Alexis Marie Chute is the author of Expecting Sunshine. Read on for her interview.
Anyone who has experienced—or knows someone who has experienced—miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or other forms of pregnancy and baby loss should read Expecting Sunshine, including those considering or already pregnant again.
After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth, visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her “Year of Distraction.” She cannot paint or write or tap into the heart of who she used to be, mourning not only for Zachary, but also for the future they might have had together. It is only when Chute learns she is pregnant again that she sets out to find healing and rediscover her identity—just in time, she hopes, to welcome her next child.
Q. What inspired your story?
A. My memoir, Expecting Sunshine, arose out of the anxiety and introspection of my own life. I wanted to survive my pregnancy after loss and not go crazy in the process. Coming out of it on the other side, sane and with a living baby 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 grief.
My 8th Island Trilogy was inspired by the belief that we will go to extreme lengths to save those we love. The three unlikely characters learn that their past selves do not define their present bravery. They rally against unsurmountable odds and learn 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!
Q. What do you want readers to take away from your book?
A. 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.
Q. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your books?
A. 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!
Q. Where do you best like to write?
A. 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.
Q. Who has helped you the most in your career?
A. My mom has been a relentless force in teaching me business and determination.
My husband, Aaron, has taught me self-care.
My children have taught me to shut off and be present.
Q. How do the people in your life feel about your writing career?
A. 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!!
Alexis Marie Chute is an award-winning author, artist, filmmaker, curator, and inspirational speaker. Her memoir, Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss, was a Kirkus Best Book of 2017 and has received many other literary awards. Expecting Sunshine is also a highly acclaimed feature documentary film produced and directed by the author. The film screened around the world in 2018 and 2019.