By Leslie Lindsay
A brilliant and unique tale about mysterious disappearances along the Cold Creek Highway, one dark road where you never see the twists coming.
WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS
ALWAYS WITH A BOOK
Chevy Stevens & Leslie Lindsay in conversation
Chevy’s books, including Still Missing, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, have been published in more than thirty countries.
Is it bad luck or the work of one or several serial killers? That’s the overarching question Chevy Stevens’ new book, DARK ROADS (St. Martin’s Press, August 3) seeks to find.
Some roads deceive you | Some roads betray you | Some roads destroy you
COMING AUGUST 3, 2021
ABOUT DARK ROADS:
For decades people have been warned about the mysterious disappearances along the Cold Creek Highway. Hailey McBride decides to run to escape her unbearable circumstances, thinking her outdoor survival skills will save her. And then there are other girls, too. Amber and Beth, sisters, and one has been murdered on the infamous highway.
Readers are thrust into a lush, rugged landscape where everyone and everything seems treacherous.
DARK ROADS is about trauma, survival instincts, and so much more. Each of these characters are so nuanced, brave, complex, and struggling with the realities of male violence and women who are often victims. There is a great sense of suspended belief in this tale, and I found this moving and complex, tugging at the heartstrings, leaving me with a wide-open awe in Chevy’s ability to write such multifaceted and emotional stories.
Please join me in welcoming her back to the author interview series.
Chevy! It’s lovely to chat again. It’s been awhile…Can you talk about what you’ve been doing since your last book, NEVER LET YOU GO? And your struggles and surprises with DARK ROADS?
I wish I could say that the gap in time was because I was off enjoying myself in an exotic location, picking shells of the beach for hours with my daughter, or doing something noble like working at wild animal refuge and bottle-feeding babies (which I would love), but two of the years were spent working on books that I couldn’t get off the ground. I still have them saved on my computer and I like to tell myself that one day I will find a way to resurrect them. Once I did find the initial concept for Dark Roads, which began with the idea of a woman searching for her sister, and then morphed into something different, it took two more years to tell the story.
I love that DARK ROADS is partially set in the beautiful but intimidating Canadian wilderness. Can you talk a little about what inspired the locations in the book?
I have traveled through parts of British Columbia, but not as far north as this book takes place. A lot of the scenery is a conglomeration of my own memories and places I have seen. This book was influenced by the Highway of Tears, a real place in BC, with a tragic history, and though I have not personally been there, I am familiar with the terrain. Even where I live, on Vancouver Island, there are remote highways with dense forests, wild rivers, and areas where it is easy to get lost or hide. Much of BC is still very unpopulated. Cold Creek, the town I created in Dark Roads, resembles many small towns in BC and same with the lakeside campground. There are lots of provincial campgrounds that rarely have staff monitoring them or no staff at all. In the woods, especially at night, those campgrounds can have an eerie, untamed feeling to them.
One of the main characters, Hailey, runs away from the grip of her controlling police officer uncle, believing she can use the outdoor skills her father taught her to survive the harsh wilderness. Is outdoor survival a personal interest of yours?
I love being out in nature, but I wouldn’t say I am much of a survivalist. I absolutely enjoy my comforts! We used to have a travel trailer, but after we had our daughter, and now that we have two dogs, camping got more complicated and less relaxing. One of the dogs (Ziggy!) is an alarmist and thinks it is his duty to inform of us every tiny sound. Sometimes I think about getting a camper van in the future, but my days of wanting to sleep in a tent are definitely over.
My husband still enjoys “roughing it” and goes on fishing trips in all sorts of weather. He was a good resource for the book. People who hike, explore, or camp in extreme weather and wilderness are fascinating to me. I admire their bravery and the trust that they must place in themselves and their skills. I don’t like to be anywhere that doesn’t have cell service!
How I loved Wolf! Oh my gosh.Dogs are so amazing in so many ways. He serves a sort of guide, confidant, spirit almost. Was he based on your own dogs? I understand you spend a great deal of time hiking with them. Love that!
Neither of my dogs are very much like Wolf. One came from the local animal shelter and the other came from a private rescue. Ziggy is smart but also a bit of a scaredy cat so he would more likely run to me to save him. Oona loves chasing bunnies, but she would not enjoy riding around on a dirt bike. Neither of them like swimming so I don’t think they would be good at catching fish for me. In a fun twist, my neighbors got a border-collie puppy this spring and I get to enjoy him. In Dark Roads, I gave Wolf a mixed genetic background as it is common in small farming communities to find dogs that are crossed with border collies, and I know them to be highly intelligent. My dogs are getting older and one of them has had two knee replacements, so our days of long hikes are over, but we still go on regular walks together.
Shifting gears a bit, there’s a lovely epilogue that nearly brought me to my knees. How I found it so completely moving and visceral, magical, almost. Without giving anything away, can you talk about some of your literary influences, or how you wanted the ending to wrap up?
In early drafts, the book ended with Beth, but it didn’t have the right amount of emotional intensity I wanted. When I found the narrator’s voice for my prologue, which took a while, I knew she would also narrate my ending. The actual writing of the final scene came quickly and was raw and profound for me. I fussed over language and word choices through each revision, but the essence of that chapter never changed. It felt very real to me, so hopefully it will also feel that way to my readers. I did enjoy writing in that style, a dreamy otherworldliness, so maybe one day I will try to write a book in that style throughout. It was freeing in many ways.
“Chevy Stevens is back and better than ever with a grisly tale that will make you think twice before driving down any deserted highways at night. DARK ROADS is a chilling, pulse-pounding thriller that also tugs at the heartstrings. It’s everything you’ve come to love from a master of the psych thriller genre!”
-Mary Kubica, NYT bestselling author of THE OTHER MRS.
Before we go, Beth was sort of obsessed with discovering her sister’s killer, what’s obsessing you nowadays? It doesn’t have to be literary.
I love mid-century modern and the Palm Springs Vibe, anything that gives me a nostalgic feeling. At the moment I am setting my current book in the late seventies because it worked better for the plot if I removed today’s technology, and it gave me a new interesting challenge. When I am not writing, I like listening to podcasts, reading romances, and doing puzzles.
For more information, to connect with Chevy Stevens, or to purchase a copy of DARK ROADS, please visit:
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You Might Like:
I found some similarities between the work of Rene Denfeld, especially regarding the survivalist and natural world, as well as FOX AND I: An Uncommon Friendship (memoir), with thematic touches of David Bell’s new release, KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, also Hanna Halperin’s SOMETHING WILD.
Browse all books featured on Always with a Book since 2018 on Bookshop.org
Next week, Joyce Maynard talks about her new novel, COUNT THE WAYS.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
CHEVY STEVENS lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t working on her next book, she’s hiking with her two dogs on her favorite mountain trails and spending time with her family. Chevy’s current obsessions are vintage Airstreams, Hollywood memoirs, all things mid-century modern, and stand-up comedians–not necessarily in that order. Her books, including Still Missing, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel, have been published in more than thirty countries.
ABOUT YOUR HOST:
Leslie Lindsay is the creator and host of the award-winning author interview series,“Always with a Book.” Since 2013, Leslie, named “one of the most influential book reviewers” by Jane Friedman, ranks in the top 1% of all GoodReads reviewers and has conducted over 700 warm, inquisitive conversations with authors as wide-ranging as Robert Kolker and Shari Lapena to Helen Phillips and Mary Beth Keane, making her website a go-to for book lovers world-wide. Her writing & photography have appeared in various print journals and online.
She is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, soon to become an audiobook from Penguin Random House. A former psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic, Leslie’s memoir, MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness, & Memory, is currently on submission with Catalyst Literary Management. Leslie resides in the Chicago area with her family.
Learn more about Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book
Next Week: Joyce Maynard talks about her most ambitious novel to date, families, dysfunction, and a gorgeous New England farm.
Cover and author image courtesy of St. Martin’s Press and used with permission. Artistic images of book cover(s) designed and photographed by L.Lindsay, @leslielindsay1. Let’s connect on Instagram!