Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interview: Harvey Chute

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Harvey Chute. Harvey is the founder of the web's largest independent Kindle user forum,, which is popular with both readers and authors. It is, in
fact, a forum that has been a library, a directory, a brainstorming oasis, and sanctuary for me as I embarked and continue on my journey as an author and publisher. But we are not here to talk about this invaluable resource that Harvey has created. Today, we celebrate yet another achievement in Harvey's illustrious career as he publishes his first work of fiction–Stone and Silt, a young adult historical mystery. 

Harvey, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to interview you. First of all, can you tell us what inspired you to write a novel? Is this something you have always wanted to do? Were you influenced by the KB forum?

Thank you so much for having me! It’s an honor for me as a new author to talk with someone like you, who has written such an extraordinary collection of successful books.

I have always loved writing and, in fact, drafted the first scene of Stone and Silt over twenty years ago. It’s where Nikaia’s native Indian mother gives her a lesson in perseverance over adversity. Over the years, I would occasionally pull out that chapter and revise it in longhand – just doing it for the pleasure of writing.

Then, last year, I decided to get serious about writing a full-length historical novel. It was a long-held dream for me, and I was definitely motivated by the authors who participate in the KBoards forum. I was also inspired by my three daughters, all of whom read passionately. I wanted to write a story they could identify with. My younger (twin) daughters are the same age as the book’s lead character, Nikaia.

Pitch your novel to the average high school Twilight and Hunger Games fan in less than 30 words.

A half-native girl in the 1860s accidentally causes her father to be suspected of murder. With the help of a neighbor boy, she races to find the killer.

Which contemporary books would you liken Stone and Silt to? If you loved x, you will enjoy Stone and Silt.

One of my beta readers said that Stone and Silt was a mixture of Agatha Christie and Laura Ingalls Wilder. That’s a huge compliment.

If you like cozy mysteries like Sue Grafton’s “Alphabet Mysteries” and historical fiction like P.B. Ryan’s “Nell Sweeney” series, you’ll likely enjoy Stone and Silt. And the novel has a coming-of-age element to it that should appeal to readers of YA.

This book is written from the POV of a sixteen-year-old girl. How did you tap into her mindset?

It helped me to think of the girls and women I’ve been close to: my wife, my mother, my sisters, and my daughters. Each of them in their own way has deep character and strong will, and I tried to picture Nikaia’s thoughts and decisions through their eyes. Nikaia’s voice – as well as her compassion and determination - was influenced by the impressions left on me by the strong females in my life.

I was also helped immensely by my content editor, Michelle. She helped breathe life into Nikaia’s character and kept me from straying from her point of view. Because of that, the novel reads as though you’re witnessing the story from right behind Nikaia’s shoulder.

Your book starts of with a scene that would be categorized as bullying now. Do you feel that the anti-bullying measures schools have now put in place helps curb those scenes from taking place?

Yes, I do. With two daughters in high school, I appreciate the efforts that schools and communities are
putting towards preventing bullying. Students, parents, and teachers talk openly about it now, and I think students are more likely to speak out against bullying when they see it. It’s unacceptable, and everyone knows it, but it still occurs, and it takes courage to stand up against it.

The writer part of the KB forum is very indie-author oriented. However, you chose to publish through an independent publisher rather than self publishing. Many KB authors would question the wisdom of that decision.  Can you tell us what factored into you making that choice?

The indie publishing revolution is an amazing transformation for writers. It’s exciting to see the journey of the many authors who pursue that route.

With this being my first novel, there were certain things I felt were important. I wanted to have my story professionally edited, proofed, and formatted. I wanted an expertly-designed cover, and some assistance in publicizing the book.

I could have paid for those services, but thought I’d try submitting my manuscript to publishers first. Thankfully, it was accepted by a good publisher, and as a result those services are provided for me.

The indie-vs-publisher decision comes down to personal choices about things like money, control, and marketing. In working with a small publisher, I feel very involved in the production of my book, and it feels like it has been the best of both worlds for me.

Did you consider submitting your novel to the big six? Or to Amazon?

No, from the start I wanted to go with Red Adept Publishing, based on what I’d heard from other authors about them. If they had not accepted my manuscript, I probably would have shopped it around to other publishing houses.

Does being the founder of KB open up any doors for you that are perhaps closed to other new authors? If so, have you taken advantage of any special opportunities?

KBoards has been a wonderful experience for me, and my involvement in it did lead to my being approached by Wiley Inc. to help write their series of Kindle For Dummies books. My experience as co-author for five Dummies books was a great introduction to all the effort that goes into a published book.

For Stone and Silt, I’ve felt a high level of interest from KBoards members. They are generous with their support and encouragement for the book. That being said, we have well-established rules in the forum about book promotion--and unfortunately I’m not exempt from that! So for the most part I’m on even ground with the other authors on KBoards.

The biggest challenge for an author is marketing. It is one of the main reasons to aspire to be signed by one of the big six or by Amazon. Neither indie authors nor publishers have access to the same marketing power. Do you have a marketing plan in place or is this something you leave for your publishers to put in place?

Getting the word out about a book is definitely a challenge. My publisher has the lead on marketing the book, but it is very much a collaborative effort. I have an author blog that is a fun way for me to connect with readers. I’m participating in a blog tour this month that will have about twenty stops with book bloggers. And I’ll continue to reach out to bloggers and book reviewers after the blog tour ends in September.

I’ve also been asked to speak about the book at high schools, libraries, and museums, particularly in British Columbia where the story is based. It takes work to market the book, but I’m thoroughly enjoying that part of the book-writing experience.

What will Harvey do next?

I’m outlining a follow-up novel that involves many of the same characters in Stone and Silt. It’ll be another stand-alone mystery taking place in the pioneer days of British Columbia. After that, I want to write a contemporary mystery. And of course, I’ll be keeping up with the growth and activity of KBoards.

Thank you very much for talking with me today.

Check out Harvey's new book!

Book Page on RAP:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


kboards said...

Thank you, Imogen! That was fun!

Vicki said...

Congratulations, Harvey. Wishing you much success.

Great interview, Imogen.

kboards said...

Thanks, Vicki!

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