We’re welcoming Chautona Havig to Diversity Between the Pages today to talk about her latest release, Will Not See. This is the second book in Chautona’s Sight Unseen series, and it is best to read this series in order. You can learn more about the first book in the series, None So Blind, here. You can also read my review of Will Not See at Fiction Aficionado.
~ About the Author ~
Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.
~ About the Book ~
When Vikki Jeffries wakes up in a Rockland hotel with no idea of who she is and why she can’t remember… well, anything, the Rockland medical community begins to take a closer look at what may have happened to cause a second case of inexplicable amnesia.
But for Vikki, this is more than a medical anomaly–it’s her life. What is she doing in Rockland, thousands of miles away from her home in Apache Junction, Arizona? Who is she? Why is no one looking for her? Or are they?
The secrets of a past she’s discovering she doesn’t want to know lay locked away in a memory that refuses to acknowledge their existence.
When Brandon Marana finds his neighbor struggling to open her front door, his quiet life becomes a race to protect Vikki and himself from people who are determined to find her.
He’s falling in love with her–but he shouldn’t. He’s a Christian. She’s not. But the more she depends on him to know who she is and learn why these things keep happening to her, the stronger those ties become.
Will Not See: Sometimes, the past needs to stay there.
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Release date: 29 August 2017
Publisher: Wynneword House
~ Interview ~
KATIE: Thanks for joining us at Diversity Between the Pages today, Chautona. Let’s start off by taking a little ‘flight of fancy’. Finish these sentences for me:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
Well, since I’m dying to write this cool book idea I have for an American who marries a Greek man and moves to a small Greek village with no knowledge of the language or customs, I’d definitely say that one.
Lol! Make sure you pack me in your suitcase. I have a feeling that would be a memorable trip!
If I could assign one household task to the fairies forever, it would be…
This is so easy it isn’t even funny. Grocery shopping. I hate all forms of shopping, but I loathe, despise, and abominate grocery shopping. I’ve been working on trying to like it for almost twenty years now—ever since I heard a preacher say that if we MUST do something, we might as well learn to like it.
My seven-year-old LOVES doing the grocery shopping. Go figure! Maybe he’ll change his mind when he’s the one paying for it!
If I was a musical instrument, I would be a…
I’d say if I were an instrument, I’d definitely be a cello. Besides being rather shaped like me (although I have a much shorter neck), as I’ve gotten older, my singing voice has deepened. It also has a lot of volume. Even when you play a cello quietly, it doesn’t whisper—ever. Yep. I’m definitely a cello.
Oh my goodness! I think you might be my clone!
When I was a child, I wanted to be a…
I had it all planned out. I’d own a yellow house with a white picket fence and a huge oak tree in the front yard. I planned to have a collie, and I wanted it to have a genius name like “Inkling” or something. I would teach high school English for 9 months of the year and write over my full three months of summer break (stop laughing. Even with teachers in my family whom I helped get ready for their classes every year… over summer), I existed in a dream world.
Then, in my spare time (again, stop laughing!) I’d edit during the school year. This way I’d be able to write one book per year. I had chosen to eschew husband and children, not being interested in having those horrible creatures, you see. Okay, there you can laugh. After all, I’m pretty sure God got the last one on that idea. His plans were FAR different (not to mention superior) than mine. Nine kids and a husband later, I write four to six books a year. Snort.
Bahahahaha! I had similarly idealistic dreams when I was growing up. Something about being a concert pianist, a lawyer, AND having ten children! 😂
My ideal place to read would be…
A “window seat hammock.” I want one so bad it isn’t funny. Perfect window seat area… nice bay window perhaps… and then a hammock hanging. Sun shining on my feet. Balmy breezes flowing in. Huge stack of books… Oh, wait. What did you say?
Who, me? I have no idea. Would you mind passing me one of those books while I make myself comfortable? 😉
Let’s discuss your Sight Unseen series now, and more specifically, Will Not See. Each book in this series tells the story of someone who wakes up with no memory of who they are or of their life up to that point. What inspired you to make that the basis of a series?
Well, I tend to be a bit of a rebel, so part of it did have to do with wanting to do something different with a trope. So instead of someone waking up after a car accident and having to work his or her way back from a blank slate (or doing a “Remember Sunday/50 First Dates” kind of thing), I wanted it traumatic-less. Inexplicable. And then what would you do with a clean slate when you knew you’d probably never get those memories back again?
You? A rebel? 😉 But I can see why the idea intrigued you.
Memory loss always seems like a tricky element to introduce to a story in my mind, from a point of view of making it realistic and consistent. How does memory loss affect Vikki in the book, and what kind of research did you have to do to make it believable?
Vikki’s memory loss was harder than Ella’s (from the first book). Ella had family to fill in her past and help her with things. It also annoyed her because she wanted to be seen for who she’d decided to be rather than who she had been (she didn’t really like her former self when she figured out some things). But Vikki has a completely different personality. I really had to struggle to find people like her and study them—people who wouldn’t want to know the horrors of their pasts.
And what I discovered is that even those people would still want to know THEM. Many I talked to were very connected to their own identities despite agreeing that if there were situations in the past that I’d created for Vikki, they wouldn’t want those details. The only way I could make it believable was simply to ask.
My mind boggles at the thought of what it would feel like to be in Vikki’s position. It was one of the reasons I found the story so compelling!
Learning Vikki’s ethnic background is a little tricky, given she doesn’t know it herself! Could tell us a little bit about that background, and why it’s difficult for her to discover that background after she loses her memory?
She’ll learn a bit more in book three (if there is a natural place to share it). I know that she was removed from her mother at a very young age and placed into foster care. I chose not to give her a permanent placement because she needed a logical reason to become who she was. My personal knowledge of people of color isn’t ethnically or culturally much different from me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m on the west coast or if it’s because I’ve always lived in rather diverse places where most people become rather homogenous. So that’s mostly why I put her in Apache Junction. I didn’t see it as too implausible that, once on the streets, she might have been recruited by another runaway and then induced into one of the Hispanic dominated gangs.
So, she has a bit of street slang she has picked up, but since she spent time in the home of an educated family, her speech slips in and out of “street” from time to time.
Okay, so let’s think about this for a moment. You have an ethnically diverse character who’s not exactly sure of her heritage, and you need to write her in a way that avoids clichés and stereotypes. How exactly do you go about doing that?
Well, as I said above, my best choice was to put her in places that could “homogenize” her a bit so she didn’t turn into a TV cliché. I was so worried about that. For example, the blacks I know personally (I chose that word for a reason), have said they don’t care to be called “African-American.” In the words of one man, “I’ve never been to Africa… you’ve never been to Scotland. Why should you get to be ‘just American’ but I have to be defined by the location of ancestors that go way back?”
I think he makes a valid point. So, I moved her in and out of enough homes that she identified as a part of whatever group she was in rather than a specific culture or race. If I’d tried to write someone from the deep South, for example, I’d have under represented her or made her a horrible stereotype. I really wanted to avoid that.
Whenever I started doubting myself, I actually thought of that man’s daughters and tried to imagine how they’d respond in the situation. It helped. A little.
I, too, know people who prefer to be referred to as black rather than African-American. In any case, I think you did a great job with Vikki. She really is her own person!
What inspired Vikki’s character? Was there a reason you made her an ethnically diverse character, or was that just an organic part of the character who presented herself to you?
I fought the ethnicity for a bit, if you want the truth. I knew she’d be harder to write than another character I have in the works. I knew it would be crazy easy to get her wrong, but she demanded to have a voice. She reminded me that I have friends of all colors, shapes, sizes, and intellects. I needed to embrace her for who she was. I’d never reject someone I met in the store, at a restaurant, or in church based on her color, so why would I do it in a book?
Good point. And it sounds exactly like something Vikki would say!
What do you hope readers take away from this series? (Besides the enjoyment of a riveting read, of course!)
If I can only show one thing through this series, it will be that we often hide from the truths of ourselves because of what we see there. Well, Jesus’ blood has washed that ugliness away. It’s gone. Isaiah tells us, and Hebrews reminds us that God won’t remember our sins anymore. We need to let the blood of Christ be sufficient. But being blind to them rather than repenting of them doesn’t do us any good. Like any problem, we have to face them. Lay them at the feet of the cross. Step back. Revel in the beautiful work Jesus did there. But we can’t do that if we refuse to acknowledge and repent of them.
This series really does explore that in a fascinating way. Thanks for chatting to us today, Chautona!
~ Sight Unseen Series ~
Interview by Katie Donovan.