Spring is officially here! With that comes book launches and events, albeit virtually! Please join me in celebrating the launch of local author and artist Alexis Marie Chute and release of her third book in The 8th Island Trilogy: Inside the Sun.
Here is a Q and A to find out more about this eclectic and independent artist:
Q&A with Alexis Marie Chute, author of The 8th Island Trilogy
Where did you grow up /live now?
I grew up and continue to live in the same city; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For two years I lived abroad in New Zealand, which was a fabulous adventure, and I don’t doubt there will be other distant lands in my future.
2. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
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, always. 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.
3. What advice can you give?
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 floodgates eventually.
4. 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 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!
5. What inspired your stories?
My memoir, Expecting Sunshine, arose out of the anxiety and introspection of my own life. I wanted to survive my pregnancy after the death of my son Zachary and not go crazy in the process. Coming out of it on the other side, sane and with a living baby, Eden, gave me hope that perhaps I had done something right. I wanted to share that hope with others who struggle with loss and growing their family in the midst of the storm of grief.
My 8th Island Trilogy was inspired by the belief that we go to extreme lengths to protect those we love. The trio of unlikely heroes learn that their past selves do not define their present bravery. They rally against unsurmountable odds and discover that they possess strength they never imagined. In many ways, the trilogy is a fictionalized look at the resiliency of the human spirit. That is a topic I am obsessed with and optimistic about!
The order of the trilogy is:
Above the Star
Below the Moon
6. Who is your favorite character in your trilogy and why?
I don’t like to pick, but if you promise not to tell the others: My favorite character is Ella. She is held back by her illness, but she still chooses to be strong for her family. She’s also smart, funny, and creative. She really cares about people, too; another reason she is so important in the story—especially as the trilogy continues.
Another neat point to mention is that The 8th Island Trilogy is told in both first person perspective (Ella’s chapters) and third person perspective (Tessa’s and Archie’s chapters). This is one cool distinction that sets it apart. Also the fact that it is a young adult series, but has main characters that are not teenagers. Yes, there is one main character—Ella—who is a teen, but her mom and grandpa also play leading roles. This is quite unique for the genre.
7. Is there a message/theme in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
The resiliency of the human spirit is what percolates up in most of my work. It’s the dogged determinedness that I see in so many people, no matter the hardships they face. They inspire me, and because of them, I want my work to inspire others.
8. Where can people find you online?
Facebook: Alexis Marie Chute, Art, Photograph and Creative Writing
LinkedIn: Alexis Marie Chute
With Covid-19, we are all social distancing. What does that mean for authors who have upcoming book launches? Creativity and social media play a huge role but also connections in the community.
There are so many ways to support each other as authors and it is essential as we are all in this together. Essential, not only now, but always. Authors support other authors and together we are a stronger voice for writers across Canada. There is room in libraries, in bookstores and on bookshelves for all of us.
On May 6th, I will post a blog for a creative author, artist and supporter of the arts, Alexis Marie Chute. Her third book of her trilogy will be released and this will be one of the stops for her Virtual Blog Tour.
I also wanted to share that Stonehouse Publishing has a "buy 2 books for $30.00" promotion for all of their creative titles. Here is the link:
Independent bookstores need support as well, so if you can order one of your favorite " to read" books from an Alberta independent bookstore, you are contributing to our arts industry in a valuable way.
Here is my hope for good health and happiness.
Stay well, stay strong and keep reading.
As we enter this uncharted territory for our generation, social connection matters more than ever. How do we stay connected to loved ones, across the miles, across the city, and across the street.? It can be especially difficult for those who are in self-isolation, the elderly in long term care, and those with compromised immune systems. I worry for the vulnerable families who are feeling anxiety and desperation, for the health care providers risking their lives for us, for the front line workers at the grocery stores, delivery people, government officials and the list goes on. This can be a time of worry and fear. It can also be a time to remember our shared humanity, our collective caring for each other. It is a time for healing through technology, waves through windows and the arts. Books, music, paintings can always bring us joy, but now, as Sheree Fitch wrote, they can bring us "a quiet joy."
I encourage you to reach out to authors, musicians and artists and let them know what their work means to you. We are here for you and want to hear from you!
Online book clubs are one way we can all stay connected. Please connect with me if you'd like to chat about Kalyna and the hope it brings.
KALYNAa novel by Pam Clark
Book Club Package (details)
Paperback $19.95 CAD
iBook $8.99 CAD
Amazon $8.99/$19.95 CAD
Kobo $8.99 CAD
Book Club Guide
WINNER OF THE 2016 EXPORTING ALBERTA AWARD FOR FICTION.
“...a plot that grabs and holds the reader’s attention.”— Bernice Morgan, author, ‘Random Passage’
Swept up in a whirlwind courtship, Katja and Wasyl begin life anew in a Ukrainian settlement of Western Canada. The dusty Canadian prairies promise hope and independence, but when war breaks out between the old world and the new, their newfound stability is shattered. Rumours of the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians haunt the new settlers. Would the country they love betray them like this? After Wasyl is taken into custody, the closely-knit family hopes to be reunited before all hope is lost.
Pam Clark grew up in Edmonton, Alberta close to Edna-Star. Kalyna is her first novel and is a tribute to her Ukrainian-Canadian heritage. She now lives in Calgary with her family.
Are you free on Wednesday, June 12th at 7 pm?
Join Precious De Leon and I as we tell stories, read poetry and generally converse about Writing Spaces along with a musician as part of Indie YYC's Storyteller Series at Koi Restaurant.
The theme of Writing Spaces lends itself to both literal and figurative interpretations and the sky's the limit to where our conversations will go: from Newfoundland, to Edna Star, to Dubai to Philippines to Japan to Calgary and more.
Join us for a literary feast of story, poetry and song!
March 12, 2016: What a celebration of Alberta literature in Edmonton; it was unforgettable. Surrounded by Edmonton readers supporting the Launch of STONEHOUSE PUBLISHING and their inaugural five titles, it was an evening where all the authors became fast friends and our publishing journey began. And ten of my teaching colleagues gave me a surprise gift of their love and support by driving up for this event!
I feel overwhelming gratitude for this story of Kalyna being out in the world for others to share. Kalyna radiates hope, forgiveness and love of family. After sharing the novel at many readings, writing workshops, book clubs and at schools these past three years, this journey has been more rewarding than I could ever have imagined. The incredible people I have met, the dances I've danced, and the stories readers have shared with me are a mosaic of wonder to me. I feel so honoured to be able to share my work with others and now, to have the opportunity to be a mentor for new authors with The Shoe Project, Canmore and Borderlines Writers Circle.
Thank you to the many libraries, book stores, schools and readers for keeping the spirt of Kalyna alive these past three years. Your support for Alberta and Canadian writers shines a bright spotlight on the talent of our artists and authors. We are stronger with each other. What a brilliant community!
Paperback $19.95 CAD
iBook $8.99 CAD
Kindle $8.99 CAD
Kobo $8.99 CAD
Book Club Guide
I am so happy to be invited to book clubs and have participated in events across Alberta and as far as Toronto via Skype. I am just an email away! Heading into Kalyna's third year, this book remains so dear to my heart and family history.
Mark your Calendars for February 1st and 2nd! Ten incredible inspiring women from the Bow Valley will share their stories at the incomparable ArtsPlace in Canmore. Tickets are selling quickly so check out the link today to avoid disappointment. From Vladi's son Jan's baby booties to Mira's graduation shoes to Ysabel's black suede winter boots, these stories will inspire and move you.
The Canmore Shoe Project is the inspiration of Canadian novelist, Katherine Govier, who writes,
“Shoes accompany us on all our journeys. They say who we are, where we came from and where we are going.” – Katherine Govier
It has been an absolute honour to work with these writers in this unique writing and performance project. Their intellect, humour, humility and creativity shine!
ArtsPlace is also featuring a photo exhibit for The Shoe Project. Be sure to visit if you are in the area!
Link to purchase tickets online:
The Calgary Arts Community is a vibrant evolving group of writers, artists and supporters. There are opportunities at every turn whether it be volunteering or participating as an audience in a diverse array of events. As a writer, I believe in the power of the written word to unify us. I was thrilled to be a volunteer with the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s conference in June and felt the power of community throughout the conference. There is mutual support, respect and understanding that is heartwarming.
Organizations have opened their doors for Kalyna these last few months including: Calgary Academy where I was honored to speak with and inspired by Grade 7 students engaged in a study of Social Justice. Tami Grondines, Event Guru from Chapters Indigo at Cross Iron Mills invited me to Book Club which was such a wonderful evening. I took a road trip West to Carbon Alberta where I learned historical events still impact lives today and to Drumheller Public Library where I met a modern day Kalyna and Wasyl, a young couple ready to begin their family in Drumheller. I shared Kalyna it is true, but their sharing of the immigrant experience in 2018 impacted me greatly.
Writers supporting writers is vital and, together, with two of my favorite writer friends, D.K. Stone and Lisa Murphy Lamb, we shared our books with a great crowd at Shelf Life Books in Calgary. What a brilliant kick off to the summer.
This writing camaraderie has extended into a wonderful project beginning this Fall. The Shoe Project is the project initiated by Katherine Govier. It pairs women who are newcomers to Canada with writers. The culminating project is a performance of their personal journeys. I am honored to be joining his project which will be based in Canmore, Bow Valley.
Experience Alberta! Embrace the enduring neighbourly spirit here, akin to that of Wasyl land Katja’s bloc community. The power is alive and well.
**I want to give credit to rug hooker Cheryl Bridger whose incredible piece stole th show at Art Oasis, Calgary Stampede this year! **
As the snow continues to fall today, I am grateful this is part of the ever-changing seasons we experience and that means Spring is coming soon. ACUA Arts has just published their amazing course list for Spring and events are popping up such as the first Edmonton Ukrainian Festival in May!
In January, I had the honour of attending the ZABAVA of Calgary dance troupe, Tryzub. Link: http://tryzub.ca What a celebration of family, community and culture as folk stories were retold through incredible dance and artistic expression. I was moved by the commitment to excellence and was honoured to share Kalyna as part of the silent auction for this event.
This month, I was thrilled to be asked to join a book club out of Toronto by Face Time. How wonderful that Kalyna is moving across Canada. Our conversation inevitably led to the sharing of personal family narratives and the stories we carry within us.
In March, I will be at Chapters-Indigo Book Club at Cross Iron Mills in Calgary. I am excited to engage in conversation about the history and present relevance of Kalyna in our complex and diverse world.
I will be continuing East in April to the Village of Carbon Library and Drumheller Library on April 21st. I will be presenting "History Unbound" as well as reading Kalyna and look forward to the community conversations very much.
The New Year is often a time for new beginnings and many of my friends say they want to develop their hobbies, their interests, more this year. I say, Go for it!"
Living creatively is instinctive and I hope you will find your outlet, your media to express yourself this year, be it music, art, writing or at the gym. We are all connected and offer a fabulous community of support to each other.
In six months, we will be a part of the Wild Rose Tri-It in support of YWCA Sheriff King Home, sheltering women and children and helping them to rebuild their lives. Rebuilding lives means rebuilding confidence and that feeling of value to yourself and to others. Giving back to the community provides us with an incredible foundation upon which to build. If you want to join us: go to -
www.wildrosetriathlon.ca to register today.
Believe that anything is possible in 2018. We are a world connected by our common humanity. Let this year be one of hope and moving forward.
See you at the starting line. We all have to begin somewhere!
I love history, art and literature and bring all three to my writing and teaching. I believe in the power of story and encourage you to share your own story.