Today’s Feature: Writer, Author, Mama, Friend – Charissa (Char) Stastny. Char just released the third book in her series, Bending Willow Trilogy. I’m reading the first book right now and am thoroughly enjoying the characters and plot twists (Team Suvi!)
Today’s Challenge: Grab your favorite chair and sip on a toasty beverage while you read Char’s bio, her interview, and snippets from the books. We’ll have a great time getting to know a little bit more about the series as well as our friend.
Special thanks to Char who did all of the work to bring this to you today.
Charissa Stastny hails from Las Vegas, Nevada, but has never pulled the handle of a slot machine and can’t shuffle cards to save her life. Since 4th grade, she has envisioned herself an author after writing the creative work, The Creature from McGool, and continuing in shame to pen some cheesy romance scenes as a teenager. Thankfully, she has matured somewhat and is a member of the Idaho Writer’s Guild and tries hard not to spread too much cheese around in her writing now. She graduated from Brigham Young University and enjoys writing, reading, hiking and biking. She resides in Idaho’s Treasure Valley with her husband and children (where card shuffling isn’t required).
Who is Charissa Stastny? Let’s find out!
- Most writers are readers. What are some of your favorite books?
I love The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, any of the Harry Potter books, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and anything by C.S. Lewis. Contemporary romance authors I can’t get enough of are Amy Harmon and Taylor Dean. I can reread their stories over and over and not tire of them.
- How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Quite a lot. There is always one character I identify with—usually the shy, awkward one with a good heart who doesn’t know how to accessorize. My cool characters are my dreams of how I wish I could be. It’s fun as a writer to live vicariously through our characters.
- Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I are high school sweethearts and married after his mission. We have four children—3 daughters (one married, one serving a mission in Korea, and one still in high school) and one son (in high school). We love being together and our favorite activities include biking, hiking, camping, and going to Disneyland.
- What does your family think about your writing?
They probably think I’m crazy to sit and play with imaginary characters all day. And I am! They’re actually very supportive. My second daughter laughed hysterically when she read my first draft of Eyes of Light. She highlighted sections and wrote: “Cheesy! Please Mom, don’t ever publish this. I will be embarrassed for you!” My husband also gave me useful advice: “Before you publish any of your stories, you might want to do a search for the word ZOMBIE.” Their tips saved me. Also, my oldest daughter designed my covers and keeps me looking presentable.
- Where did you get your inspiration for these books?
My muse started with a door-to-door salesperson. An Israeli girl named Suvi with a nose ring and a vivacious personality knocked, charmed me into buying one of her oil paintings, and then talked to my daughters and me for an hour. After she left, a story started to form around her in my mind. As I wrote my imagined story for Suvi, I wanted to help my own daughters be aware of hidden secrets people carry so that they would be more merciful in their judgment of others. We never know what awful circumstances and experiences have led someone to act in certain ways.
- Did you put real experiences in these books?
In Eyes of Light, the missionary scenes are almost all taken from real-life experiences my brother had while serving in Guatemala. I found his letters captivating and used them to form my character James. In Secret Keepers, there are several scenes—like the Garden tomb and Wailing Wall—I described from being in Israel as a college student. I also stayed on a kibbutz in the Galilee and based Suvi’s experiences there on mine.
I find that little bits and pieces of real life creep into my writing whether I want them to or not. My sisters always tease me by saying things like, “Ha! James rides his bike like your husband.” or “Suvi bites her nails like you.” Sometimes those references happen on purpose, but usually not.
- Why should we read your books?
Two reasons: 1) Because I went to a lot of trouble to delete all the ‘zombie’ and ‘brain-eating’ references from it, and 2) The characters are amazing! You will fall in love with Suvi, Austan, and James.
Bending Willow Trilogy
A cast of three very different heroes come together in this trilogy. Austan Sandoval is the master of disguise and deception. James Hinton is a clean-cut missionary out to save the world. Suvi Goldstein seems like she has it all, yet secrets bind her to misery. This series follows these characters through several harrowing years, showing how the transforming power of God holds out hope to all—from the missionary who’s led a charmed life to the vilest of sinners.
Eyes of Light (Vol. 1) – After swindling millions from a Central American drug cartel, Austan stumbles upon the location of the daughter of an Israeli Mossad assassin and determines to recruit her to his team. James serves the Lord as a missionary in Guatemala and sacrifices all to bring truth to those he meets. When Suvi tries to escape her past, she’s torn between violent men in one world and a kind, forgiving man in another as she battles darkness to discover the light within herself.
Secret Keepers (Vol. 2) – Suvi feels unworthy of her happily-ever-after, especially when her knight in shining armor becomes the target of evil men due to her dark past. James believes he has won the heart of the woman he loves, but when she leaves him and exposes sinister secrets, his love may not survive. Austan stands guard against the Dragon’s wrath, but nurses hope that he can reveal his true identity. When a chance arises to team up with a pair of Israeli Mossad operatives, he may finally be in a position to do what he has wanted for four long years—reunite with Suvi and rekindle their love.
Hands of Mercy (Vol. 3) – Released 1.26.15 – In the finale to the Bending Willow Trilogy, love, loss, and forgiveness weave a tapestry that will touch hearts as James, Suvi, and Austan are tried by separation, death, grief and revenge. As they struggle to survive, they will discover that when all seems lost, the only hope comes from unseen Hands of Mercy.
Thank you, Char, for being here today and sharing more of you and your stories. You can find additional details and a fantastic giveaway on her author and blog pages. Click here for quick access. You can also find Char and her books in these great spaces: