The first time I met Author Charissa Stastny, she emailed me to tell me how much she loved Lancaster House.
We've been author friends ever since!
I went on to read her books and she went on to read more of mine.
Charissa has written a three-book series.
In celebration of the third book's release yesterday, I'm sharing a three part series of posts to introduce you to each of her books.
The 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.
Today I'm sharing the first book in the Bending Willow Trilogy,
EYES OF LIGHT.
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.
I really enjoyed this book. Two things stand out to me: One, I really wasn't exactly sure who Suvi was going to end up with, and that kept me turning the pages. Two, this book contains a beautiful message. The ending scene brought tears to my eyes. The message is simply this: no matter what you've experienced due to your circumstances in life or whatever you've done in your life, you are still precious in the eyes of God. The author brings this message to the reader rather eloquently. I finished this book and immediately started on the sequel. I'm looking forward to continuing Suvi's story.
Meet the Author: Charissa Stastny
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).
THE BOOK TRAILER
Q and A
Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
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.
My little brother was my inspiration for my James character. He served a mission in Guatemala and I used his letters he wrote home to cast Elder Hinton. I tease my brother that James Hinton is him…only cool!
Did you put real experiences in this book?
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.
Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
After my husband read my first book, he commented, “It would have been better with a zombie in it.” Since then, the Search and Find feature on Word has become my best friend. I always use it before I send out drafts to readers, because unfortunately, my husband is skilled at sneaking zombies into files. There is nothing worse than when the masculine hunk in my story tells the girl of his dreams that ‘he wants to eat her brains.’ Ugh!
Too funny, Charissa! Thanks for sharing!
Next up: The second book in the Bending Willow Trilogy, Secret Keepers, will make an appearance here on Thursday, January 29th.
Don't miss it!
(ends March 1st)
Comment on post or sign up for Charissa's newsletter, here.
Up for grabs:
13 lucky winners! (1 each-$20, $15, $10 Amazon Gift cards; 10 eBook winners)
Thanks, Taylor! You are seriously the BEST!ReplyDelete
You are most welcome, Charissa! I wish you great success! The new covers are beautiful. I've just started Hands of Mercy and I'm nervous about where this is all heading, especially after the opening scene!Delete
I signed up for Charissa's newsletter. Her books sound really good. I added them to my Amazon wish list until I get a gift card.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for sharing this with us all Taylor. You really are the BEST!!! :)
I think you'd enjoy her books, Linda. They include romance, action, and adventure. They have it all!Delete
Charissa is a great writer and a great social media bud. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, and I especially found it interesting to learn more about the Mormon missionary experience as well as getting a bird's eye view of Israel in the second book.ReplyDelete
Agreed, the glimpse into a missionary's experience in Guatemala was fascinating, as well as the non-stop action in Israel. Charissa is uniquely qualified to write about Israel since she studied abroad there. And I also think she is a great social media bud! She's a gem. Thanks so much for stopping by, Carrie!Delete
This sounds like a great one! I signed up for her newsletter because why not I don't have any chocolate :) She's funny lol. I do actually have dark chocolate, but I would love a Reeses Cup...or a few.ReplyDelete
Yes, Charissa is funny and her sense of humor really comes across in her blog posts. She always makes me smile, and she writes great reviews. Hmmmm, now I want chocolate--but, it's time to cut back after the over-the-holidays binge. Bah humbug.Delete
I hope you enjoy Charissa's books, Christy!
I've only read the first in the series, but do plan on reading the other two - I'm a bit of a slow reader and like most people have too many books lined up to read! Need more hours in the day...ReplyDelete
I hear you, Vanessa. There aren't enough hours in the day to read all the books I'd like to read. I'm a slow reader too. I like to absorb a story and really soak it up. I can't do that if I'm reading fast. I feel as though I somehow missed the point. I like to experience a book, not just read it. Thanks for your comment!Delete
I am excited for Charissa, reaching her trilogy finish goal. I have all three books downloaded.. I have a big trip ahead of me that should be an ideal time to get to know her characters.ReplyDelete
A big trip is the perfect time to catch up on reading. I love ebooks. I used to be a paperback lover, but now I'm converted. So convenient! Have a wonderful trip, Lora Dawn! And enjoy the Bending Willow Trilogy! Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Oooo, such pretty covers. If they have a tree, I will always stop and check them out. Charissa, you have a very pretty blog. I can't believe I haven't checked out your books before. The gorgeous covers hide the deliciousness inside. They look so sweet and innocent, until...I love it. Nice trailer too. I thought I might see a zombie or two. LOL I'll be looking for more, Taylor.ReplyDelete
I'm currently reading the third book, but book one and two were non stop action. The books include drug cartels, Mossad assassins, and a mormon missionary. What a combination, huh? Very enjoyable.Delete
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Thanks, bn! Glad you enjoyed it!Delete
That's great that the two of you became friends in that way. Char is a lot of fun and she always manages to make me think of chocolate (or maybe I'm always thinking about that anyway)!ReplyDelete
I love all her chocolate jokes too, Sheila! Charissa and I plan to meet in person this summer. She lives in the same area as one of my daughters. I'm looking forward to meeting her. We hit if off online and seem to have a lot in common. Thanks so much for stopping by. BTW, I have a sister named Sheila. I don't meet many people with that name. But it's a great name!Delete