Alexis Marie Chute on EXPECTING SUNSHINE: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Alexis Marie Chute.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

My book is called Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss. It was published on April 18, 2017 by She Writes Press.

What’s the book’s first line?

“It was September 2011 and my last photography job in my Year of Distraction.” This is from the first chapter of the book called “Conception.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

To explain my memoir, here is my third-person synopsis:

Expecting Sunshine is the real-life story of a mother who set out to find herself after the death of her baby. When she discovered she was pregnant again, she realized she had not grieved for her son, Zachary, who died of a cardiac tumor moments after his birth. In the nine months of her next pregnancy, told through 41 poetic and powerful chapters mirroring gestation, she began a journey in the pursuit of healing, hope and joy, all before she welcomed her next child. The book reveals the impact of trauma on marriage, faith, and identity. It is a raw, visually rich story, that invites readers into an intimate experience; one that will transform how they understand and talk about loss, parenting, and family.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

I was inspired to write Expecting Sunshine when I got pregnant after losing Zach. In no way was I prepared for what an anxiety-filled nine months lay before me. That season of life, full of its contradictions between joyful expectation and fearful worry, prompted me to begin writing. I knew others needed to know that they were not crazy, that pregnancy after loss is in fact one of the scariest experiences a mother and her family can endure – yet, at the same time, there is hope! The book is not at all a how-to-grieve-guide, but more of a companion, an intimate conversation between friends sharing what no one else is willing to talk about. That was one reason I wrote Expecting Sunshine.

The other inspiration is deeply personal, but a reason that anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to. Expecting Sunshine is my son’s legacy in the world. I felt compelled to tell his story and the profound impact his brief, yet still immensely important, life had on me. Meeting Zachary for those few minutes after his birth, and all the months I carried him below my heart, awaiting his birth; those moments define what love really looks like for me. The love of a mother for her child is sacrificial, knows no limits, and is eternal. Zachary inspires so much of the writing, art, and other work that I do.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Anyone who has lost someone they love – from a child, to a parent, even a fur-baby – will enjoy this book as it is a tender exploration of how death transforms us who live and how love never dies. It reads like a novel and yet shares such intimate and universal experiences that tug at the heart and cause us to question why we grieve, heal, and support others the way we do. It is a story at the heart of motherhood and female identity; those things which define who we are and what our places are in the home and in the world. In general, this book is for anyone who loves moving memoirs that envelop them in stories about family, personal exploration, self-discovery, and new perspectives on life.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

This is a strange question for me since my husband and I are the main characters in my book. People say that my celebrity lookalike is Kristen Bell, whom I believe is an extremely talented actress. I’d choose Kristen for myself. Chris Pratt would be a great fit for my husband, Aaron. Chris has the tall, rugged, yet warm teddy bear feel that is Aaron spot-on!

When did you first decide to become an author?

I don’t think I ever ‘decided to be a writer.’ For me, to write is deeply spiritual and quintessential to who I am. It’s this compulsive scratch that I must itch, my self-control being what it is. I am always writing: on my computer, phone, journals, the margins of books I’m reading, in my artwork, in my multitude of journals, on scrap paper and restaurant napkins. I’ve realized I have a quirky brain that narrates my own life and I am endlessly imagining new stories and worlds. As much as I believe my destiny is within my own hands, I do think I was born a writer.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

My creative life has multiple personalities. I am a writer, yes, but black letters on white paper is not enough for me. I divide my time, often in lopsided ways, between the literary and visual arts. From a young child, I have loved making things; art, sculpture, photography, and mixed media creations. I show my artwork in galleries and publish it magazines, literary journals, and beyond. It is for this reason that I have produced a documentary film on the same topic as my memoir. The book is a powerful stand-alone work, but the artist in me needed to tell the story – my story and those of the more than twenty-five other interviewees – in a distinctly visual way. My team and I are busy editing the film, which I hope will be complete by the end of the year.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I love the insightful short stories and personal essays in the book by the late Marina Keegan, called The Opposite of Loneliness. Her unique slant on the world deeply resonates with me. Marina was so young when she started taking her writing seriously and I really admire that about her. Her death is a tragedy on many levels; anyone who reads Marina’s words will understand what I mean.

 

 

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