About the Author
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. After writing the creative tale of The Creature from McGool in 4th grade, she has envisioned herself an author, and continued in shame to pen some cheesy romance scenes as a teenager. Thankfully, she has matured somewhat and tries hard not to spread too much cheese around in her writing now. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Elementary Education 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. Whew!
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you? I’d always wanted to write a book, but never seemed to have time between being a mother to my kids, a caregiver to a bunch of others, and then a preschool teacher later. When my kids were spread out between elementary and high school, I suddenly found myself spending lots of time waiting for them at practices and such. That’s when I started bringing notebooks with me and hashing out my story from beginning to end (which ended up being my Bending Willow Trilogy). That hooked me on the writing process…and now I don’t want to stop.
2. What writing project are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects? I’m almost finished with my next novel, Between Hope and the Highway. It will be released this fall. It’s taken me way too long, and so I’d like to fine-tune my writing process this summer so that I plot my books in the future, instead of relying on the seat of my pants.
3. What suggestions would you give a potential author to help them become a better writer? There are so many great writing books out there to help you. Read as many of them as you can, and apply new techniques to your writing as you learn them. Go to a writing conference each year if you can, and learn how to plot a story. I’ve done the pantser method for my first four books, and it’s fun…but very inefficient. If you want to make money, you’ll need to get books out faster than pantsing it allows. And plotting will ensure you have all your plot points up front so you don’t have to spend months trying to figure out why a certain section isn’t working out for you and rewriting it (um…I might know what I’m talking about here. Hee hee)
4. What authors inspire your writing? There are tons of authors I adore, but the ones that probably inspire my own writing in contemporary romance the most are Taylor Dean, Amy Harmon, Sheralyn Pratt, and Jennifer Peel. I can reread their stories and never tire of them.
5. What period of history interests you the most? Does this influence your writing? I’m pretty grateful for the present. That’s probably why I tend to set my stories in it. I do love to read Regency romances when I find them, but I don’t know if I’ll ever write one.
6. What inspired the idea for each of the novels in the Bending Willow Series? 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 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 hero. He served a mission in Guatemala and I used his letters to cast James Hinton. I tease him that James is him…only cooler!
7. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming a writer ever cross your mind?I’ve always had a love affair with books and a tendency to get lost in my dream worlds as a child. As a teenager, I wrote cheesy romance scenes between handsome cowboys and milkmaids…and I promise, the world will NEVER see these! They’re cheesier than a Walmart tuxedo.
8. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing? Reading is my biggest hobby. I’m always happy with a good book and quiet time. I also love gardening (although I’m not an avid gardener). I like designing and planting things, and then sitting back to enjoy pretty flowers, bushes and trees that don’t need much (or any) babying from me. I like camping, hiking, biking, playing the piano, and painting (when I’m in the mood). I always love chocolate. It is the hobby I’m probably best at—sniffing it out and savoring it.
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