YA author Alexis Marie Chute talks Book Two in the 8th Island Trilogy

The 8th Island Trilogy Adventure Continues with Below the Moon by author Alexis Marie Chute. In the book, Ella Wellsley is not your typical teenager. Cancer left her mute, but not powerless. Trapped in a parallel dimension, Ella rallies her strength to join her family—her mother, Tessa, her grandpa Archie, and her magical boyfriend, Luggie—in locating the cure to her illness. This cure is entangled in the fate of all worlds, and threatened by the presence of an evil Star anchored in the sea. The Star has thrown life everywhere into chaos—and it is Ella who holds the key to unlocking its mystery.

Caught in a web of betrayal, mistaken identities, secrets, and love triangles, Ella, Tessa, and Archie must overcome their troubled pasts to ensure a future for all worlds. On this journey—armed with unearthly abilities and unexpected allies—each member of the Wellsley family will learn the power of love in the face of their greatest fears. YEM spoke with Alexis Marie Chute about what readers can expect from Below the Moon.

Young Entertainment Mag: How did you first get involved in writing?

Alexis Marie Chute: I have been telling stories from as far back as I can remember, right from when I learned to talk. When I think back, I was writing stories even in my early elementary school days. There was one time I thought I invented the name of a town in a story, and it turned out to be a real place—I was shocked. I’ve always been an avid reader and have had a lot to say, hence penning my own stories.

YEM: Where did the idea for this book come from?

Alexis: The 8th Island Trilogy began as a novel I wrote where the odds were stacked against a broken family—how I felt about my own life at that time. My son Zachary had died and I was learning how to live again. Not sure if I was as strong as I needed to be. 

Without fail, I am a cheerleader for the underdog and wanted to create a mythology and new worlds where even the broken can thrive, survive, and inspire us all with their bravery. I have fallen in love with the characters in the three books—Ella, Tessa, and Archie, and all their interesting supporting characters too. The characters’ personalities begin to blossom in Above the Star (book one), and their struggles amplify in Below the Moon (book two), and everything crashes together in Inside the Sun (book three). It is truly a wonderful evolution of not only the connected worlds. But of the main characters and their interconnected lives. 

YEM: This is part two of the book series. Does it pick up where the first book left off? Will the series continue to a third book?

Alexis: Below the Moon (book two) picks up right where Above the Star (book one) leaves off. I’d recommend readers re-read Above the Star so they remember what’s going on. I’ve also heard that the “Glossary of Characters, Creatures, Plants, and Places” at the back of the book is helpful for understanding and enjoying the fantasy worlds in the trilogy.    

YEM: The main character, Ella Wellsley, has quite an interesting life. For one, she is mute. Was it challenging to write a character that can’t speak?

Alexis: Ella’s chapters are written in her internal monologue since she can’t speak. They are so fun and insightful. I relate to Ella in that way. I grew up with depression and social anxiety, though no one was talking about it openly back then. Being a creative person, and very curious and inquisitive—and not always understood—I had my own monologue running 24/7 in my head. For this reason, I find Ella’s chapters refreshing and personal. I hope others do too. Many of us can speak, but still we feel misunderstood and alone, like Ella. I hope to show readers that they are most certainly in good company and that introverts, outcasts, the bullied, and the uncool can be the heroes—and not only in fiction!    

YEM: Was Ella inspired by anyone you know? Does she have any of your own qualities in her?

Alexis: Ella is inspired by both my daughter, Hannah, and myself, as mixed up as that sounds. In many ways, I feel like a teenager myself, so I relate to Ella a great deal. She is sarcastic, witty, critical, and wounded by others—a pain greater than the cancer she grapples with. YET she is also creative, funny, loving, brave, and kind. She is all the best things of us that we can forget as we grow up. I see this potential in Hannah, and also how she is frustrated with certain things. I love Ella. She is the best friend I wish I had as I went through school and an unlikely hero. Wise beyond her years, Ella inspires me to be brave in my own life.   

YEM: Finally, Ella is trapped in a parallel universe. If you could be trapped in any universe, what would it be any why?

Alexis: I’ve watched too many movies and read too many books to narrow down the kind of world I’d want to be trapped in. It would have to be a place of magic and wonder. A world where nature is a force and life is reduced to our more primary selves. I’d hope for no evil monsters, but how do we know utopia without the darker side of life?

Stay tuned to YEM for info on Alexis Marie Chute’s YA Author Twitter Takeover this week!