me on it EVERY TIME. Apparently, I am a Canadian cliché. Really sorry about that. And I still feel terrible that Sven got snowed in and never made the trip. Can I offer you some poutine, Nanaimo bars, or a jug of maple syrup?
INGRID: I had no idea what a Nanaimo bar was, Chevy, until a box arrived on my doorstep! And cookies from Sven! He's so thoughtful! Let’s talk about work: Every writer has a different approach to producing a book. Do you have daily goals? Weekly? How do you make sure you meet them?
CHEVY: OMG, my new goal: Introduce Ingrid to the Nanaimo Bar experience. Done! I do have writing goals, but I’m not sure I have done a very good job with always meeting them. Life has a tendency to get in the way sometimes. When I’m beginning a new book, I usually have a daily word count goal or a plan of how many pages I want to show my editor by a certain date. When I am editing and revising, it’s not about page count, it’s about what I want to accomplish that day. For example, I might decide I want to finish rewriting a certain chapter or section by the end of the week. If I am feeling unfocused or under the weather, I will pick something easier, like fixing an old scene, instead of writing something new, which requires more brainpower.
INGRID: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer? The writing of a particular book or maybe getting published in the first place?
CHEVY: For me, the hardest part has been what happened after my first book STILL MISSING was published. I was beyond thrilled that it was successful, but I didn’t understand that would bring new challenges on my time. I still struggle with how to balance the demands of life with writing and marketing, especially now that I have a young daughter. Last year she started preschool, and I think we got every illness possible. I can’t work when my head is all muddled with fatigue, and I felt a lot of stress about missing my deadlines, especially because I was already behind on this book. However, without any deadlines I probably would nap and watch TV all day!
INGRID: I feel the same way in terms of dealing with competing demands on my time, and I don’t have any kids! Some days, the marketing and PR piece interrupts the writing, although it’s certainly a good problem to have. What else has changed for you since STILL MISSING was released seven years ago?
CHEVY: I feel a little more relaxed about the process now, but check back with me in a few weeks when my book hits the shelves! When STILL MISSING was released, the publishing world was so new and frankly, scary to me. I thought that everything had to be perfect—every blog post, every interview question, every Facebook or Twitter post. I still try to do my best, but now I realize perfection is impossible.
Earlier in my career, bad reviews cut me to the bone and could cripple my creativity. I still don’t like reading one if someone is being vicious or attacking me personally, but I can shake it off more easily now because I have the support of my fans and more internal confidence. I give everything I have to each book and that’s what is important to me—that I keep learning and growing and challenging myself.
INGRID: I’ve always been hugely impressed that you read all your reviews. You are a brave soul! What has changed for you personally in recent years?
CHEVY: I am in a much different phase of my life. When I started STILL MISSING, I was a real estate agent, single, still smoked (eek!), went everywhere with my beloved dog, Annie. I didn’t know what my future held, but I knew that I had to follow my passion. By the time STILL MISSING was published in 2010, I had quit real estate, sold my house, lived on savings for a couple of years, eventually went back to work, and connected with my husband on Facebook. Now we have a daughter—and two dogs!
INGRID: Authors do the actual writing, but it takes a village to bring a book to readers. What are some of the key relationships in your writing life?
CHEVY: A good relationship between an editor and an author is crucial, and I am blessed to have a fantastic editor, Jennifer Enderlin, at St. Martin’s Press. We have worked on over six books together, and I completely trust her feedback and enjoy our brainstorming sessions. My agent, Mel Berger, signed me after he read an early draft of STILL MISSING, and he makes sure that the business side is taken care of so I can focus on writing. Behind the scenes, I have worked with the same copyeditor for five books and had the same cover designer for most of them, too. I am really lucky to have a great support team at SMP and in Canada, and after this many books and years working together, I genuinely consider them friends, not just business associates.
During the writing process, I believe in having early readers because I don’t think that any one person sees things the same way and after working on a draft for months, it all looks the same. My critique partner, Carla Buckley, and another good friend, Robin Spano, read NEVER LET YOU GO and helped me take it to the next level—and kept me sane when I locked myself into a hotel room for the last week of rewrites. For my current project, I am very glad that YOU, Ingrid, were willing to show me around Seattle and share your sources, and helped me brainstorm, while we enjoyed some fabulous meals and desserts. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
INGRID: I am absolutely the woman for the job when it comes to fabulous meals and desserts, in the name of research, of course. This picture of the two of us was snapped during one of those research assignments, and clearly, we took the task seriously! Do you have any writing quirks? Location? Music?
CHEVY: I love, love ear plugs. I buy them in bulk and keep them stashed in my purse, my briefcase, and in my desk drawers. If I am working at home, I usually wear them—and sometimes I forget I have them in and just walk around the house with everything all nice and muffled. When I am working at a coffee shop or in a public place, I use my ear buds and listen to soft music. The other thing I can’t live without is a specific Microsoft wireless keyboard. I am so addicted to it I have two in use at all times and another brand new one in storage in case something happens.
INGRID: I’ll have to get the hubby to hook you up with the Microsoft store! Tell me your favorite thing about your upcoming release, NEVER LET YOU GO?
CHEVY: Oh, yes please!! I would go crazy in a Microsoft store. I would probably end up with a storage unit for all my keyboards. Sigh…what a wonderful thought. Right, back to your question! I really enjoyed the mother and daughter relationship in this book. It was lovely to write, and I truly hope that my daughter and I remain close like that during her teen years
INGRID: You’re a great mom; if anyone can navigate the teenage years, it will be you. As I mentioned before, you’re a wonderful friend, but I do have a bone to pick with you. If my productivity isn’t up to snuff, it’s often your fault since you love to text and email me the results of your favorite means of procrastination. C'mon Chevy, tell the readers more!
CHEVY: Oh ho! Now all your fans will be hunting me down and yelling at me for distracting you from your writing! Well, I have to confess it’s true—I do have a tendency to get really excited about a plan, which usually involves travel to some sort of retreat in a sunny destination, with poolside drinks and a beautiful view, and then immediately think about who I can drag along with me on my wild daydreams. I’m addicted to VRBO and TripAdvisor and spend far too much time working out the pros and cons of various hotels, villas, and flight options. Ingrid, I’m still holding you to the idea of you and I hosting a writers’ retreat somewhere exotic! Who’s in?
INGRID: I’m in, although, you don’t seem to be taking my suggestions very seriously. The naturalist resort in Mexico didn’t fit the bill as a possible location? ;)
CHEVY: The naturalist resort is still open for consideration! I just have to lay off the Nanaimo bars and hit the treadmill harder, and I’m game. Meet you there.
Have a question for Chevy? Just comment, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of NEVER LET YOU GO, either the ARC now or the hardback upon release.
Chevy’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is also running a giveaway that includes a free copy of THOSE GIRLS with the pre-order purchase of NEVER LET YOU GO.
Click here for details!
NEVER LET YOU GO – available for pre-order – released on March 14
Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.
Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?
With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.
CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for STILL MISSING, which went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.
Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.