Interview with Chevy Stevens

Elise Cooper: Chevy Stevens is not your real name?

Chevy Stevens: Yes. I did not want to use my real name when I wrote my first book because I was self-conscious. Chevy came from a nickname used by my father and Steven is the name of my brother. My real name is Rene Unischewski, a complicated name to say the least. It is something I had to spell out my entire life so I chose an easier name.

EC: How did you get the idea for the story?

CS: As I was writing another story I second-guessed myself, because I was not connecting with the characters. Instinctively I felt it was not the right book, the premise was not strong enough. I decided to trash it and start over. I liked the idea of a woman living her life and something comes up to turn it into a tailspin. I took the same characters names and did include the scene of a home invasion at the cabin.

EC: Was any of this personal?

CS: I guess I was influenced subconsciously by what happened in my personal life. My father who was a violent alcoholic abused my mother. As I was writing I found I was thinking back on things. There was this double side where I respected my mom and recognized the domestic violence, but I really loved my dad. Even though he had these really bad issues there was a part of him that was really great. As Sophie was talking to her father I would have a tingling sensation at the base of my neck thinking, ‘wow. I never got to say this to my dad.’ I think I was able through Sophie to speak with my dad. But I want to make it clear this was not an agenda book. This book is not my family’s story.

EC: Did you ever experience, as Sophie did, disloyalty to your mom?

CS: Yes. I also went back to visit my dad. Remember Andrew was never abusive to Sophie. As with Sophie I also felt I had my own needs and I wanted to have a relationship with my dad. It was very painful and challenging to write. On a day-to-day basis both the fictional and real life fathers could be great to their daughters until they were stressed and started drinking. It seems I am protective of these memories. I channeled my longing for a father into Sophie’s feelings. The dads were clever and smart; yet, had massive anger issues that they could not control.

EC: What about the relationship between mother and daughter?

CS: My biggest goal is to show that the cycle can be broken. I took young Sophie’s quirks from my daughter who is four. I hope I portrayed what my daughter and my relationship will grow into and maintain the closeness Lindsey had with Sophie as she turned eighteen.

EC: It seemed people did the wrong thing for the right reasons?

CS: Yes. Because Lindsey did something to Andrew he went off and another bad consequence occurred. She had no other way of escaping and needed to buy time. This is the tragedy of life, when somebody does something that leads to something else. She unwittingly set off a horrific chain of events.

EC: How did you develop Lindsey’s character?

CS: I spoke with a therapist at length to make sure Lindsey was believable. It was challenging to put her in a victimizing situation; yet to make her strong and powerful. I had to make sure she did not permanently lose her sense of self, which is why I had her marry young, and not to be in the marriage for too long.

EC: It seems Angus, the large German Shepherd, was Lindsey’s security blanket?

CS: I had lived alone for eight years before I met my husband. I got a Pit-bull/Lab and I felt immediately safer with her around. Through Angus I wanted to show how a dog in your home creates a good protective feeling. They alert you, make noises, growl, bark, and appear threatening besides being a good companion. Dogs are the best things in the world so I wanted Lindsey to have one.

EC: You have a quote where Lindsey describes her situation with Andrew. Please explain.

CS: Yes. I wanted to show how desperate she feels with his drinking, spying on her, that she is terrified. I hoped with this quote I showed how she made excuses until things spiraled out of control and that is when she had a hard time justifying and lying to herself. At this point she was pushed to risking everything to leave him. Since I did not want him hitting Lindsey in every scene I wanted to demonstrate how he was able to hurt her even when he did not touch her.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

CS: It will be set in Seattle. A struggling, over worked mother is confronted by someone that wants to ruin her life.