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The Sirens of Suspense

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still lives on the island with her husband and daughter. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her family in the local mountains. Her debut novel, New York Times bestseller Still Missing, won the international Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.

 

 

Find Chevy on Facebook and Twitter.

http://chevystevens.com

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item1 MY LOVE OF NESTS item1
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I love making nests. Not the kind for birds, but a hide-away for myself. When I was young, and things got tough with our family—a frequent occurrence—I would take some books, one of our cats or a dog, and find a tree to hide under in the woods, my back pressed against the rough bark. When I got a little older, this graduated into hiding away and attempting to smoke my father’s cigarettes that he’d brought back from Japan, or occasionally trying to smoke moss rolled up in paper—that didn’t work well. No matter what the problem, I felt safe out in the woods as long as I had books and an animal with me.

I also used to sneak out into our tractor shed where we had stored belongings after we moved back to our ranch from Ottawa (my father had been transferred while he was with the Navy). This shed was an endlessly fascinating place, with boxes of childhood toys, clothes, books, all stacked on top of farming equipment, antique desks and wood shelves, metal chests. I’d spend hours reading my mom’s Harlequin romances, perched uncomfortably amongst the boxes, everything smelling of damp and must, but I didn’t care. I still remember the day I found my old copy of Velveteen Rabbit in that shed, how thrilled I was. My mom also still tells me about the time I scared her by hiding and she eventually found me under this shed. I have no idea what I was doing, but I imagine I felt very safe there.

When I got older, I traveled on the island for my work and my hotel rooms became my nest. As long as I had my tea, some books, a TV, and my dog, I could make myself a home wherever I was. Many years later when my dog, Annie, became sick and had to have surgery, my husband blew up an air mattress for me and Annie. I finished my final edits for Still Missing on that mattress. Even when Annie was better, I was still enjoying my nest. I had the TV, my laptop, and my dog. My husband was welcome to join us in our “nest” but he was less enamored with sleeping on the floor and gently urged me that he would like to use the living room again— it was time for me to move back upstairs. But I delayed until one day I came home and he’d put everything back into place. He was right, it was time, but I missed my nest.

The day Never Knowing was published I spent most of the day in the vet clinic while Annie got a blood transfusion that we hoped would buy her some time. I had my laptop, my phone, Annie’s blanket, and her favorite stuffed monkey (which I still have). It was also the day I was supposed to be flying to New York because Still Missing had been nominated for an award, but all those thoughts were far from my mind. Annie and I hung out together for hours, blood dripping into her IV. She slept with her head on my lap, and I watched people pass by, only seeing their legs or their dog’s legs, through the bottom part of the outside glass door. We were in our own little world, fighting our own private battle.

Annie passed away that evening in my arms and the couch became my new nest. The coffee table heaped with wadded Kleenex, empty M&M bags, all the treats my husband was bringing me to try to quell my grief, and stacks of movies that I watched morning to night, huddled in a blanket, numb with grief.

When our daughter was born a year and a half later, our bed became our nest as she slept between us, a tiny, snuffling, squeaking, wailing bundle, and our new dog, Oona, would usually pile in as well. The night table was stacked with nursing pads, Tylenol, cough drops, books, iPhones, glasses full of water ( I was always thirsty) diapers, diaper creams, receiving blankets. We lived like that for weeks, months, until we moved her to a bed beside us, and then into her own room. It was nice to have our room back, but I still treasure those memories of our early days, the exhausted haze of being new parents.

Now I love the times when we are camping in our travel trailer, huddled around our little table, talking, playing games, or on the bed, watching movies together, snuggled up in the blanket, our legs and feet and shoulders touching, bags of snacks nearby. Sometimes my gaze drifts to one of the windows, the trees outside, the sky. The view may change, but our nest stays the same no matter where we park.

I’m writing this in the trailer now, which has turned into my outdoor office. I have my laptop, stacks of books, my tea kettle, my phone, and Oona sleeping on the seat beside me. When I look out the back window, I can see our wisteria in full bloom, and all the trees with their new spring growth. I’m close enough to the house that I can hear Piper talking to her daddy, can see my husband working in the backyard. I often look up with a smile, everything I love nearby. I’ve learned now that although I still need these quiet moments, where I’m tucked away, my favorite nest is the one we have built together.

 

 

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE (WRITING OR READING) NEST? Tell us by commenting on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a a copy of THAT NIGHT (U.S. entrants only, please.)

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