Novelist Chevy Stevens photographed at the Crow and Gate pub in Cedar, BC. (Photograph by Don Denton)

Novelist Chevy Stevens photographed at the Crow and Gate pub in Cedar, BC. (Photograph by Don Denton)

Author Chevy Stevens is a powerhouse of her genre

Vancouver Island writer is a New York Times Bestseller

  • Aug. 29, 2018 8:55 a.m.

“I always wanted to be a writer,” begins New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens. “I just never had a story.”

We’re sitting in the Crow and Gate pub in Cedar, sipping matching cups of chamomile tea and surrounded by the amiable chatter of a score of regulars. It’s a little hard to believe her. For a woman who’s written half a dozen successful “domestic suspense” thrillers, she seems to have no trouble coming up with stories now.

It’s all about the “what ifs,” she tells me.

The history of her first novel, Still Missing, is well known by now: a real estate agent at the time, Chevy was hosting an open house more than a decade ago when a “what if” moment hit that would change her life exponentially.

What if she never made it home?

The scenario took on colour and detail and tension, and grew into a terrifying and dark tale of abduction and escape. It was the first time she’d written seriously since high school (aside from thrilling descriptions of hardwood floors as a realtor, she laughs). Within six months she had sold her house and made the leap to full-time writer. It took her five years from the moment the idea sparked to seeing the book in hardcover in 2010, and she’s never looked back.

Chevy’s stories have run the gamut from abductions to murder, abusive spouses to cults, perpetually treading the razor edge between terror and tension. The plots centre on “something scary happening to relatable people,” and it’s what comes naturally, she says.

Seven years and six books later, her stories have been published in more than 30 countries, and Chevy has cemented herself firmly as powerhouse in her genre.

Having Still Missing become a New York Times bestseller, and the subsequent success of each following title turned her life upside down in the best way.

About 10 years ago, she attended her first Surrey International Writers Conference, and remembers being excited to see Outlander’s Diana Gabaldon there. In 2015, Chevy again attended the conference, wearing her author’s hat this time, and found herself doing a panel and a signing with Gabaldon and Jack Whyte.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m riding in a van with Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte,’” she says, recalling the sense of disbelief. “It came full circle. It was pretty cool.”

“My life has changed enormously. I was a single girl with a dog and a beat-up Jeep Cherokee,” she says with a laugh. Now, she’s a full-time writer, married and the mother of a whip-smart almost-five-year-old.

Chevy grins as she shows me a few pictures of her daughter: on their way to the spa, on a road trip, the pair of them sporting fashionably large sunglasses.

Her writing changed with the arrival of Piper, she says, moving away from the gruesome depictions in Still Missing to a subtler, but no less nail-biting approach.

“Having a child, I don’t want to live in the dark. My own tastes have changed.”

She adds: “I like to write about marriages, about mothers. I feel it more.”

Away from her keyboard, she embraces her own role as wife and mother with enthusiasm. She and her family revel in domestic bliss: going on adventures, walking the dogs, binge watching television shows. They’ve been to Butchart Gardens three times this year, and nearly always tour the Royal BC Museum and Munro’s Books when they visit downtown Victoria.

Writer Chevy Stevens photographed at the Crow and Gate Pub in Cedar, British Columbia (Don Denton photography)

And she reads. Oh, how she reads.

“I loved fantasy as a kid,” she starts, and immediately tells me to check out Holly Black (of Spiderwick and Modern Faerie Tale fame). But before we get pulled into a black hole of favourite authors and beloved books, we veer the conversation back.

Drawn to the written word her whole life, now with a writing group, critique partners and friends in the industry, Chevy’s found her tribe. For someone who admittedly felt out of place for many of her younger years, it was a revelation.

“When you find your people for the first time… My group of friends are my people,” she says.

With strong support already from her family, finding like-minded friends and colleagues just made the writing life all the sweeter. Now, her husband looks after Piper while she works. She spends four or five hours a day writing new material, and countless more hours marketing, researching, editing and revising.

Her current work-in-progress is still tightly under wraps and ever changing, but she lets me in on a couple details.

It’s the first time she’s used a restaurant as a main setting, it’s the first time the reader gets to see inside the head of the (unknown) antagonist and it’s set in Seattle, making it the first novel set outside of Canada.

A meticulous researcher, Chevy’s been immersed in getting the details just right, making the trek south of the border and talking to the Seattle police force.

“You have to feel it,” she says. “Are there sidewalks? What do their [the police] business cards look like? Do they wear suits?”

It’s that attention to detail throughout her books that puts you in the middle of a dusty Alberta afternoon where you can feel the heat, or in a remote cabin in the mountains where your fingers slip over padlocked cupboards and barricaded windows. It’s what pulls you in on the first page and doesn’t let you go until the last.

And as her writing has evolved, so too has her confidence.

“I think I trust my instincts more,” she says. “When I get that warning sign that something’s not working. I know more. I know what it has to be, so I know when it’s not there.”

“I’m a lot more confident. I found something I’m respected for. There’s a validation there, for sure,” she says. “After six books — my last one did really well — you think, maybe I can keep doing this.”

– Story by Angela Cowan

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

authorBestsellerChevy StevensMysteryNovelNovelistSurrey International Writers ConferenceThrillervancouverislandWriter

Just Posted

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Kids from a MOSS Sailing Camp sail just off Canal Waterfront Park in Alberni Inlet during a day camp in August 2014. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
MOSS Sailing camps return to Alberni Valley

One-week camps designed for kids will take place at Sproat Lake

Robert Gunn of Alberni Climate Action loads garbage discovered in the Alberni Inlet around Cous Creek into his canoe during a recent ocean shoreline cleanup. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Climate Action group creates NIC scholarship

Students attending college full time may apply through NIC

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read