Welcome to my first Saturday Sit Down post. For a while I’ve wanted to do more to support my fellow writers in their publishing quests. Charissa Stastny has graciously volunteered to be my first
victim guinea pig guest in this occasional series. Charissa’s second book, Secret Keepers, is now available in both paper and electronic formats. Please make yourselves comfortable and join me in welcoming Charissa to the blog.
Hi, Charissa, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview.
Thanks for having me, JM. I’ve been working out so I can do a good job spinning the guinea pig/author wheel for you without passing out.
That might be a new interview twist—working out while we chat. I wonder if Oprah or Ellen ever tried that. I’m not sure I’m that coordinated, though! For starters, what would you like readers to know about you?
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada…but have never gambled and can’t shuffle cards to save my life. I love writing, reading, hiking, and can make a mean monkey imitation (although when I tried it out at the zoo, one of the monkeys spit at me). I currently live in Idaho, where I don’t have to be embarrassed by my poor card shuffling skills.
Hmm, maybe that monkey was upset that a human is on to them! Secret Keepers is the sequel to your first book, Eyes of Light. Some folks in the audience may not be familiar with the story line. Could you tell us a bit about it and the inspiration behind it?
This series is clean romance with lots of suspense, action, and emotional turmoil. From Hispanic drug capos in Guatemala to Mormon missionaries, this story takes opposites to extremes. Suvi Goldstein tries to escape her past, but falls for a man with secrets as deadly as her own. Torn between violent men in one world and a forgiving man in another, Suvi must fight her way out of darkness to find redemption.
Each book switches between 3 characters’ point of views. Suvi is a troubled girl who has endured lots of abusive relationships. She meets James Hinton, a clean-cut, returned missionary, and begins her emotional healing. Austan is an ex-NCS operative who Suvi believes died when she was in high school. He has gone under deep cover, but still secretly watches over and protects her from forces bent on her destruction.
My inspiration for this story started with a door-to-door salesperson. An Israeli girl named Suvi knocked, charmed me into buying one of her oil paintings, and then talked to me and my daughters for an hour. She was vivacious, and a story started to form around her after she left. As I wrote my imagined story for Suvi, I wanted to help my own daughters be aware of hidden secrets people carry and be more merciful in their judgment of others. We never know what awful circumstances and experiences have led someone to act in certain ways.
Inspiration can strike in the least expected places, can’t it? And what a great message for a story to convey. Did your characters surprise you in any way when you began writing Secret Keepers?
Yes, my character James ended up being a little wishy-washy and wimpy in the first draft of this book. He really bugged me, so I used my writing skills in the revising mode to throw a few trials his way to torture him and make him get tougher. I was pleased with him in the end.
Ooh, there’s a good tip for the writers in the audience—if your characters are giving you a hard time with the story, make their lives even more difficult! But this is Saturday, and we’ll take it easy on ourselves and our readers. So let’s toss out a few fun questions. If you could revisit one day in your life, which would it be? My characters don’t allow anyone to change the past, so I’m afraid you can only be an observer.
In 2009, I spent a week with my grandma taking care of her. I would revisit any of those days and just drink in her smile and laughter.
That sounds like a wonderful day to experience again. Despite my characters, I’d love the chance to sit down with my grandmothers and get them telling their stories. If you could have lunch with any character from any book (other than your own), who would it be, where would you eat, and what would you discuss?
I would dine with Dumbledore from Harry Potter. We’d eat sushi at Sakana’s (my favorite eating joint) and talk about anything he liked. Seriously, I can’t even think of a good enough question to ask the most powerful wizard ever. If he wanted to discuss Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans…then so be it.
Should I admit that I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books? Oops, I think I just did…. Um, moving on…. On that same eating theme, if you could have dinner with one author from any time, who would you choose, where would you dine, and what would you ask him?
You know me well. I love eating. C.S. Lewis would be my pick of authors. I think I’d pick the Cheesecake Factory and ask to be seated in a fancy booth. I don’t think I’d ask him anything (except what his favorite cheesecake was)…I’d just listen to whatever he said and be in heaven.
Here’s another confession—the food questions were written while I had a case of the mid-afternoon munchies. Eating was definitely on my mind! And C.S. Lewis sounds like a great dinner companion. If you were to be stranded on a deserted tropical island with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?
Since I can’t build a fire or catch fish, and am wimpy, I’d need someone who could be responsible and take care of me. In my mind, that would be James Hinton. He’s very handy, self-reliant, kind, creative, and a woman’s dream.
Survival skills and attractive? He sounds like the perfect choice!
And there’s more, folks! You have two chances to win a copy of either Eyes of Light or Secret Keepers. Char’s running a rafflecopter giveaway, and the deadline for entering is tonight. However, she’ll also give away an e-version of your choice to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment on this post by the end of day on Wednesday (February 27th), Eastern US Standard Time.
There you have it—my first blog interview. I had a great time with it, and I’d like to thank Charissa for making it a success. If you haven’t yet visited her blog, Joy in the Moments, you can find it here. She also has a website here. And you can find Secret Keepers at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and remember to leave a comment below for your chance to win!